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Be the person your dog thinks you are, the saying goes. All our pets have to do is look at us with those eyes and we become that person through their excitement that we're home, and the anticipation of if we're going to throw a ball, hand them a treat, or finally let them up on the bed. We have a choice when it comes to pet care—and when we go away and our four-legged friends can't come along, we want them to be safe, happy, and cared for. That's where Dennis and Barbara Butler come in.
For the Butlers, pets aren't just part of their family—pet care has been in the family.
"My wife and I are college educated and pursued work in our fields of study," says Dennis. "After the birth of our first two daughters, we decided to buy a boarding kennel. My wife's family had owned one of the first boarding kennels in Connecticut starting in 1959. We bought an existing boarding kennel and remodeled it and at the same time began construction of a new building on our property. This was a life-changing step."
The boarding kennel is Shoreline Pet Lodge in Branford. What Dennis and Barbara didn't expect was that purchasing a kennel required long days—working 15 hours a day for the first few months. He says it was by sheer willpower that they endured.
"When you have invested your life savings, there is an urgency to succeed," he says. "The fact is 30 percent of new businesses fail within the first two years, 50 percent fail in five years, and 66 percent in 10 years. I admit that there is something emotionally romantic about being the boss—I cannot tell you the amount of times I said to myself I could have done a better job than my boss. When you own your own business, everything starts and ends with you. When you start a business, you take a chance. It is a leap of faith into which you put your blood, sweat, and tears. After all the hard work and worry, it is still the best decision we ever made."
On April 1, Shoreline Pet Lodge celebrated 32 years in business. Today, their youngest daughter, Colleen, is actively working in the management, social media, and day to day operation of the business. When asked how they have run this business for more than three decades, Dennis points to the fundamentals.
"I think the most important thing in business is to be honest," Dennis continues. "Trust is very important in a business relationship with your customers. In business, it's important to learn from mistakes, change, adapt, improve, and keep up with the changing trends in your industry."
"Over the years we have met many wonderful people and have been blessed with them allowing us to take care of their wonderful dogs and cats," says Dennis. "To the Branford community, we say thank you."
This story and photographs were provided by Shoreline Pet Lodge, located at 157 Pine Orchard Road, Branford. For more information, call 203-488-9660 or visit shorelinepetlodge.com.
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The annual guide to the CT River Valley has arrived.