Dog Years: My Story

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Like so many of us, I dreamed of owning a business at a young age. I wouldn’t say I was business savvy as a child, but I knew I was going to forge my own path. I was lucky to land a decent job while I was in high school. Actually, I shouldn’t say that as I hate it when people say I am lucky to be where I am. I was a good student and was recommended by the teacher when the employer called the school looking for a student for part-time data entry work. I worked for an amazing man who quickly become my business mentor. Ron always valued my opinion, coached me and kept me in the loop of business decisions despite my young age. He started my involvement in the IT world and guided my decision away from vet school. He saw something in me and I know it was hard when I left to go. It wasn’t until many years later when I opened dogma that I realized how much he truly taught me.

I took a program in ecommerce and started a career in software development. I did not enjoy it. It was challenging, but it was the same routine and underwhelming with no creativity. I started my first company, Webnology, and offered web development services for small businesses. I started with a partner and she left after our very first project when the client was late paying. She did not want to leave the security of a full time job. I was disappointed, but this ended up being the best thing for me. Suddenly I needed to do things on my own. I started attending business networking events and launched a successful business.

I always wanted to work with animals, but vet medicine was not for me. I decided to begin volunteering at our local humane society and my life path launched into working with dogs. What an amazing feeling when you recognize your true passion. I could not get enough learning, experience and work with dogs. I took any job with dogs I could find and volunteered as often as possible. I slowly began to transition from the high paying world of web design and took jobs making $7.50/hour, excited for the opportunity to work with dogs. I realized that life was way too short to work to live. I wanted to do what I loved and knew I could do it well. Everyone thought I was crazy, but I had a vision, wanted to get my experience to certify as a trainer, and I took every naysayer as motivation to prove I could reach my goals.

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I incorporated dogma in 2006 and opened my first dog daycare and boarding facility in Calgary in 2008. I now have 2 locations, over 20 staff, see an average of 120 dogs/day between both facilities and run 30+ classes a week. We do private and group training, offer dog daycare, specialized puppy programs and a dog training apprenticeship program which has seen over 40 active graduates enter the dog training industry! We have set the standard in dog care and I am proud of what I have created. Like all of us entrepreneurs, it has been quite a journey; full of struggles, lessons, joys, despair, loneliness, strength, inspiration and wonders.

My goals?

To build a community of support. As an entrepreneur friends and family will never truly understand your struggles and accomplishments. If you just need affirmation, need help with a specific topic or want to know you are not alone, I want this blog to help. I believe we have specific challenges as female entrepreneurs, but also have specific traits that provide us with unique skillsets to enable tremendous success. We must learn to build each other up, learn and support each other and work together. Strength is in numbers. I want us to lead by example and encourage young females to live their dreams.

On a personal level I am fighting for the proper and humane treatment of animals, specifically dogs. I devote my time to educating dog owners, animal rescues, dog trainers and professionals who work with dogs. Some facilities are being run where dogs have died, or being hurt or traumatized. Training classes can be based entirely on fear and intimidation. So many animals live under extreme stress and fear. We can do more. We need to empathize better with the animals on our planet. This is one fight I will not stop.

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