By Johnny Jackson
Karla Cox's love of animals has led her to surround herself with dogs.
Last fall, she opened Dogs N Suds Pet Kennel in Stockbridge, to give pets a place to stay when their owners are away.
"Owning a kennel had always been a dream of mine," said Cox, 45. "I've wanted to do it since I was 10 years old. I enjoy taking care of the dogs, and I even enjoy cleaning up after them. I prefer being in a room full of barking dogs than being with people in an office."
Cox said business has so far been good for her small, start-up venture. She operates her kennel, located at 1584 Ga. Highway 138 East, in Stockbridge, like her own home.
The 3,000-square-foot kennel has 27 dog runs, about 80 square feet each. Cox said she often allows dogs out individually to roam her 1-acre back yard, where there is a 6-foot privacy fence.
"I feel like dogs should be able to go outside if that's what they want to do," she said. "What I find is that a lot of dogs like to be in their outside runs, and they really love to get in the yard and run around. I want to be able to go out in my yard and throw a ball to the dogs and make sure they are comfortable and happy while mom and dad are gone. I find that a lot of dogs like to get off the concrete and run and play and taste the grasshoppers."
Cox, who has lived in Stockbridge for 18 years, has about 30 years of experience with animals. Her first job was at a kennel, at the age of 15.
"I haven't had a job since that I haven't been working with animals," she said.
Cox, who is licensed by Henry County, used to own a grooming shop in Stockbridge by the same name as her kennel. She closed the shop in August, however, in order to focus her efforts on the new endeavor.
Cox's affection for animals has earned her some loyal customers.
"I trust Karla," said Marshall Ledbetter, who boards his 7-year-old Rottweiler-shepherd mix, Rosie, at the kennel. "I like the new kennel because of the runs she [Cox] has. The dogs can go out any time they want to ... I'm just comfortable with her [Rosie] there. She goes like it was her second home."
Customers can bring their own food for their dogs. Pet owners should be sure, however, that their pets are up to date on vaccinations. The kennel's flat rate is $23 per night, regardless of breed or size. The kennel offers a discount of $3 for animals that are spayed or neutered.