I have devoted my life to helping dogs in need. It’s my passion, my purpose and the one thing that brings the most happiness into my world.
At the age of 14, I got my first job working at a veterinary hospital. I worked as a veterinary technician for 13 years and learned the ins and outs of the medical world.
I used to think I wanted to be a veterinarian, even at the age of six I would tell my family, “when I grow up I want to be a vegetarian.”
Really I meant veterinarian but maybe I was onto something because I really am a vegetarian now.
As I got older I realized I wasn’t going to help dogs in the way I wanted to if I went to vet school. I had something more to give.
I decided to move to Santa Barbara six years ago, and in doing so my eyes were opened to the world of euthanasia in shelters.
I started to learn how many dogs get euthanized in shelters every single day due to medical ailments, behavioral issues or simply because there is not enough space for all of them.
In 2012 I founded a dog rescue, Deserving Dogs Rescue and Rehabilitation. It was a foster-based rescue with very little resources that I ran on my own with a handful of dedicated fosters.
I had no idea how much it would change my life or how big of an impact it would have on so many dogs and families.
In just one year of starting the rescue I was awarded Santa Barbara’s young professional charity of the year. I ran DDRR for three years and adopted out over 350 dogs, most whom had medical or behavioral issues.
I learned a lot about myself in those three years, as they were some of the most difficult I had ever endured. I don’t think you really know how passionate you are about something until you are willing to sacrifice everything for it.
In those three years of rescuing dogs I sacrificed the majority of my life. My social life diminished, I no longer had days off and my living situations, because I fostered so many dogs at once, were rough to say the least.
I’ve lived in everything from a horse stall, to a studio with no running water — and at one point I didn’t have a place to go so I camped.
My dedication for dogs became very clear to myself and what I was willing to do for them.
However, with such great sacrifice I gave up too much of my own happiness. I was not taking care of myself and it would have been impossible for me to continue on the way I was. I needed to work on achieving a more balanced life for myself in order to help the more intense dogs that I now help today.
Shortly after I started my rescue I applied for a job at Santa Barbara’s only no kill shelter, D.A.W.G. Some of the positions I held included kennel manager, veterinary technician and adoption counselor.
In working there I learned from some of the most dedicated and passionate people I have ever met. Dr. Carl Zaboly was one of my greatest mentors there. He had volunteered a lot of his own time to help the dogs I was rescuing.
In working at D.A.W.G., I gained the perspective on how I wanted to run my rescue, and how dedicated I wanted to be for dogs who ended up in the shelter system.
When I was 25, I met another great mentor in my life and someone who is now a good friend of mine, Brian Glen, who started to teach me more about dog behavior.
He volunteered his time with me every Tuesday and helped me work with my most intense rescue cases. He taught me how to put packs of dogs together and how to walk them all together.
We started doing free training classes in Santa Barbara and at our first class we hosted together we had over 30 dogs show up. The free training help has now evolved into the free community pack walks that we host which average about 50-60 dogs who show up.
In the last year I have been fortunate enough to learn from some trainers that I have a great amount of respect for, including Cesar Millan, Linn Boyke, Brian Agnew and Cheri Lucas.
Last year I went to the Best Friends National Conference and I heard some inspiring and amazing people tell their stories about what they have done in their life to help animals in need.
As I sat and listened to them speak, I envisioned myself doing just as incredible things. I know that if you have enough passion and self-belief you can accomplish some amazing things so I went for it and posted on my Instagram page an idea of a road trip where I would provide free training help to those who needed it.
On April 14th, 2016 I will be hitting the road to travel through more than 20 states in two months to provide my help, free of charge.
I will be stopping at shelters and will also be hosting free community pack walks along the way.
I think it’s important for everyone to be educated about dog behavior and how our energy influences it so strongly — so that’s why I’m so determined to reach as many people as I can.
I believe that everyone needs a little help along the way and if I can be the person to provide that to them I’m happy to.
While I ran my rescue I struggled through 3 years of my life feeling defeated. The only reason I stayed motivated at that time was the help I had received from others.
I want to make sure if people need my help, words of encouragement or just some support for their relationship with their dog that I am able to provide it for them, free of charge because I know how important that once was for me.