IT’S been something of a homecoming. About five years after dog whisperer Mary Thomson left the animal charity Scottish SPCA at Mellerstain, she has returned, this time to set up her own business in the kennels.
Licenced for 18 dogs and 12 cats and with the capacity for about 10 small animals, Sawmill Kennels opened for business earlier this spring. Already Mary has bookings into next year.
She said: “We did consider the recession when we talked about opening a new business but it was more the opportunity that presented itself and we decided to go for it. I did a lot of research into boarding charges and I hope my prices reflect the current situation.”
When the Scottish SPCA closed at the end of last year, Mellerstain Trust offered Mary the lease of the facility and she leapt at the chance.
“I’ve been established as a dog person around the Borders over the years. People know me because of being at the Scottish SPCA and that’s coming through when I’m speaking to people, ” said Mary.
A lifelong animal lover, the former Scottish SPCA rescue officer in the west of Scotland grew up with collies.
She was the founder manager of the Scottish SPCA at Mellerstain in 1992 and latterly ran her own canine behaviour business, helping train dogs and their owners out of bad habits, something she hopes to continue.
“We are really enjoying being back and people seem quite glad to see us. Someone said ‘It will be like going home’ and it did feel like that!” she said.
She talks of sitting outside drinking cups of tea in the sunshine while the dogs play. And she enjoys walking her guests.
She told us: “We have this beautiful woodland that is so nice for the dogs. Mellerstain Estate are very good at letting us walk them. We are very, very lucky. We’re keeping the place small so we have time for them.”
Her expertise and extensive experience means she can look after dogs with medical needs such as diabetes as well as those with antisocial traits.
Mary added: “If dogs have problems or are not good with other dogs, we can cope with that: it’s something I feel very confident about, the dog can be brought here safe in the knowledge that its needs can be met. That’s another reason for being small.”
She and her husband Colin live at the kennels so the animals have 24-hour care.
She has her own dogs – Darcy the Labrador who’s about to have pups, Susie the wirehaired daschund and Tina the terrier cross. Coco, her grey African parrot, has made the move too: “He makes people laugh and he’s enjoying himself.”
Mary went on: “I lived at Spotsmains and I did quite a lot of pet-sitting. I just enjoy being with dogs. I really do.
“Last week I had this Weimaraner, she was a princess – taking her out in the woodland she was pirouetting around she was so happy.
“And I had the cleverest dog I’ve ever met. I really enjoyed spending time with them and observing this dog. He’s very very clever. If he was a human he’d be a Mensa candidate. This dog can work out humans in a flash. He’s really quite something – he’d be Sheldon in the Big Bang Theory!
“I got a really nice letter from a lady the other day saying they liked bringing the dog to me knowing she’s had a lovely holiday the same way we do – I was really quite touched, it was so nice of her to send it.”
Mary can be contacted on 01573 410624.