Flagstaff Business News enjoyed speaking with Al and Valorie Bowman, owners of Cinder Hills Boarding Kennel. It is the oldest kennel in Flagstaff, and the Bowmans have quite a history to share, describing how they came to work with animals and why they love it.
How long have you run Cinder Hills Boarding Kennel?
Cinder Hills was the first boarding kennel (private or public) in Flagstaff, opening its doors in 1972. Next month we will be starting our 12th year as the owners and operators of the kennel, which is the longest running among all kennel owners in Flagstaff. We even have two generations actively working the kennel!
What made you want to become a kennel owner?
Valorie’s family were pioneers in the kennel business. They were among the first to open a boarding kennel in the Pacific Northwest over 50 years ago. Growing up, she spent a lot of her time at the kennel where her love for animals only grew.
Al spent 23 years in the naval and commercial nuclear fields where he ran two departments (chemistry and health physics) at a nuclear power plant. He originally was studying pre-veterinary medicine out of high school, but switched gears and ended up getting his degrees in the nuclear and environmental fields.
Although the financial successes that came with Al’s career were significant, we came to a point where we wanted to simplify our lives and focus on the important things in life…family. Given our love of animals (at that time we owned eight dogs, four cats and a turtle) and Valorie’s background with kennels, we decided to become kennel owners. After looking at kennels nationwide for over a year, Al retired from the nuclear field and we became the proud owners of the Cinder Hills Boarding Kennel.
What is your favorite part of working with the animals?
One of the best parts of working with animals is experiencing their excitement of coming to the kennel. Dogs and cats truly show their emotions. They don’t put on a face. It’s so gratifying to know they love us and want to stay with us. Their happiness reminds us of what is really important in life. And, because of the great staff we have, we literally spend no time with personnel issues, which allows us to focus 100% on our boarders’ quality time at the kennel. Animals are also just like children. They each have their own personality and it’s fun to get to know them and share stories about them with their owners.
How do you define good pet care?
In our opinion, pet care needs to be better than good. High quality pet care begins with training and education, both of which should be ongoing. A facility should be designed and built to achieve the highest level of safety, health and comfort for its boarders. If a staff is spending an inordinate amount of time cleaning or repairing a facility, less time is being spent with the animals. Quality is of the upmost importance in a kennel, not quantity. More often than not, as quantity goes up, quality goes down and the same holds true in a kennel environment. Pets should be treated and cared for like they are in their own home. Animals, like people, also find comfort in familiarity, and stress is greatly reduced when they see the same staff whenever they board at a kennel. Therefore, a low staff turnover rate is essential in high quality pet care. At Cinder Hills, we take pride in our high level of professionalism. Your family member becomes part of our family when you board with us.
What else would you like to tell us about Cinder Hills Boarding Kennel?
We have a very low turnover rate, and hired our most recent employee over six years ago.
Our kennels consist of tiled floors, in floor heating, state of the art ventilation and semi-private dens. We have the only kennel in Flagstaff that has all indoor/outdoor runs so you don’t have to guess if your family member is getting the “best” dens.
Our rates start at $20 per dog per night and $12 per cat per night and go DOWN from there. We offer cash discounts, multi-pet discounts and active duty military discounts. We do not charge extra for high accommodation periods such as weekends or holidays and we don’t reduce the size of our dens during such times. We also do not charge for the extras such as playtimes, bedding, administration of medications or treats. Our largest dens are the largest available in our area.
We have the largest kennel yard available in Northern Arizona for dogs to get up good runs, play Frisbee, play catch or just play around. We do offer Fun in the Forest hikes at an additional fee. These are one to three mile hikes in the adjoining Coconino National Forest. Bathing and nail trims are also available for a fee.
We are members of the International Boarding and Pet Care Services Association and were the first kennel in Arizona to completely certify our entire staff. Our staff was also the first in Flagstaff to certify through the former Pet Care Services Association.
We also maintain an excellent relationship with veterinarians in the area.
For more information about us, please visit our website at www.cinderhillskennels.com