Where It All Began

My house as seen from Google Earth

One of the most frequent questions I receive from customers is “How did you start? Where did your love of animals come from?”

So this is where I grew up. There is a house back there, but it’s mostly land on a busy highway, surrounded by woods and swamp. Not the most fun for a kid (just think – I couldn’t go anywhere without being driven, didn’t have friends close by, no pizza delivery, and I couldn’t play outside when deer hunting season opened). It did, however, spawn a deep appreciation of animals and nature. I could sit and feed chipmunks from my hands. I could look out my bedroom window and often see deer, wild turkeys, and raccoons. Once we even had a peacock on our roof that had escaped from a zoo several towns over. We had a pond in the back with several types of turtles, frogs, tadpoles, a muskrat. Our most abundant type of wildlife though (aside from the mosquitoes) were snakes. And my dad would bring them in the house for my sister and I to study upclose. Snakes still hold a special place in my heart but we’ll talk about that more in depth on a future post. I guess you could say I was groomed from day 1 to appreciate animals. We always had an assortment of pets and they always lived to ripe old ages. My first guinea pig is a standout for me – I begged for him when I was 6 years old and he lived 8 long and healthy years. They also still hold a special place in my heart. But this is where it all started – growing up in the country.

The pond in the corner where I made nets out of pantyhose and caught tadpoles, just to throw them back again.

I currently live a very different life, in an apartment in a busy city, surrounded by people. I often hear people talk about how they never had pets, and often still don’t have pets, and this blows my mind. I can’t fathom a life without animals. Sure, my home would be cleaner, my financial status would be a little more positive, I would be able to travel, I wouldn’t keep suffering the heartbreak when one passes, but this is my life and this is what I do. Some people dedicate their life to a sport, some to religion, some to their career. I live for my dog curling up beside me with unconditional love. I live for the bond between my young daughter and her cat. I live for the exuberance of ferrets, the intelligence of birds, the beauty of fish, and the vast variety of reptiles.

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul has remained unawakened.”

Anatole France


I’ve been wanting to do some writing for awhile but I wasn’t sure what to write about. There are countless blogs out there about cooking, parenting, plant care, pets. Which areas aren’t saturated with blogs and information but still full of misconceptions? The answer came to me as I was rifling through a stack of resum├ęs. There was a common theme happening here – 15 and 16 year olds looking for a first job, or post secondary students looking for summer work. It occurred to me that the pet industry is only seen as an easy in, a job that doesn’t require any sort of experience or education. I mean, why would someone need any relevant experience in order to play with animals all day? Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against those young teenagers looking for work. Some of my best employees over the years started with me very young. But over the years, as I became older and the potential employees became younger and younger, I realized that there are a lot of assumptions surrounding the pet industry so I’m going to shed some light on what it’s really like, from retail to management, to dog grooming, to veterinary. Over the years, I’ve been there and done it all and maybe, just maybe, I can begin to change some of the misconceptions out there, or maybe teach you some fun new facts.

“Cats have it all: admiration, an endless sleep, and company only when they want it.” – Rod McKuen