A 45-year-old mum with a serious lung disease has launched a business so she has a legacy for her children.
A Dog’s Life Doggy Day Care was due to open in Grantham this week in a former commercial laundry at the back of 105 Hornsby Road, behind the Costcutter supermarket.
The business will be run by Leisa Lister, a 45-year-old former model and Miss Southsea, who once appeared in TV’s Baywatch, when she was 21.
However, the venture is very much a family affair, with husband Liam a director, and daughter Fabienne Lister, 23, also working for the venture and is trained in animal behavioural techniques.
Son Mason, 11, who wants to sit care and behaviour papers when he leaves school, will help during school holidays. Grand-daughter Bailey, four, has been practicing at puppy training.
Leisa, who lives in Middle Street, Croxton Kerrial, has five dogs herself and Fabienne has two.
She said: “Everybody in our house is animal mad.”
In addition to working in the beauty world, Leisa has spent much of her life with dogs.
She said: “I used to do dog checking for the RSPCA and when we lived in Spain 11 years ago, I used to work for the Cat and Dog World kennels and breeding centre just outside Malaga. We have shown dogs. We have bred dogs and rescued many.”
The family returned to the UK and four years ago, Leisa was diagnosed with emphysema, a long term, progressive disease of the lungs that primarily causes shortness of breath. As tissue is damaged it becomes harder to breathe.
Though emphysema is linked to smoking, Leisa never smoked, but inherited it from her father and grandfather.
Leisa said: “I wanted to do something to leave to my kids. I want to leave them a legacy, something for them to carry on. We already look after everybody’s dogs in the village. It just made sense to do this. Why have a few dogs at home when I could be here with more dogs.”
Leisa and Liam applied for planning permission to change the use of the former laundry. They and friends also spent five months preparing the unit, which was “fly-tipped and in a right state.”
The family believe their doggy day care centre is the largest yet, approved by South Kesteven District Council.
In addition to playpens, inside and outside, the centre also has a specialist puppy room. There is also a smartphone hook-up ‘live stream’ service so owners can keep an eye on their pets while they are at work.
Leisa continued: “This is the first of four we are building, all fairly locally.
“We want others in Melton, Oakham and possibly the other side of Grantham.
“We don’t want them too far afield so we can stay together as a family.”
She continued: “This time next year, we will be building a second one.”
And though illness could shorten Leisa’s life considerably, she says she is fine, while she is on medication.
She added: “I will fight for as long as I can to stay this way.”