MIDDLETOWN — Pam Stevens’ Middletown bed and breakfast has guests every day of the year. They are treated well, each with their own space, two meals a day and 24-hour care.

They also slobber Stevens with kisses every day.

As the owner of Bone Appetit, a dog-boarding business run out of her home, Stevens cares for dogs whose owners go on vacation or out of town for any reason. The level of care she provides is more reflective of a canine bed and breakfast as opposed to traditional boarders, she said.

“These are my babies. They deserve to stay in a nice, clean, pretty place,” Stevens said of her home’s basement, which has been transformed into a doggie spa of sorts.

Candles sit on top of the basement’s fireplace, and a soothing fountain provides relaxing sounds for the dogs. Crates line the walls, each with a plush bed and stainless steel water and food bowls. A sitting area set up in one corner allows Stevens to spend nearly all day with her guests.

Always an animal lover, Stevens remembers saving up her allowance when she was 14 to buy her first dog, a $33 toy poodle named Eric Antonio. As an adult, she took a job cleaning the house of gospel legends Bill and Gloria Gaither, whose two collies took a liking to her.

Soon, Stevens found herself caring for several Gaither family dogs, and after word spread, she found herself with 30 clients. Her clientele dropped to 15 when she moved to Middletown five years ago, but has steadily grown since to more than 350 families.

“I’m really shocked at the clients we have,” she said.

Stevens receives two to 10 phone calls a day from clients, about half of whom are new. After a recently finished basement remodel, Bone Appetit had an open house, bringing in even more new customers. Stevens said her clients like that they know their dogs will be safe and the objects of much attention while they’re gone.

“Being in-home, I just think it’s more personal,” Stevens said. “That’s what they come here for, to have fun and be loved. I get kisses every single day; who could beat that?”

Stevens’ 16-hour day starts when the dogs wake her up between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m. She takes them outside in groups according to their size, age, personality and health issues. While outside in Stevens’ fenced yard, they run around and play with the toys she has for them. The dogs then get their first meal of the day, along with fresh water and medicine if they need it.

Stevens will work with each family to care for their dog the same way it is cared for at home, taking in even special needs animals who need regular shots. Like a doctor’s office, she keeps a chart on each dog with its medical and care needs.

After two or three trips outside in the morning, the dogs take an afternoon nap, a time Stevens uses to clean the house, read or sometimes take a nap herself. Dogs are dropped off and picked up between 4-6 p.m., after which they have another meal and go outside before prayers and bedtime.

“We do say a prayer with the babies at night,” Stevens said. “It helps me to kind of focus and know what that whole day was about.”

In fact, Stevens prefers to think of her boarding facility as a ministry rather than a business.

“This is definitely a God-given ministry,” she said. “It’s an answer to prayer. When people come here they feel the Lord here and they can have peace of mind.”

Stevens and her husband have six dogs of their own — three pugs, a maltese, a shih tzu and a puggle. Her husband works at Myers Autoworld in Anderson, but also is an animal lover. He has been known to allow scared guest dogs to sleep in the Stevens’ bed at night, Stevens said.

Stevens is so dedicated to the dogs she boards, she often will buy them gifts, especially around Christmas time.

“Nine chances out of 10 if you find me gone, you’ll find me at PetSmart or at Wal-Mart in the pet section,” she said. “They’re just like my children. They make me happy. That means a lot to enjoy your job.”

Stevens’ facility can hold up to 36 dogs at once, but she likes to keep her guests to 25 or less to give them more attention. Dog owners pay $16 a night per dog for boarding there, regardless of special needs.

“I want people to bring me their babies and let me help them raise them,” Stevens said. “It’s not about the money. It’s about taking good care of these babies.”


Looking for a dog boarder?

— Bone Appetit, 8450 W. 575N, Middletown

— $16/night, regardless of breed or special needs; free trial available for new clients

— Call (765) 779-4331 for reservations

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