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While the majority of us are cooped up at home during the shelter in place order, we thought this might be a good time to live vicariously through one of our staff members who is traveling out of necessity for his job (and taking all available health precautions, of course!). Joshua has been with S'wooft for over a year and is also a full-time flight attendant for a major airline. Flying the friendly skies and interacting with people from all walks of life isn’t all that he's passionate about! Joshua has had a penchant for animals for as long as he can remember.

As one of five boys in his family, Joshua relentlessly begged his father for a pup and finally got one on his 6th birthday – a tiny cocker spaniel named Rambo. Joshua remembers the day when he returned home from school and saw Rambo running toward him from behind the gate of his house. Talk about a pleasant surprise! Joshua has many fond memories of Rambo, but we wanted to know one or two that particularly stood out.

Can you share a memorable story or two about Rambo?

Well, at first my mom insisted that Rambo stay outside. Eventually, she learned that Rambo was not an outdoor dog but a true indoor lap dog. My mom got into the habit of watching soap operas with Rambo, so she made me bathe him once a week since I was the one who wanted him to be inside. I used to love how excited he was after getting his baths! 

Through the years, other furry friends came into Joshua’s life and became a part of his family. We asked him to share another great experience with us.

My very first job was as a pet sitter. One fond memory that comes to mind involved a golden retriever mix named Nugget. He was the most mischievous dog I’ve ever dealt with. This dog was a ball of energy, and on one occasion, he bolted out the front door of his house and ran outside. When I went to chase after him, I looked at his face and he looked like the happiest dog on the planet. It was obvious to me that he knew what he was doing and was bolting out of the house and escaping for the pure joy of it. It was written all over his face, even when I finally caught up to him!  

Taking care of the dogs that I sat for taught me responsibility, accountability, punctuality, and even elementary business skills! I soon became very popular through word of mouth and I eventually had to come up with a business model to accommodate everyone. 

We asked Josh what it was that attributed to his early success as a pet sitter.

What was it that made you stand out as a pet sitter? 

I think I stood out as a pet sitter and my business grew because I went the extra mile. Insulin injections? Teach me how to do it, and I will. Special diets? Show me the recipe and I will do it. I focused on keeping the pets’ routine the way the parents had it, and even then, went above and beyond expectations. One example of this is with Nugget’s family. Nugget was one of 4 dogs, 3 cats, and an African parrot living in a mansion in North Carolina. The plants and flowers of the campus required daily watering in the summer, of which I obliged. I told the family that there was no need to hire a gardener, I would take care of it. I spent hours outside with the animals watering the plants and playing with them.

From extraordinary pet sitter to later dog walker, animals continued to remain in Joshua’s life. Taking care of animals also provided a great deviation from having to interact with people due to his job as a flight attendant. For Joshua, taking care of animals and dog walking is a fun job where it’s not required for him to shave and put on a suit and tie (although, in the first few months of working with S'wooft, we did have to convince him that it's okay to dress down!).

In working for S’wooft, Joshua enjoys working continuously with the same dogs so he’s able to develop a rapport with them. Even when he is traveling for work and on the other side of the world, these dogs bring him joy and something exciting to come home to.

We know that animals play a huge role in Joshua’s life, but S’wooft asked him to share some other fun facts about himself outside of working with animals.

Share a couple fun facts about you:

  • I am originally from Tegucigalpa, Honduras. I lived there until age 17 and came to the USA with an academic scholarship. 

  • I played violin for many years and was a vocal performance minor in college! I’ve sung in several operas both at university performances and professional opera companies. I’ve also done some gigs in musical theater and acting. I didn’t play violin while in college and for a few years after that, but now I’m starting to play again. Regarding singing, I haven’t done any professional singing since I became a flight attendant. I’m waiting to have a flexible schedule that allows me to do it again. In the meantime, I just sing to myself and when I get together with friends; we like to sing, drink, and play the piano. I also sing to Barksdale the pup on a regular basis. I love singing to him because I love all the faces he makes!

It's evident that Joshua has a connection with the animals in his care. He believes in the importance of getting to know each dog and reading the signs that they give off. If the dog pulls on the leash, gently but assertively let them know who is leading the walk. If the dog is mature in age, observe how they walk, when they stop, how they pant, and make sure to not push too hard. It’s important to be observant and create relationships with each dog. Just like the trusting and caring relationship that Joshua has built with his furry friends, we at S’wooft are grateful to have the same relationship with Joshua.

Particularly during this time of uncertainty brought by the pandemic, which unfortunately included temporary lay offs of our staff, we appreciate the commitment of each of our team members and their eagerness to return to work as soon as we get the all clear for pet services to resume. Their dedication to this team and to the pets we serve has been unmatched and we look forward to returning to our daily privilege of caring for your pets.

Learn more about Joshua and the rest of Team S’wooft by visiting Our Team!

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