In January 2017, my 10yr old home-ed and I decided to come up with something that would suit both our educational choices and our circumstances. As a single mum, I needed to earn a wage that could fit around our decision to provide an education other than in a school environment. I worked at a part-time supervisory cleaning job. It was late hours and long drives between sites, leaving me tired a lot of the time and not really conducive to a ‘content’ life. However, it was a sacrifice I was prepared to make at the time, in order to live in the nice area we live and home-educate my young daughter.

Initially, we (my young daughter and I) came up with the idea of making cat beds, not just any cat beds…oh no. We had every intention of making fancy four-poster beds complete with all the trimmings for the more discerning felines. Owning cat’s ourselves and having a wild imagination made this an exciting and (at first) doable possibility. I’m a bit handy with a sewing machine and have a reasonably good eye for fabric and detail, while my young home-ed was pretty clued up on sniffing out a bargain online (Math and IT being her strong points), but how would we make the frames? Neither of us are particularly good at woodwork, we didn’t even own a saw, let alone one of those industrial fancy saws that could cut all sorts of weird and wonderful shapes out of once proud trees. So that idea was put back to the drawing board, which…despite all our best ideas and solutions, never really came into its own. But what a fabulous idea! It still makes me smile now!

A few days after this idea had been returned to the drawing board, my eldest daughter was playing with our two dogs, which are the loves of our lives. My eldest is a bit clever at coming up with unique and wonderful nicknames for our pets and in fact, family members. For the last couple of years, she’d been calling our first pup, Lara-Lou, ‘da fuzzy’, on account of her insanely frizzy, fuzzy coat, and it stuck (…as does Lara’s hair to pretty much everything). Everyone in our house started calling her ‘da Fuzzy puppy’.

‘Puppins’ was another of her wonderful linguistic conjuring’s, and one that we use to refer to our pups always. In fact, we affectionately refer to all dogs as ‘Puppins’ because in our mind, no matter how old a dog is, they remain young at heart, so it feels wholly appropriate and correct to refer to them as such.

In December 2016, I’d treated my eldest to a trip to a fabulous and well-revered cat café in London. It was honestly one of the best experiences of dining out I’d ever had. I mean, how could you not love sharing your meal in the company of cats?! And then, while we were there, a fleeting thought of ‘I wonder if there’s a dog café?’ drifted through my mind.

Having always adored dogs and having spent time with them during my life, it seemed only natural that whenever felines were given a promotion, my mind naturally directed to the canine alternative.

Seeing my daughter playing with the pups and remembering that glorious time in the cat café occurred to me at the same time my brain was trying to play with the verbalisations of ‘Da Fuzzy Puppy’, which my daughter was cooing in her ‘cute voice’ to Lara-Lou. You know that cute baby-voice you use when you speak to babies and animals…yep, that one.

‘The Fuzzy Puppy’ quickly evolved into ‘da Fuzzy puppin’…which to my mind became ‘Pup inn’…and then it came to me! ‘The Fuzzy Pup Inn’ …but hang on…something didn’t sound right…the ‘y’ had to go! ‘The Fuzz’n Pup Inn’, and there it was, the name of our ‘canine alternative’ café.

I sat there mulling it over for a while, considering what ‘it’ actually was. I concluded it would be exactly as the cat café, but for dogs. My mind began to race away, fertile with ideas, and ‘Dog Emporium’ was tagged on the end. I began looking for premises and spent the next few months absorbing myself in producing a logo, company objectives, and core values, compiling menu’s and searching for suppliers. I was extremely careful in choosing my suppliers, as my own core values were to trust only those that genuinely want the best of health and promise safety for others, and not just about selling products to make quick bucks.

This was a difficult time because while I was having all these wonderful ideas, my internal conflict was that my childhood hero, my dad, who had been deteriorating rapidly from a long time illness, would not be with us for too much longer. I felt pretty helpless to actually spend any real time with him under the surveillance of others and from the anguish of seeing him in such a sorry state. It would take me days to recover emotionally after each visit. We [Dad and I] always ‘felt’ pretty close, but navigating family differences had proved difficult and here, I had to say goodbye in a stifled and reserved way, totally out of alignment to who I am, a person who lives life from the heart.

It was a slow process building ‘The Fuzz’n Pup Inn Dog Emporium’, and often I felt momentarily defeated when the lack of finance to get it going wasn’t forthcoming, but it was probably going to be the last time I got to make my dad proud. It was, at times, soul destroying. I applied for ‘Entrepreneur friendly’ business loans and was met with all the red tape and protocol you would expect, enough to kill off any good ideas in their tracks and bring you back into a world of limitation and lack. But the thought of progressing, the visualisations of ‘The Fuzz’n Pup Inn’ still burned vividly in my heart and my mind. I realised that now, this wasn’t just an idea to provide a wage or make my dad proud, but an actual passion inside me. Not only was this incredibly inspiring with the added gift of personal growth for ‘me’, but my young home-ed was becoming more and more interested in business models and learning, in a practical sense, every step of the way, lessons she would not have gained in a mainstream school.

