It really is a dog’s life at Taupō’s Big Brown Paws Doggy Daycare. Everything has been designed with man’s best friend in mind, including all-day access to a large outdoor area, play equipment, and separate areas for small and large dogs. In winter there are lots of comfy dog beds for colder days and in the heat of summer there are paddling pools and even dog-friendly iceblocks.
Owner Alicia Davis started the business five years ago, looking after a small number of dogs at her home. Before long she was caring for six dogs and had a waiting list. It was time to expand. “I spent quite a bit of time looking for the perfect place” says Alicia. “I wanted an indoor area that connected to a large outdoor space – one that didn’t face the road.”
Once Alicia had found the right spot she recruited friends and family to help build fences, paint walls and plant trees and shrubs in the outdoor area. “I wanted the daycare to be as natural as possible. There are lots of skylights to increase the amount of daylight and the outdoor space can be used by the dogs at any time, even when it’s raining. I’ve also used lots of recycled materials from local businesses including tyres, bark, carpet mats and wooden pallets” says Alicia.
Before starting the business Alicia spent time researching the market. “I hadn’t
a business before. I was a single mum and struggling to make ends meet. But I just knew there was a real opportunity for my idea to take off in Taupō, so I decided to take the leap” says Alicia. The daycare now manages up to 50 dogs a day and offers a grooming and dog-walking service. Alicia runs special events to raise money for CARE and SPCA and offers free daycare for those temporarily fostering CARE dogs. “We have lots of fun activities for the dogs and offer longer opening hours to fit in with people’s needs. Taupō has so many dog-friendly places – you can take a well-behaved dog almost anywhere here” says Alicia.
Alicia has recently completed a diploma in small business and project management and is a finalist in the Taupō Chamber of Commerce Business Awards in the categories of Small Business and Community Contribution. “There are lots of opportunities here in Taupō. Business costs are lower and it’s a beautiful place to live. Hunting, fishing, skiing, it’s all at your doorstep” says Alicia. Her advice for those thinking of starting a new business? “Don’t sit on a great idea. Take a chance and give it a try or you’ll never know what might have been. Life’s too short!”