JEFFERSON, S.D. | Taking care of an average of 30 dogs per day between three people might sound overwhelming to the average person. But it’s just another day for Deanna Leach and her two employees at Palace 4 Paws boarding in rural Jefferson, S.D.
“We try to keep it quiet and peaceful,” said Leach.
Of the 30 or more dogs that stay at her home-based business, seven are hers and a few are Noah’s Hope Animal Rescue foster dogs. Most are boarded dogs, however. To say the least, it’s always an eclectic group.
“It gets noisy sometimes, but I try to be respectful of my neighbors,” Leach said. “I don’t let them out too early in the morning or late at night. I don’t let them just sit out here and bark either. We work on manners.”
Palace 4 Paws offers daycare, overnight boarding and grooming for non-aggressive dogs with no bite history. This is because the dogs, separated into large and small groups, are allowed to play together in a fenced-in acre-sized area.
“We go slowly when they come in,” she said. “We introduce them one at a time.”
If there is a problem, Leach and her staff are well-trained on how to handle the situation.
“We watch for the signs,” she said. “If there’s going to be a fight, you can usually tell in the first 10 or 15 minutes.”
Making sure all the dogs get along is important to the success of the business.
“This isn’t the place for all dogs,” Leach said. “Some dogs just don’t do well in this atmosphere. It’s not something they did or something we did, it just doesn’t work.”
That isn’t typical, though, she noted.
Leach opened the business in 2009 out of her garage and soon had to build a structure specifically for the business as she outgrew her garage. Previously, she worked at Gateway and then for Acer when it bought out Gateway in 2007 until it was downsized.
“Then I had to figure out what to do with my life,” she said.
Inspiration came from her mother who had a bad boarding experience and suggested that Leach open her own kennel.
With the help of her husband and daughter, she was able to grow the business from just a few kennels in her garage to being able to board up to 45 dogs at a time.
There are pros and cons to working from home, however.
“It’s nice being able to not have to drive somewhere every day, but at the same time, I’m tied to my home,” she said. “If I’m at a family event or something, I have to stop at home all the time.”
Being able to spend all her time with dogs makes up for that, however, and ensures that there’s no such thing as a boring or typical day.
“They’re never mad at you,” Leach said. “They’re always happy to see you.”
A pair of German shepherd-mix puppies rolled around on the ground, playfully nipping and barking at each other.
“Day to day, this is my life,” she said.