K9 Meals On Wheels don’t just want to sell you dog food, as a customer they offer a unique experience not available anywhere else locally. free food samples, free training, free general health advice, free delivery and always on the end of the phone or email.
Sitting down with the owner, Shane- he tell us how in 1988, he started as a police officer for the Thames Valley Police in High Wycombe. “I was 27. I always wanted to be a police officer.” Shane applied for Thames Valley Police and they accepted him. Shane and his wife, who was also a police officer- made the move for the position.
In 1992, they were able to transfer back down to Devon and Cornwall, where Shane applied to become a dog handler in 1995. He was given a dog called Shogun, who was a fantastic long haired German Shepherd. “He was an amazing police dog. He was one of the most prolific thief catchers at the time”. Shane has had a number of police dogs since; Poppy, Dash, Shadow and Mac to name a few- some of which are retired with him today!
Shane finished his policing in 2014 in Plymouth. His service was coming to an end, his dogs were of retirement age and he had other ideas brewing, so he decided to retire.
Whilst in the Police Force, Shane was granted permission for a business interest so began his passion to supply friends and colleagues a quality nutritional dog food which took him to where he is today. In 2012, Shane came up with the name K9 Meals on Wheels. “I’m all about dogs really. We want them to have a good quality food – Meals, and we can deliver it- Wheels!”
Shane and Tracy met through their shared passion for all things pets at an agility show. Tracy, a qualified veterinary nurse, was a competitor in many of these agility shows, where Shane had a trade stand selling his dog food, natural treats and high quality joint aid . Tracy’s background and skills meant that she was a good team member to have on board.
K9 Meals on Wheels is one of the South West’s biggest suppliers of Simpson’s Premium dog and cat food. Due to their ever growing customer base they have just had their largest stock delivery, a 15 tonne shipment! Shane tells us how he came across the versatile product, researched the ingredients and gave it to a few customers to trial, it was an instant hit and the feed back was excellent. Shane has built up a good relationship with the company over the years. “It’s a really good high quality product, and it’s UK made. I don’t want to stock other foods because I know what is in this product. I trust and believe in the Simpsons Premium range of foods.
K9 Meals on Wheels supply Woodside Animal Charity Trust with all of their cat & dog food, and are on hand to offer free training
So what makes the food special? Shane tells us that the ingredients are key, human grade and not meat derivative with low quality ingredients “We don’t like anything man-made in it, we don’t like chemically preserved products”. There is evidence to suggest that it can be harmful to our dogs, and some of the ingredients in dog food are banned from the human food chain. Shane says that tells him all he needs to know- “So why do we put it in our dog food? Because it’s cheaper, and will give the food an extended shelf life, some up to 2 years!!
There are many benefits from choosing Simpsons. Grain in food is becoming a problem with a lot of dogs, so Simpsons have a grain free product which can help with some skin and digestive problems. ”Simpsons also have a range to help with weight loss, coupled withregular exercise. The whole range of products also have a joint package in the food.
K9 Meals on Wheels offer a free home visit for you to talk about your pet’s diet. They ask pet owners to be completely honest and when they are its clear to see where the diet is going wrong “Shane has seen some horrific pet diets over the years, including Frosties every morning and porridge with golden syrup! Obesity is a massive issue for dogs in the UK at the moment, and Shane outlines the importance of a good balanced diet for your pet.
Looking around us, the hydrotherapy unit is very impressive. A 5 x 2.5 metre pool heated to 30 degrees dominates the room. A beautiful dog called Banksy comes bounding in for a session on the Treadmill- so we all abandon the interview to go and watch him strut his stuff!
Shane tells us that the treadmill is the only one in Plymouth, and we watch as it slowly fills up with warm water whilst Banksy waits patiently to get started. Tracy controls the incline and speed by an I phone app. It is all very professional, and it is clear that the dogs absolutely love it here.
We are keen to find out how the hydrotherapy came about, so we leave Banksy to his treatment and sit back down with Shane. “It came from two customers actually. They just happened to see us at a show and they said- why don’t you start up a hydrotherapy unit for dogs?!” and that sowed the seed. Shane spoke to Tracy about it, who was working as a veterinary nurse for the PDSA at the time.
The pair did some surveying around local vet practices and the outcome was fantastic. “Some of them knew Tracy because of her history within the profession, but as soon as we proposed the idea the response was- when can you start?! They said that they would send us the clients, and it was about time Plymouth had a hydrotherapy unit.”
They moved into their new unit in Newnham Industrial Estate on the 19th of September 2015. K9 Splash Hydrotherapy offer fitness swims for agility or working dogs, puppy swims, and hydrotherapy treatment for an array of conditions such as arthritis, weight loss, spinal problems and rehabilitation from an injury or surgery.
Veterinary referral is mandatory for an appointment with Tracy in the pool or treadmill, regardless of whether they have a condition or not. “it’s all veterinary referral which is one of the conditions of being a member of the CHA (Canine Hydrotherapy Association) ensuring your pet is fit for treatment and in safe hands. This also helps if a dog or cat comes in with a condition such as arthritis- Tracy can get hold of the pet’s relevant medical files and come up with a tailored treatment schedule and formulate a course of recovery.
Shane reflects on the transition from the police to doing what he does now. “It was quite hard to make the decision to retire. But I have a very different life now and I am probably doing more hours than I was in the police service!” He talks about his loyal client base that he has built up over the years. “We are well known locally, people trust us. I just enjoy my work, it’s very fulfilling. Watching customers faces when things go right makes it all worth it”.
This is just a big success story for us really; I have to pinch myself sometimes
So what does the future hold? Shane says he has been very taken aback by how successful the business has been, quickly as well. “I do think about it, but I’ve got to reign myself in a little bit. We are always looking for the next stage so there could be something in the future, we are going to have to wait and see!”