An Entrepreneur’s Love For Dogs Inspires Second Career

By Quoron Walker The Hartford Courant.

WWR Article Summary (Tl;dr) A newly divorced mom finds a second career as an entrepreneur in the pet industry. Tami Sarra is among many small business women who are opting for a franchise model of business ownership.

South Windsor

A passion for dogs led single mother Tami Sarra to open South Windsor's Camp Bow Wow eight years ago and now it's one of the top-earning franchise locations in the nation.

"I have believed in this place from the very beginning and I cannot tell you, to this day, what this has given me," said Sarra about owning and operating Camp Bow Wow.

Camp Bow Wow is a dog daycare franchise that also offers overnight camp and dog behavior and training, and in-home pet care services.

Before opening the business Sarra worked in physical therapy and ideally wanted to be in sports medicine. But the travel required meant she had to leave her three kids, which she didn't want to do.

With a new career in mind and, at the time, newly divorced, Sarra wanted a change.

When she looked into boarding her dogs at a kennel while she went on vacation, she was appalled at what was available, she said. She ended up canceling her trip.

"I started looking in to them a little bit and I never got as far as going into one because everybody's reports or reviews of kennels just said they were awful places. I'm sure they're not that bad, but there are some risks," Sarra said. "[I couldn't] find anyone who would endorse one."

After researching alternative options to kennels, Sarra found Camp Bow Wow and flew to Colorado to meet with the company's founder, Heidi Ganahl.

After overcoming the obstacles of finding a location for her camp and going back and forth with loan companies, she opened her business in 2008.

"It is such a great business model," Sarra said. "This whole daycare, open play environment was a relatively new concept when I first opened."

Sarra said that she was determined to have the dog daycare center in South Windsor because she did not want have a long commute for her children's sake. However, making the business a priority was something she and her children had to get used to.

"It took me a long time to get over the 'mommy guilt' and they didn't appreciate it at all," Sarra recalled. "[Before] I made sure I was home before them and had fresh banana bread for them. When I got the business that all changed."

Eventually her personal and professional life balanced out and her business is now thriving.

"For me, a lot of times I make decisions not based on what I know I can do but what I know I can't not do," she said. "I couldn't get off this ride without knowing I pushed for every bit of it."

For more information on Camp Bow Wow, visit www.campbowow.com/southwindsor.

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