PASCO -- Some couples when they retire make plans to travel, kick back and relax or take up a new hobby.
Jenepher and Louis Field of Pasco opted for a new career. They opened a dog and cat boarding kennel, Sagemoor Kennels, overlooking the Columbia River in rural Franklin County.
"When we decided on retirement, we wanted something to do. The kennel business and farmland appealed to us both. We both love cats and dogs and other small furry animals," she said.
Their work at the kennel during the past 14 years resulted in them receiving the highest standard of accreditation from the Pet Care Services Association, a trade association for kennel owners and groomers.
Sagemoor is one of only three kennels in the state to receive a Level II accreditation. The other two are on the west side.
"We had to meet well over 200 criteria for operations, animal care procedures and business policies," Jenepher said, picking up a nearly 4-inch-thick ring binder. "The proof is all in here." They also had to pass an on-site inspection.
The Fields can rest on their laurels, but not relax their standards. In five years they'll have to go through the whole process again to requalify.
That tidbit of information made kennel Manager Kathy McGuire's eyes open wide.
"You didn't tell me that," she said to her boss. "It was a grueling process."
But worth it. Since opening Sagemoor Kennels in October 1995, the Fields have never regretted it.
"I would do it all over again," Jenepher said. "It's been a tremendous amount of fun and we've met wonderful people, wonderful pets and wonderful staff."
The acres of farmland they own are rented out but Louis, a retired orthopedic surgeon, keeps an eye on it while doing the maintenance and landscaping around the kennel and their home and shop next door. Jenepher, a former mental health counselor, handles the financial side of the business.
"We had boarded dogs at other kennels so we knew what we liked, and what we didn't," she said.
Sagemoor Kennels has a separate room off the reception area for tiny dogs like Chihuahuas, small poodles and Pomeranians. It can house up to 18 dogs.
"We call it homestyle boarding because these are mainly dogs who live indoors all their lives. They each get a kennel and are taken out five times during the day and evening to do their business," she said.
There's also a room for cats which has six cages and five multi-level kitty condos which can hold up to two cats. The cages and condos face a large fish tank which is flanked by broad windows where they can watch the birds. Each cat is let out into the room daily for play time or a cuddle with one of the staff.
The main kennels, all indoors, feature enclosed dog houses each with radiant heating in the floor and an attached run, also indoors. The kennels are graduated in size from one that can comfortably house a Jack Russell terrier to a dog the size of their first border, Jake, an exuberant Newfoundland who dwarfed the Jeep he arrived in.
The dogs each get walked or time out in a fenced yard to play and relieve themselves.
"Poop scooping is a never ending chore," Jenepher said.
And keeping fit is no problem.
"We didn't realize, when we went into this business, that we'd be getting paid to exercise," she joked, referring to their dog walking chores. "And with the big ones sometimes you get an upper body workout, too."
The Fields have room for 78 dogs and 11 cats, more if some double up. Boarding fees range from $10 to $18 a night for cats, depending on number and whether they're in a cage or condo; from $14 to $16.50 for dogs, depending on size.
They also offer grooming, mainly for dogs. And will feed your pets special diets if you supply the food.
"We also administer any medicines, including insulin shots, they need," said office manager Kathy McGuire.
That's an important service for longtime customer Lorna Bennett of Pasco. She's been taking her cats to Sagemoor Kennels three to four times a year since 1995.
"I had bad luck at a different kennel at one point and have been boarding my cats at Sagemoor since then," Bennett said. She once had two cats but has only one now, a 16-year-old female, named Calvin.
"She's a very old, very fat, diabetic cat who needs insulin shots twice a day," she said. "And I have every confidence that they do give her the shots because she's always bright and perky when I go to pick her up."
"I'm very happy with the care they've given my cats over the years," Bennett said.
Robert and Hettie Hunter of Richland have also been boarding their dogs at Sagemoor since it opened in 1995.
"It's very well run. I wouldn't consider going anywhere else," said Robert Hunter.
Living next door to a kennel doesn't keep the Fields from owning pets of their own. In addition to Nicholas, the gray and white office cat, Jenepher has three Welsh Corgis who live with her and her husband in the house.
Louis also has a separate kennel next to the shop to house his six English pointers. Plus he has two horses who go out with him and his dogs for field trials.
"There's no shortage of animal heartbeats around here," Jenepher said.
For more information on Sagemoor Kennels, go to www.sagemoor.com or call 509-544-9682.
-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org.