Couple leaves 47-year meat career behind, buys pet kennel
A CHANGE in ownership and motto has been nothing but positive for Gladstone Pet Resort's furry holiday goers and kennel workers.
A cattery fitting 57 felines, a dog kennel with room for 150 canines, and an overload of cuteness is what greeted a couple new to the pet kennel industry.
Having spent more than 47 years in the meat industry, Duncan Downie and his wife Gail were looking for a change when they stumbled upon the sale of the ruff-ly 30-year-old pet resort on the Bruce Hwy.
"We moved here on June 30 and inherited some beautiful people who are teaching us a lot," Mr Downie said.
"Us, Di Cahill, who's worked here for 15 years, Eryn Finlay and Chantelle and Taylor Eves all stayed on. We work together, as a team," Mrs Downie said.
Mr Downie said it had been a dream of theirs for many years and when the opportunity finally presented itself, there was nothing left to do but take the leap from expert meat inspector to pet resort owner.
"I felt like I'd done enough in the meat industry but I wanted to do something different before I hung up my cape and retired completely," Mr Duncan explained.
"I had far too much energy left to just retire."
In love with country-style living, the pair saw nothing but promise and potential in owning the Gladstone Pet Resort.
"We bought this place for its position. It's very accessible and it's so close to Gladstone, a place that always has something happening ... We are quite confident about this business venture," Mr Downie said.
Far from a conventional 9am-5pm job, the couple said the role they play at the resort is more a fun hobby than work.
The new owners are the parents of four and grandparents of 10 and have been animal lovers their whole lives, owning up to 30 dogs on a previous property at one stage.
When asked what the main differences between the meat industry and owning a pet kennel were, Mr Downie confessed the jump in profession did sound strange when said out loud, even to him.
"There are a lot of similarities in terms of animal welfare, though," he said.
Noting how positive the experience had been so far, Mrs Downie said they both were looking forward to fixing up the property in the future.
"The new motto 'You leave them we love them,' is just the first step in personalising the place and putting our stamp on it," she said.
The couple said the heart-warming experiences were far from rare in their new line of work, acknowledging the trust people put in them on a daily basis.
"The thing that strikes me most is how much the people that come by love their dogs. They're true pet lovers and many leave special food, instructions and toys," Mr Downie said.
Mrs Downie added how wonderful it was to see the best side of people every day.
"They wave goodbye and if it's been a cold night they'll ring up and ask whether their pet has its coat on," she said.
The pair encourage the display of affection and frequently send pictures and updates to the pet's owner.
"We've received some great support since arriving and we just want to share that in turn," Mrs Downie said.
Gladstone Pet Resort is busiest during school holidays and while bookings are encouraged, Mr Downie confirmed they were flexible.
"We're not going to turn someone away if they show up outside of business hours of if they didn't book," he said.
"Their animals are like their kids and we embrace that responsibility."