Former Dairy Farmer Sets Sights On New Canine Career
CLYMER — Boarding dogs is a career of passion, which is something Larry and Gay Ostrander of Happy Tails Boarding Kennel understood for 20 years until they retired from the business in August.
It’s also something Paul Troyer of the newly opened Troyer’s Boarding Kennel plans to learn. After he saw an advertisement for the Ostranders selling their pens and fencing formerly used to hold dogs, he saw a potential career opportunity in waiting and visited Happy Tails on Aug. 10, the last day the couple boarded dogs.
“I didn’t know much about boarding dogs,” Troyer said at first.
Along with the sale of their dog pens and fencing for an exercise yard, the Ostranders gave Troyer some tips about making the kennel business work. Advice was also freely given from groomers at Vanearden’s Kennels, and Troyer was starting to feel at home with the business.
Troyer said this new career path should be a positive change going forward after recent hardships. A former dairy farmer, Troyer decided to sell his 40 cows at the end of August shortly after he decided the kennel business could be right for him.
“This last year was real tough,” Troyer said in reference to dropping dairy prices that he added don’t seem to be on the rise any time soon.
Troyer said if the farm can’t pay for itself, there needs to be a change. He talked about how he took over the farm from his parents beginning in 2011. After a few successful years, Troyer said things started to take a turn in 2015 when prices began to drop. After a few years, Troyer decided that change was necessary.
“I enjoy (dogs) a lot more,” he said. “I think it’ll be a lot more fun. There’s a lot of potential here.”
Troyer said Larry Ostrander told him that the job would be the right fit for him if he likes making both dogs and people happy.
Troyer thinks he’s got the skills to make that happen and is willing to learn more as his business begins to grow, with the initial jumpstart of the holiday season, a period of time dog owners typically call on kennels to make their family vacations possible.
“It was fun work,” Gay Ostrander said. “You didn’t mind getting up in the morning. The new people who are taking over: they’re doing a very good job.”
Both Troyer and the Ostrander family started out raising labrador retrievers and fostered their love and care for dogs from there. Gay and Larry Ostrander told them how they’d give the dogs “personal touches” like spraying pens with “doggie cologne” to get rid of the smell of so many pets for when the owners return to pick up potentially long-term animal residents of the kennel.
Troyer plans on providing lots of space for the dogs to roam like the Ostranders did at Happy Tails. One end of the pens are inside a heated building on his farm, so the dogs can eat, drink and sleep while safe and sound. Troyer added 5-foot extensions onto the already 8-foot outer ends of the pens. Small doors on a pulley system allow Troyer to easily let the dogs inside and outside while they still remain in their pens.
Located at 1834 Clymer-Sherman Road, Troyer’s Boarding Kennel accepts all dog breeds. Stays are $15 per night with a walking fee of $5 per day. Appointments can be made by calling 355-4643.
Troyer said he thinks the benefits are plentiful to starting this new business and providing a spiritual successor to Happy Tails. The Ostranders had thought their pens and fencing might be used to house farm animals or provide storage space, not necessarily start a new kennel business. They’re happy to see another kennel business begin with their old equipment.
With Troyer expecting less stress, more fun and a more stable occupation than his former dairy farming job, he’s excited to start his new business and support his family through something he can enjoy doing.
“It’s a fun job to get into,” Gay Ostrander said. “I wish him a lot of luck.”