I was born and raised in a small town north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My parents built a home in the suburbs where I became a tomboy since I preferred to play rough and tumble games and get dirty rather than play with inanimate dolls. This is also where I developed a passion for pets and their welfare.
My parents indulged me with cats, mice for a biology project and a special dog who taught me the value of grooming as well as a 4-H horse that taught me how to ride well at any speed or angle.
No one was surprised when I became a NDGAA certified dog groomer right out of high school and opened my own salon. This income helped pay my college expenses as I studied Animal Science.
The Waggin' Tails grooming business thrived and I continued along that path until I discovered a way to be involved in the show horse world. I apprenticed under a masterful horseman and together we developed World Champions for amateurs to enjoy.
Training horses and hobnobbing with the rich and famous sounds glorious but requires long hours seven days a week, with very little time off for friends and family. A traumatic experience with a raging brood mare who was in season gave me a new respect for life and how fragile it truly is.
I felt it was time to settle down, take a chance at marriage and start a new business of my own. At that time, pet sitting was gaining respect as a profession. I gained more training through Pet Sitters International and Veterinary Assistant Certification took it to a whole new level for me. That was my gig for 18 years of fun, mostly, but also saying goodbye to those furry clients that passed away or moved away.
During this time, I developed my skills as a positive reinforcement dog obedience instructor and raised funds through obedience classes to create the public Frostburg Dog Park in Frostburg, Maryland. As an officer of the Upper Potomac Valley All-Breed Kennel Club, I was able to initiate an agreement between the City of Frostburg, the kennel club and the dog park committee so that the future maintenance and development of the dog park would be ensured. This experience also helped me serve as a volunteer consultant and supporter of the Cascade Park Dog Park in my hometown.
However, I knew that I wanted more flexibility and profitability in my life. It was time to expand my circle of friends and to further my leadership skills. I wanted to still own my own business but also to be involved in an industry that was growing fast, was recession proof and could provide an on-going residual income. I started my search back in 2002.
My American Eskimo dog Blizzard was suffering from Cushing's disease. This was the catalyst for me to explore the world of holistic veterinary medicine. I was introduced to integrative therapies and the importance of food as medicine.
Blizzard sampled over a dozen foods: raw, frozen, canned and kibble. The brand that he preferred was from a privately-owned company. I trusted his decision but wanted to make sure that the company had integrity.
As a long-time pet professional, I was shocked that I was only vaguely aware of what was going on in the pet food industry. I had trusted the big brand names. My veterinarians told me that all pet food had the same ingredients. That fact was changing.
I made it a point to personally meet the owners and founders of this relatively new company. Then I met the product formulator, a veterinarian that truly cares about the health of our pets. I enthusiastically made the decision to join this team of pet lovers to provide solutions to pet parents like myself who want to have their pets live long, healthy, happy lives.
After Blizzard passed away at the age of 14, another Eskie that we named Schatzi came to live with us. She had been raised by a holistic breeder and continued to thrive on the brand of products that Blizzard had selected. Schatzi became a Champion in the show ring in record time and earned other performance titles with her happy attitude and diva presence.
Schatzi inspired me to co-author 4 books, one of which became a #1 Best Seller on Amazon. Check out A Funny Thing Happened While Pet Sitting: Pet Sitting Tails, A True Compilation of “Tales” from members of Pet Sitters International;
3 books in the Gratitude Book Project: 365 Days of Gratitude, Celebrating Mothers & Motherhood; and Best of Pets.
Best of Pets tells two of Schatzi's stories.
Once my parents became too ill to care for themselves, I shut down the pet sitting service so that I could respond to their emergencies.
Believe me, I was grateful that I had grown the pet nutrition business so that I still had my own income. My mother passed away and 3 years later my father passed away…then in that same year, at the age of 13, my darling Schatzi passed away from brain cancer. The grief runs deep…
The only way to go through grief is learn from experiences and use that knowledge to do more for others…and to get another pet. I have earned my Nutritious Life Certification so that I can help other people stay healthy. My next achievements will be getting certified in Pet Nutrition to the Master level. There are so few things in life that we can control but through healthy nutrition we can prepare ourselves and our pets to weather the storms.
I hope you join me for the next chapter…a life of Miracle Living With Gusto.