Saturday, 29 September 2012
Dogs or No Dogs?
When we first took on Pentre Bach Holiday Cottages and started receiving guests, we thought long and hard about whether to accept pets. The previous owners didn't despite owning a dog and two cats themselves. In the end we decided to allow one pet per cottage, and of course this usually means a dog (although we did have one group who brought along their tortoise on holiday- fair enough!).
On the whole we've been satsfied that we made the right decision. there's a huge market out there of dog owners who refuse to leave their much loved Spaniels, Jack Russels and Collies at home when they go away for a weekend or a week. We reckon that about 30% of our guests bring a dog with them. So if we'd not accepted pets , that would've been a sizeable chunk of income that we would've lost.
The vast majority of our guests who bring along their best friend, are considerate, careful and clean. They clear up after their dogs, bringing doggie bags with them, with which to dispose of the dog mess and very often bring a dog bed or blanket for the dog to sleep on. They keep their pets on a lead at all times and make sure they don't upset other guests or our sheep-rearing farmer neighbours. They make good use of our large field to exercise their dogs or take them off to enjoy the many dog friendly beaches nearby.
However ...............very occasionally come along some dog owners who give other dog owners a bad name. We had one couple last week in Y Popty. They allowed their Alsation to roam the garden and lawns unattended (thank goodness the main house wasn't occupied last week!) and let it leave its messy deposits here , there and everywhere. This is not nice to get caught up in the lawn mower or trodden in and tramped into the cottages. The poor animal must have also been sick in the garden on a number of occasions but again this was left for us to clear up before the next guests came across it.
The cottage carpet was coated in a thick matt of long dog hairs, both downstairs and up in the bedrooms. I even found dog hairs in the cutlery drawer! It took me over 2 hours to vacuum the lounge carpet, down on my hands and knees, using the nozzle of my Little Henry! The whole cottage stank of wet dog throughout. To make matters worse, they'd left the log fire unguarded, with the result that we had burn marks on the carpet. Oh and they left early in the morning before we were up and about. could it be that they didn't want to face us?
We had to refuse a last minute booking from a family with a toddler because we couldn't guarantee that we could get the place cleaned and odour-free before they arrived.
Don't get me wrong; I love dogs and if we didn't have to travel as much as we do, we'd most likely have a dog of our own. Its just the odd thoughtless, selfish owner that thoroughly gets up our noses (and other places!).
We do make a small charge of £15 for a dog , to cover the extra cleaning, but this would not have come anywhere near the cost of extra cleaning this week. We're going to have to have all the carpets cleaned before we can let the property again. We also ask owners to abide by a set of commonsense 'Doggie Dos and Doggie Don'ts' before they arrive, just things such as keeping dogs on leads on our property and picking up their 'Doggie Dos'! Most owners are happy to comply and do.
As holiday cottage owners, we're constantly at the mercy of guests who could post a derogatory review on Trip Advisor, if we happened to have a problem such as the heating failing unexpectedly or poor weather which made our guests feel miserable and then find fault with something in one of our cottages. Its never happened yet, but we're always nervous that it could , and then our business could suffer. Perhaps there should be a cottage owner version where we could name and shame people such as those we had the pleasure of hosting last week. We wouldn't but its an idea.
Rant over. I feel better for getting that off my chest!
Dogs and their considerate owners are still very welcome.