Call Us! (253) 531-5589
Serving all of the Pierce County and Puget Sound Area

Would you believe, that during our busiest boarding months, we consume:

  • dog-kennel-tacoma-wa2400 lbs. of dry dog food
  • 1250 cans of dog food
  • 300 lbs. of rice
  • 96 cans of Vienna sausage
  • 40 large containers of low-fat cottage cheese
  • 200 lbs. of dog biscuits
  • 8 cases of various baby foods
  • 150 lbs. of dry cat food
  • 240 cans of cat food
  • 400 lbs. of kitty litter


Kennel History, the Important Parts

kennel-tacoma-waThe owner of Gillshire Kennels, Liz Thompson, purchased the kennel in 1981, from a couple who operated a 'mom and pop' business. Working 20 hour days, as new business owners are apt to do, Liz did all the cleaning, feeding, grooming, telephone work, purchasing, customer service, and poopy scooping.

It was during this time that she began to develop the standards and animal care procedures that would eventually be the foundation of her success.

The first kennel employee was a professional groomer, which gave Liz more time to spend with customers and their pets. It was slow going those first few years, but the word began to spread: for people who treat their pets like a family member, Gillshire Kennels is the only place to board.

Several customers mentioned that dropping their dog off at the kennel was as easy as dropping their kids off at a relative's house, that the kennel was "like one of the family".

Every couple years, Liz added another kennel employee to help her take care of the animals. The kennel has always had a larger 'staff to pet' ratio than any other kennel, because it takes people to give quality care. Whether you're talking 'nurses to patients' or 'waitresses to customers', the better the ratio, the better the care and service. It's no different at a kennel.

pet-kennel-tacoma-waUnwilling to cut corners on quality dog food, cleaning supplies, or staff, it took nearly 10 years for the kennel to turn the corner financially. It took that long to develop a customer base that would keep the occupancy rate high during the 'off' season.

Most kennels are full during tourist season and holidays. But it is unheard of in this area, for a kennel to have a 60% occupancy rate in February, like Gillshire Kennels does.

So, in the early nineties, Liz was able to begin expanding the kennel facilities. The size of the 'little house' was more than doubled; the outside play yards were expanded and covered for year round use, a laundry room was built, a commercial washer was installed, a room was added on specifically to board birds, and a building just for cats was built.

The original buildings were upgraded and remodeled. On the drawing board for the near future: another commercial washer and more outside runs.

Currently, the kennel has 12 employees, Liz is still a 'hands-on' owner and works 6 1/2 days a week. Chances of a second kennel location or franchise: when those Scottish scientists perfect human cloning!

Employee Bio's

For as much as everyone around here likes to talk, it sure is difficult to get them to talk about themselves!

The owner: Graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a biology degree. After working for several employers, she began searching for a position that would allow her to devote a lot of time to her hobby of breeding and showing Old English Sheepdogs, Dalmatians, and Shihtzus. Potential employers weren't very accommodating to her needs, so she leaped into the kennel business on her own.

Despite working with animals all day long, she has a little energy left over for her two dalmatians, cattle dog, kitty, and amazon parrot. She is married to the kennel, likes to go dancing with her other husband, bowling with the 'girls', and secretly gets a thrill when she denies her sixteen year old step-son's request to drive her cherried out mustang.

First Name: Crystal
Date of Hire: March 2008
Interest, hobbies, jobs, schools, training or experiences relating to animal care: I 'm always interested in learning about animals breeds. I have a golden retriever 10 yrs. old chihuahua 8 yrs.old. My kitty cat Libby 5 yrs. old and my tortoise, Miss Teddy 6 yrs. old. There are also many fish that have found a place in my home over the years. 

Work is my 1st hobby. I love gardening with my puppy's helping, of course. They recently helped me plant 5 new fruits trees in my backyard. Another love of mine is Quilting. I really enjoy making interesting blankets for everyone with different shapes making up a silhouette of their favorite animal.

Anything unusual, unique, or interesting about you, your life or your relationship to the kennel: Since I've started here everyday has brought a chance to learn something new. I can administer allergy and insulin injections. I can administer all sorts of medications including eye ointment and drops. Liz has been the best boss. She is a wonderful listener with a huge heart. If I ever need to know anything she's right there with an answer. 

Liz was one who motivated me to become a homeowner at the age of 22. It's been  a wonderful adventure. Recently I purchased my first new truck. I'm glad I've had Liz to help me with all of these things. It's been awesome to work for someone who takes such great care of the animals and the employees. Here at the kennel, on our birthday, we even get a cake! I think she is pretty fantastic!

Birth Date:
Marital Status: Married to my job!

Family Info: I'm oldest of 6 children. All of us grew up with dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, rats and mice. We even had a ram. There were bunnies, chinchillas and even snakes in our house. My parents always taught us the importance of carrying properly for the pets we made part of the family.

First Name: Nicole
Date of Hire: January 2008
Interest, hobbies, jobs, schools, training or experiences relating to animal care: I enjoy photography, hiking, bird watching, exploring new and old places, trying new and interesting restaurants. I grew up around animals and now own one cat, Kali, and two budgies, Miko and Claire.

Anything unusual, unique, or interesting about you, your life or your relationship to the kennel: Contrary to popular belief, Crystal and I are not related, but we've worked side by side almost every day so we might as well be.

Birth Date: 3/12/86
Marital Status: Engaged
Family Info: Half of my family lives in Michigan and the other half in Georgia. I've visited them several times over the years that I have lived in Washington, and I miss them very much.

First Name: Shirley
Date of Hire: March 26 2014
Interest, hobbies, jobs, schools, training or experiences relating to animal care: I love to build box forts with my kitty cat. I love to play video games and fishing. I camp, hike, rollerblade. I adore frenchies! Working here has been a wonderful opportunity to see so many different dogs. I've had so much fun getting to know all the pups and look forward to seeing them.

Anything unusual, unique, or interesting about you, your life or your relationship to the kennel: I have one kidney and 9 1/2 toes.

Birth Date: 9/6/89
Marital Status: Single
Family Info: N/A

First Name: Alisha
Date of Hire: June 28th 2014
Interest, hobbies, jobs, schools, training or experiences relating to animal care: I love anything to do with the outdoors, camping, hiking, fishing, and exploring. I enjoy knitting, baking, reading cards and board games, thrift shopping and spending quality time with my boyfriend and our 2 pups.

Anything unusual, unique, or interesting about you, your life or your relationship to the kennel: I'm adopted!

Birth Date: 8/5/92
Marital Status:
Family Info: I grew up on a ranch in a family of eleven. I have 5 sisters and 3 brothers, 6 of whom are adopted!