A retirement village for dogs is being set up in Dairy Flat, as part of an existing business.
Pixies Doggy Hotel is creating the retirement option for old dogs because of demand, but also to provide alternative accommodation for some of the 10 dogs that Pixies owner Charmaine Wolmarans currently has sharing her home.
Charmaine is devoted to dogs. She worked with the SPCA for 14 years in Africa and thinks she must have been “born with a puppy in her hands”. She started her business seven years ago and has formed close ties with several local animal rescue organisations.
She says there are many reasons why someone may no longer be able to care for an older dog, especially if it has health problems.
“I understand the position people can be in if they work and have an older, disabled or anxious dog, or one on medication that can’t be left alone,” Charmaine says.
She says she once had to keep her own old blind dog in a crate while she went to work during the day, for the dog’s own safety, knowing it was not ideal.
She has several older dogs already visiting for day care, or longer stays – including a 15-year-old dachshund that lives in her house because he could not be re-homed.
Sometimes the dogs come to her when people move into a retirement village or an older owner can no longer take their pet for walks or to the vet. Although many villages allow existing pets, if you have a larger dog – or more than one dog – a village may not be a suitable environment.
Owners are welcome to visit their pets. They are charged a daily rate for 24/7 care. They continue to pick up any vet bills but Charmaine takes care of the vet visits as well as providing quality of life and administering medication.
Charmaine also rescues older dogs that may not find an owner as easily as a puppy would and tries to find them a new home. Recently she drove to Masterton to pick up two old dogs that had been left alone in the house after their owner died.
The village has begun with six insulated dog homes, leather couches and blankets and Charmaine needs to add at least 10 more.
“A dog’s later years are just as precious but they can have high needs that not every owner can cope with,” she says. “Every situation is different, and I’m happy to work with people including those on limited budgets to find a solution that works for dog and owner.”