Ever since I was young, I had a love for animals. Growing up I was the neighborhood pet-sitter and rode my bike from house to house to care for dogs and cats while neighbors were out of town. I never grew up thinking I could make a career out of pet-sitting. My family did not get a dog until I was in high school, so pet-sitting was a great way to get my dog fix.
After the movie 101 Dalmatians came out, Dalmatians were immediately my favorite dog breed. However, I was young and knew nothing about them. Besides that, my parents always told me to "never get a Dalmatian because they are mean." It would be years and years before I would actually ever get one.
Fast forward to my adult life; when I moved to Florida from Wisconsin in 2008, I was on my own. I came down to finish my last semester of college doing an internship in sports marketing. I stayed in the sports marketing field working for a local agency event planning sports tournaments. It was at the time that I also rescued my first dog, Chesnee. She was a mixed breed with severe separation anxiety.
After a few years in the sports marketing field I soon moved into the fitness field where I was introduced to CrossFit. While I was working in the fitness field at a local CrossFit affiliate I also started a dog-sitting business 'for fun' to help gym members out while they were out of town. I also was introduced to dog agility and used the activity as a confidence building sport for Chesnee. Agility started building my interest for dog training.
I was working full-time at the CrossFit affiliate and dog-sitting on the side out of my home. I never imagined the demand for dog-sitting would be so great. After five+ years at the CrossFit affiliate I decided I needed to take a risk and dedicate my time to developing my dog-sitting business, Walker Ranch.
I started dog-sitting in 2012. It has been my livelihood and provided for me as a full-time career. It has been my way of life, full-time, since 2014. In 2015 (after almost 3+ years researching the Dalmatian breed and breeders) God gave me a Dalmatian. Woodwynd Hear Me Roar, or Settler (named after the street I grew up on), connected me with another local Dalmatian family, which I now consider to be my own family.
Settler the Dalmatian has been the opposite of everything anyone had ever told me about Dalmatians. He is lively, athletic, energetic, loving, and works to please. While I originally had my eyes on dog agility, my motivation started shifting towards giving back and helping other people through therapy work. Settler's love for people has made me want to work towards getting his Canine Good Citizen and eventually his highest level of therapy to enable us to visit hospitals.
So while dogs have provided for me, they are also my way of giving back. My journey is just beginning, but it is very exciting to think of the lives we will someday be able to change through therapy work.