At the ripe old age of almost 50, I took the decision to leave the corporate world and set up a business of my own, doing something that I am completely passionate about.
I am married, have 2 grown sons, have owned and loved dogs all of my life and been the proud ’mum’ of a number of Labradors and Lab crosses. I was inspired to open the crèche by my beautiful chocolate Labrador Barney, who was a big part of our lives for almost 12 years and was, in my opinion, the kindest and best dog in the whole world (well we all think that about our dogs don’t we?). His love for humans and canines alike meant that he thrived in company. When Barney was three, I had to return to full time employment and, although I was able to go home to walk him at lunchtimes (helped by my mum on the days I couldn’t get home and my husband who worked from home some weeks too), I never felt completely happy to leave him.
Three years ago, we were lucky enough to find Bertie – a little white Lab Cross Beagle (we think) who was found wandering on the motorway in Romania fairly elderly and completely blind. We fell in love with him when we saw his sad little face in the photos on the Labrador Rescue site and felt compelled to have him come live with us, which would also give Barney a companion in his dotage! They instantly loved each other and we knew we had done the right thing for both of them.
Sadly we lost Barney to cancer in July 2016 but I know he is behind me every step of the way in setting up Coco’s. Incidentally, the business is named after our newest family member – Coco – a chocolate Labrador puppy who is full of beans, with boundless energy and enthusiasm. I am sure she will welcome your ‘pup’ to the crèche in her own inimitable style!!
My career background is in customer service across a range of businesses. Having worked at senior management level for over 20 years, I take pride in building highly motivated teams who are committed to doing their best for the customer. It is my absolute aim to provide the best possible day care environment for all dogs who come to the crèche and to raise the standards of this sort of care.
I have worked very closely with the Test Valley Borough Council Animal Welfare Officer and, with his support, I feel confident that we will be able to meet and exceed the expectations of all owners. I am passionate and energetic in everything I do and I intend to ensure that all dogs who come to Coco’s have a fun and entertaining day, by keeping them stimulated and exercised so that they return home tired, calm and happy!!!
I am also extremely fortunate that Gillian has agreed to join the Coco’s team. We worked together many years ago and became good friends. I love the fact that we have identical values in everything we do, personally and professionally. All employees of the crèche are DBS checked and dog first aid trained. I am also studying dog behaviour currently and will shortly be attending a course by the renowned Dog Listener, Jan Fennell. In the past, I have helped re-home Labradors for a Labrador rescue charity. There are so many beautiful rescue dogs out there who need homes and we will continue to support these charities as we carry on the Coco’s journey.
Paula Staff – Founder/Owner