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Kennels made to last

Kennels made to last

A journey back to his farming roots and a love of working dogs has seen Richard Emsley take a career pivot three years ago.

After moving to New Zealand after a career as a gamekeeper in the U.K., Emsley returned to life as a full-time farmer, which involved purchasing a team of farm dogs for working stock.

After being unhappy with the kennels on the market, Emsley decided to build his own.

“I had quite a large Huntaway, and come lambing time, he was kennel bound because I didn’t want him around lambing ewes,” Emsley says.

“So I made the kennel roomy, so it was a good size if he had to spend the day in there.”

That first kennel Emsley built five years ago was robust, roomy and insulated, and it wasn’t long before he was getting requests for custom builds for neighbouring farmers.

What began as a side hustle quickly began to turn into a full-time business at Southern Cross Dog Kennels.

“We got to the point where we were working 60 hours on the farm, and I was pulling some pretty long night shifts at home building dog kennels as the business picked up.

“With the mix of that and kids coming along, I had to choose whether to carry on with the kennels or carry on farming.”

In 2020, Emsley gave up farming to concentrate on the business, and since then, Southern Cross has gone from strength to strength.

“As well as being better for the welfare of working dogs, our kennels are a lifetime product, not a disposable one, “Emsley says.

As well as the kennels being more robust and spacious than others on the market, all kennels are insulated, which is recommended for dogs that are left brave the cold South Island winters.

Two years ago, Emsley began offering wool insulation, which is proving an increasingly popular choice for customers, Emsley said.

“At least 50 per cent of our kennels are now going out with wool insulation.”

by Claire Inkson