In December 2017, the week before Christmas, my father took his last breath, and when the call came from my mother at 8.27am, my whole world fell apart. It was a long and surreal Christmas for us all, which left me questioning everything, including the point of life. And when winter kept appearing and leaving, only to reappear again, I felt like I would never get out of the funk that this event left me with. It’s odd that no matter how much you prepare for these things, you’re never really prepared and can’t possibly imagine the all-encompassing feeling you’re left with.

The pivotal moment came in February 2018 during a conversation with my brother. It’s funny how, despite our very different outlooks and lifestyles, we are always there at the right time, with the right words. I won’t go into detail because it was a personal and emotional conversation between me and him, but his words inspired me to get on with my life, confirming that no amount of sadness would bring my dad back or advance my life, which of course I knew, but to actually hear it out loud made more sense.

I slowly picked up from where I had left off, and determined to get my message of love for dogs out there, I booked two events to take ‘The Fuzz’n Pup Inn on the road. You see, originally it was going to be a physical café, much like the cat version. However, finance and red tape aplenty, that idea was soon put on the back burner also. The next best idea (and the one that excited me more because I’d get to meet more like-minded and varied people) was to take it on the road to events! However, I still had quite a bit of equipment to get, paperwork to complete and preparations to make. Determined to get to the two booked events was so stressful that, eventually, I had to temporarily concede. While I had all the training (Food safety certificates and HACCP), I still didn’t have all the equipment or the EHO rating (Environmental Health Officers approval) so it was futile to continue like this. In addition, I found out I had a health issue that needed addressing before I could commit the energy that a mobile unit would demand. I then got an email saying that the second event had been cancelled by the organisers.

Ok, so the Fuzz’n Pup Inn Dog Emporium was fast approaching the same fate as the ‘cat boudoir’ idea and the physical fixed tea room, yet still, the ideas were coming fast and furious. Literally, one idea after another and another and another. How can anyone ignore such a strong pull into their passion? I had to keep going with it.

Any hard-wired entrepreneur will tell you how difficult it is to resign to work for an employer. It’s restrictive, oppressive and downright miserable. Definitely not conducive to a full and happy life in alignment to whom you are. This is who I am. I am, in my heart, a full-on entrepreneur. Nothing makes me happier than coming up with ideas to give back and enrich the lives of someone or something else.

Luckily for me, inspiring people gravitate to me because of this. My actual favourite is a guy called Kyle Cease. If you’ve ever heard of him, you’ll know who I’m talking about and what I mean, if you haven’t, I urge you to look him up. Now, I know you’re probably thinking I’m digressing, going off topic, blabbering on, whatever. I’m not, the fact of the matter is, this guy encourages people to live in their heart and not their head. That’s super scary to most people, because we live in a world where we’re told to always have a plan, always know the next step and always, always stuff down any emotion that isn’t smiley or accepted by the outside world, especially in business. Yet, look around you. Who’s happy doing that? No-one.

Absolutely no one is happy pretending to be, do and say what they are not.

I spent the next few weeks working hard on myself, calling out my BS and getting back into my heart. It’s easy to fall in love with the Fuzz’n Pup Inn Dog Emporium because I share my home with the two gorgeouses (I coined that word) that are the face of the business. Not only that, I strive to give them the absolute best life I can and in doing so, it makes me want to give others the knowledge and information I’ve learned, so they may give their dogs the best life. Even more aligned is the fact that dogs live in the moment. They do everything they can to align with their best selves, whatever their situation. These stoic, loyal and doting animals give so so much to man and they’re here for such a short time. The best we can do for them is adore and care for them as consciously as we can, from the heart.

So here we are, May 2018…

I may not have the events this year and I may not have all the answers right now, but The Fuzz’n Pup Inn Dog Emporium will go on, and will improve as I learn more and more about my vision, passing on knowledge to others and providing an outlet to those who adore dogs (as I do), and strive to celebrate every second of every minute of every year of their dogs life and beyond.

So, Who are the Fuzz’n Pup Inn Dog Emporium?

Well, we are:

  • A company that strives to bring the best education, information, and celebration to you and your dog at all stages of their life.
  • A company that makes available products and services to enhance the lives of dogs and their owners.
  • A company that provides an outlet for those who adore dogs but can’t own one for whatever reason.
  • A company that believes in love for all dogs, regardless of breed, age, background or origin. We speak from the heart, a place of love for all dogs.
  • A company that remains in gratitude for the precious gift dogs bring to the world.
  • A company that only does business with people who value the health and welfare of dogs and people, even if that means going against the status quo.
  • A company that values those who work with us and for us; these are people whose hearts are in alignment with their highest self, doing the things they love, thus empowering us all.

Warmest wishes, woofs & wags,

Mia-Louise, Lara Lou & Beau Blue