Don Carpenter of Birch Hill Kennels turned over the keys of his business to the next generation last week, when his nephew's family purchased the home and kennels located off Route 104 in Northfield. From left to right are Don Carpenter with new owners Tonya, Jocelyn, Michael and Jacob Carpenter and their French Bull Dog "Finley." (Missing from photo is their other four-legged family member "Leo" the Labradoodle.) (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
November 21, 2017NORTHFIELD — Last Friday, there was a changing of the "guardians" at Birch Hill Kennel in Northfield when founder Don Carpenter turned over the keys to nephew Michael Carpenter and his wife Tonya, maintaining family ownership of the business, which first opened its doors in 1991.
Don Carpenter has been long known as an advocate for animals, not only acting as an Animal Control Officer for the Town of Northfield, but offering kennel services, grooming, doggy day care, crematory care for deceased pets and even working with canine search and rescue teams.
Over the years, his nephew Michael has also lent a hand whenever he could, so when "Uncle Don" said he was going to retire and sell Birch Hill Kennel and his home, it didn't take a lot for him to step up to fill his shoes.
"I've been helping him out for a number of years now and my son Jacob has even come up to help, too," said Michael. "We enjoy the dogs and all the animals that come here and decided this is what we wanted to do as a family."
Michael will continue the current Birch Hill Kennel contract as the ACO for Northfield and as a shelter for Tilton Police Department when they find lost or stray animals. In fact, he comes to the job with a background in law enforcement himself. After several years as a security officer for New Hampshire Hospital in Concord, he is now a police officer in the Town of Bow.
His wife Tonya has been involved in retail and customer service for a number of years and she now looks forward to running the business end of their new venture. Their children, in middle and high school, will be pitching in as well when they aren't involved in school activities.
"Jacob's going to help out with the day-to-day operations and Jocelyn wants to make her own treats for all the animals who come here," Carpenter said.
Besides care for lost or stray animals, the Carpenters will continue offering services to family pets such as day care, kenneling care for vacations and even a "Bed and Breakfast" option for pets who would like a little more luxurious short term care.
"With the bed and breakfast, the dogs get to stay in a bigger building out back that's more like home and has a private fenced in area behind it for them to exercise," said Carpenter.
No matter what option- daycare, kenneling, or bed and breakfast, the animals all get plenty of exercise and quality care at the same time.
"We'll send them all home tired and happy," Carpenter said.
Grooming is another service they will be offering but they are currently in search of a top-rate groomer who would like to join the Birch Hill Kennel family.
"If anyone out there is interested, they should give us a call," he added.
As "Uncle Don" wished them well and prepared for his retirement last week, he was pleased to know he was leaving things in good hands.
"When I was looking to find someone to take it all over, it turned out to be my 'favorite' nephew," he said. "This is great. It couldn't have been a better deal."
Birch Hill Kennels is located at 343 Tilton Rd. (Route 140) in Northfield, and can be reached at 283-3901.