I first published this blog in August 2011 at that time I had known Alice several years so I was very sad to learn today that she has passed away after her long fight with cancer. She was always such a positive person that I thought despite seeing how thin she was at Christmas that she would somehow come through. Sadly that hasn’t been the case but I assume many like me have some wonderful memories of Alice and Mark.
A few years ago I spoke with Alice on Tripadvisor and when she and OH, Mark came to Tenerife on holiday we met for a coffee. At that time, they expressed a wish to live here permanently. It’s a common enough statement made by many in holiday mode, but this couple actually meant it. They went home, did their research and we kept in touch discussing the pros and cons of various business ventures. Alice, in particular, has had some great ideas and each time she returned to the island has carried out market researched on how viable certain opportunities could be.
A few weeks ago Alice wrote saying they had been to Poochies Pet Hotel and were seriously considering taking it over. This was a surprise, as boarding kennels had never featured on the radar, although excursion centres and ladies only gyms had. But this is where, I believe, fate stepped in.
They had several properties to sell in the UK and until they sold, felt they could not afford to purchase Poochies although they loved the setup. Over discussions with Pete the owner, they discovered he wanted to return to the UK for medical reasons and to an area that was just a few minutes from where they live in Yorkshire. They came up with an unusual but very workable arrangement and from that point forward, everything has fallen into place. On returning to the UK after their last holiday, they received, out of the blue, an offer on one of their properties and now it is full steam ahead.
They have booked their final flights for the middle of August but have spent the past two weeks at the ‘hotel’ learning the ropes. They are under no illusion about the amount of hard work involved in looking after dogs and have embraced it wholeheartedly. They have spent their ‘holiday’ scooping poop, taking puppies to the vets, meeting clients and integrating into village life.
As an animal lover, I try to avoid visiting the animal refuges as I find it upsetting not being able to take them all home with me. However, Alice being a friend I could not refuse an invite to look over Poochies. Getting to El Rio for the first time is interesting. From the TF1 you seem to climb forever, in reality, it is only 30 minutes from the main resorts, but first-time journeys always seem to take forever.
We parked up and Alice met us carrying the tiniest of pups. There were five or six of them that they have taken from one of the rescue centres and they all have homes to go to in Germany. Thank goodness because I was besotted by a tiny bundle of fluff that could easily have slipped into my handbag. (Hindsight says this was the start of Alice collecting and spoiling those who needed lots of love).
We met the original Poochie who the hotel is named after, she is supposedly a guard dog and while large enough to frighten any intrepid intruder could not, in the heat of the day, be bothered to raise her head from where she was sleeping on the sofa. It was amusing to see Alice and Mark checking their lists and rounding up at exercise change-over time and making sure ‘friends’ were kept together. There is a strict schedule for doggy exercise, first the little chaps, then the slightly older pups, followed by the mature dogs that get along well together and finally the old miseries that don’t like mixing with other dogs. But the highlight of my day was having lots of loves from Dodo a huge white Great Dane cross.
People may recall that last year I was desperate to see Dodo re-homed. He really is a gentle giant but needs space and while he has loads of space at Poochies he is now waiting for the all clear on his blood tests before he flies to the UK and his forever home.
Poochies Hotel has an excellent reputation and works closely with the animal rescue centres and Alice and Mark will continue this. I wish them the very best of luck on this adventure because I really believe it was meant to be.
Yesterday we joined Alice and Mark at Poochies to see how they were getting along with their new venture. It has to be said that the place is looking good, the house is bright and with just a few changes of furniture, they can now take in the exceptional views right down to the coast from their living room.
We were greeted by a bunch of ‘holidaymakers’ who are staying while their owners are enjoying their own vacations and a couple of long-stayers who are awaiting the all-clear for their flights to the UK. Of course, Dodo their most famous resident has recently made that journey to his new home. All the dogs spent the afternoon wandering around the grounds, playing chase, catching sticks or checking if the food was cooked and to their liking.
I think Mark was of the impression he was cooking for an army, steak, chops, garlic chicken, burgers, kebabs, Spanish sausages and huge prawns were constantly coming from the large barbecue to join the salads, quiches, jacket potatoes and various dips Alice had provided.
Although newcomers to the island Alice and Mark have quickly learnt to fit in and this noisy affair felt typically local. Children played in the pool while the adults sat around, drank good wine and beer and the laughter and conversation flowed effortlessly. Dogs were spoilt; they sat on guests knees, crept under the table and one even found his way into a handbag were doggie treats were supposedly hidden.
I am happy to say that business is doing well, there are enquiries every week from both old and new clients wishing to place their dogs in a happy environment while they can’t be with them.