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Meet Ashley Howard of Passionate Pack

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Howard.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’ve always had a special connection with animals, but I started to work in the pet industry in 2011. For 4 years I worked at a free run dog grooming spa, which also had dog day care and pet boarding. I got really close with many clients and their dogs and decided to venture out on my own when I turned 30. With the blessing of my amazing boss I was able to start my own dog walking and pet sitting business with a small handful of clients from that job. From there it grew with word of mouth and some marketing. I now work with the Orange County Pitbull Rescue and help to walk a few of their foster dogs. It has been so rewarding to see the amazing people who help in rescuing this incredibly misunderstood breed. I too own a Pitbull so I definitely know the stigma that comes with having such a dog. I absolutely love what I do and plan on doing it for the rest of my life!

Has it been a smooth road?
Even though this is a very rewarding and fun job, there are definitely some struggles. With this job there is no guarantee of steady work. I have a few dogs that I constantly walk weekly. However most of my clients just hit me up when they need me to fill in for a walk that they can’t fit in or a feeding they can’t make it home in time for. So, some months are packed full of walks and pet sittings, but others are very limited on the dogs I see. Another thing I have to consider is the fact that dogs unfortunately don’t live forever. I get very heart broken, for the client and the fact that I lose a friend. But with this being a job I also lose a small bit of income. There are also dogs that move away or living situations change and they no longer need my services. Another thing I struggle with are untrained dogs. As much as I love these dogs they can be a real handful!

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Passionate Pack’s motto is ” Packness makes perfect ” I truly believe in the power of the pack. I try to work with the dogs on making dog friends and on the clients, being comfortable with that arrangement. I believe that aggression is misdiagnosed a lot of the time. It can be fear, insecurity, or just a lack of manners. And then these dogs are labeled aggressive and it’s completely unfair. They just need a little guidance with impulse control, proper socialization and confidence building. I really like to work with big “aggressive” breeds. Pitbulls are my main focus. Many dog walkers and pet sitters won’t take on this breed simply because of the fact that they are a pitbull. They won’t even meet with the client and that is just sad to me because some of the best dogs I’ve met are pitbulls or pitbull types. I will never say no to walk or watching a dog because of past behavior. I actually prefer to work ” aggressive dogs” because I live the challenge to get them to trust me. I have been told countless times that “I can’t believe that they are letting you pet them, they never let anyone do that.” But I understand that ever dog is different and therefore needs to be treated in the way that makes them comfortable. I take pride in helping a misunderstood dog to get their point across. They can’t speak English or Spanish or French or whatever language one may use with them.

So helping the owner to understand Dog language is so important in helping with the day to day lives of these dogs and their owners.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I feel like our city is an amazing place to have a pet business. Our weather is beautiful. And when the weather doesn’t permit a walk, due to being too hot, there are so many dog friendly places to walk around with your dogs. For anyone trying to start out I would definitely recommend doing it for friends or family to see if it suits you. If you find you like it I would recommend getting a support system. Whether it be a Facebook group or some friends in the industry. This can become a lonely job if you don’t make in effort to keep in contact with humans. You also just need to get an outside perspective sometimes or you can totally get stuck in your own head.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Orange County Pitbull Rescue

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