Meet the Owner
I am proud to say I have been a dog owner my entire life. Like most dog owners, these little creatures quickly become part of the family. Not a moment goes by when you are not focused on their well-being and your obligation to take care of them as if they were your children. Just like a mother with her children, my attention quickly becomes focused on my dogs if I notice them acting out of character. Some say this is neurotic, but if you have fur babies then you know I am not alone. Dogs are pack animals. It is in their nature to want to become part of a pack. Being domesticated animals humans are their pack... and I take this job very seriously.
If you are here, and you are reading this, then I’m willing to bet you can relate 100%. Chances are this will be relatable too, as pet owners and as guardians of the pack, leaving home can create discomfort for you and your dog. I experienced this firsthand having worked in the corporate world for many years. Leaving for work every morning was heartbreaking for them and for me. Often times when you leave dogs at home they can become depressed or disruptive because it's in their nature to be within a pack.
Luckily in this day and age, there are methods and tools that dog owners can implement to help relieve separation anxiety. Just a few years back, when I was in the corporate world, I also traveled a lot. I’ll never forget the anxiety of leaving my dogs. The anxiety of daily work was horrible enough but add to that the overnight trips, and honestly, I don't know how I managed. Boarding them overnight caused anxiety too. Would they be cared for with kindness and consideration, or would they be left in a cage for hours? Maybe I am an overthinker and maybe I am neurotic, but I’m not alone. I wanted the best for my dogs and inadvertently I wanted the confidence that while I was away my dogs were being provided love by people that would see them as their own. Not too much to ask for, right?
So in 2011, I made a decision that changed my life. I walked away from my six-figure job in the concrete jungle. I had the vision to open my own doggie daycare but I wanted the hands-on experience first. Loving dogs was number one, and that came easy. But I knew there would be more challenges to caring for multiple dogs than just love alone. I had to learn dog behaviors above and beyond the experience of my own dogs.
When I say I started at the bottom, I mean I started at the bottom…my friends thought I had hit rock bottom. No one could believe my career choice was of my own doing. My first gig was with a company called Doody Calls. I spent a year scooping poop at residential homes (in affluent areas on the North Shore) and commercial park areas. Talk about humbling. There’s probably no faster way of seeing who your real friends are, than leaving a cush job and scooping poop for a living. No one could understand why I left a job where I wore designer labels to scoop poop in an unflattering uniform. Day after day I drove a lime green truck that told the world I was in the poop business. With a pooper scooper in one hand and a bucket in the other, I did my due diligence, and guess what? I learned a lot from that poop. For example, I could tell when a dog was healthy and I could tell when the owners might need a heads up because their dog's poo just wasn't his or her normal. Turns out I was right more often than not. Yes, I became a poo-guru! A true poop whisperer. A shift happened, I was making a difference and I was making a bond with my clients. I was happy!
My clientele started to entrust me to care for their dogs and they started to refer me to their friends. Before I knew it I had a regular gig caring for dogs at my house. I was loving it, but I still wasn't 100% ready to open a facility of my own. So in 2012 I walked into Romp & Roll and convinced the owner to hire me. I told him I had a desire to learn everything about the business by working my way up to management, in hopes of owning my own doggy daycare in the future. He hired me and a new adventure began.
I’ll never forget my first day. A very energetic dog tumbled me off of my feet and I landed flat out on my back. I called my boss and tearfully said, maybe this isn't right for me. He convinced me to stay. He taught me to be the alpha and to learn each dog's personality. He said, “Dogs are like people, you need to study their behavior in order to establish appropriate communication skills. It doesn't happen overnight, and each dog will always be different.” I followed his lead and before you know it this 120-pound 55-year-old was the leader of the pack, and I loved it!
The next year and a half at Romp and Roll, not only taught me how to be the alpha but also taught me how to gain the trust of the dogs and their owners. I learned how to de-escalate challenges, how to manage unique issues, and how best to communicate with each dog individually. I learned the different temperaments of different breeds and how to care for all as a pack while allowing them to be individuals. I learned how to manage and balance male and female dogs. I learned the skill of introducing new dogs into the pack. I managed different rooms with different personalities. I was not just a poo guru anymore, I was the leader of a huge pack, and before I knew it, I hit my goal…I became a manager.
In 2013 it was time to spread my wings and venture off to create my own doggy daycare and build a pack of my own. Leaving Romp and Roll was bitter-sweet. I felt accomplished but leaving behind the attachments I created with the dogs and their owners was terribly difficult. For the first year, I watched a few dogs during the day and a few dogs overnight. In 2014 I found a location. The Beach Dog Daycare was official.
Flash forward to 2022, and after many years with The Beach Dog Daycare, I found a niche in the system and expanded my business even more. After many years working with the dogs we found that some of the smaller dogs just couldn't acclimate into the pack. Every day our front receiving area and office would have multiple small breeds that needed extra care. Not in all situations, but a number of the littles were best excluded from the big pack. If you are a small dog owner then you have come to realize some small dogs do not have a typical pack-dog mentality. Forcing them into the pack was never the answer. So I decided to break the daycare up and offer a safe haven for small dogs to be small dogs and a place for the big dogs to conduct business as usual.
So there you have it. That's my journey from corporate America into being the leader of not just one, but two packs. The bigs and the Littles, as the staff likes to refer to them.