The TLC Pet Lodge Story

By George and Laraine Zivich, (written by Laraine)

I don't really remember what started my love affair with dogs, but I do remember that my sister and I went to England with my mother in 1953, and we were promised anything we wanted if we behaved ourselves during the transatlantic voyages, and while in England. We didn't behave, but my mother never found out about our explorations of the first class areas. My sister got her 3 speed bike, and I got “Trixie”, my first dog.

“Trixie” had a litter of pups at a young age, but I was determined to find good homes for the pups, which, at the age of 5 or 6, wasn't as easy as it sounded (but I did find them all homes).“Trixie” died at a very young age, from kidney failure. With today's knowledge, it was probably from Leptospirosis, but I'll never really know.

We didn't get another dog until my brother (thought) he got a Lab mix that he named “Pal”. We choose the dog – the dog chooses his owner. I called him “Bowser”. He was one of the more challenging dogs in my life! He established that he would have the majority of my twin bed, sat on my feet when it was my turn to do the dishes, and followed me everywhere I went. He always seemed to know when I was dressed for a special occasion, and would dash out of the house just as I was leaving. I'd track him down, and carry him home slung over my hip, which was a challenge, as he weighed probably half as much as I did.

After he ate the living room furniture, my parents decided he needed more room, and gave him to my Uncle Leroy as a hunting dog – Uncle Leroy claimed he was the finest hunting dog he'd ever owned. I cried most of the way home, but the next day, my parents took me to a pet store, where we got “Heather”, one of the meanest Scottish Terriers I've ever known! She hated anyone that wasn't part of the family, and I still have no clue how she got groomed!

“Heather” died from bladder cancer while I was in college, but not before she bit, and drew blood through a leather shoe of one of my friends.

George is not from a dog family. No one in his family has dogs. Never did, and never will. He graciously went along with my desire to own them. Our first purebred was a Saint Bernard. She was the owner of all the family members. Bit almost every child in the neighborhood when they were threatening “her” children, chasing them, and screaming during games. She ended up having to “go to bed”, which she did on her own, when there were guests.

Owning a Saint for 11.5 years taught me that I didn't want a dog that would shed, smell like a dog, or spit on my ceilings! I arranged the purchase of my first Airedale Terrier the same day we had to say goodbye to “Heidi”.

“Jane” is to blame for our kennel. We got her in 1983. We also got addicted to showing dogs from her. Our daughter Marj, got her Novice Junior Showmanship completed by having the nerve to go in the ring with an Airedale. (She later acquired a Welsh Terrier, “Randy” from our handlers, Allison Corn and David Johnson, and became the first junior handler to win a Best Junior Handler in Show with a Welsh Terrier, and was awarded Junior Handler of the Year by the Welsh Terrier Club of America).

“Jane” had her first litter in 1985. This litter produced 3 Champions, and the addiction intensified. At one point in time, we had 20 dogs in the house! Marj was breeding Welshies, and I Airedales. We have a 3 dog limit in our city, and could only let three out at a time. We had to do something, so George and I started looking at established facilities. I mentioned this to my veterinarian, and was told by him, “Why look at facilities away from Mentor when we needed a good facility here!”

So “Jane” started it, Roy, our vet, pushed it, and we went through the hassle of zoning hearings, education, (I earned my Ken–Tech from ABKA, and got certified as a dog groomer – all while working 11pm – 7am as a Medical Technologist). George had earned his MBA during this time, as well. We got one of the first SBA loans given to a kennel, thanks to the help of our CPA Jim (who later told us that he thought we were crazy to sink all of our money into a KENNEL? – and had we thought of franchising!).

Mentor TLC Opens in 1990

We opened Mentor TLC Pet Lodge in 1990, and have never had to look back. George is still active in the business, doing the things MBA's do, but I have been forced to retire, due to health reasons.

I know where Marj gets her love of animals, and am grateful to her for her tenacity and foresightedness in taking over as manager of the kennel, and working to bring Mentor TLC up into the 21st century.

The business is not the same as it was in 1990. She is working more hours than I ever did to provide a superior service to the dogs and cats in our area. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK, Marj!