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Growing up, S’wooft team member Justin was surrounded by cats and dogs, and he was often responsible for not only their well-being, but also potty training and teaching other commands. Justin learned training basics from his mother and from books like “The Art of Raising a Puppy.” When he got his first dog at the age of 11, he was ready for the joys and challenges that come with raising a pup!

Shiseido was a handsome, well-behaved, faithful, and unbelievably loving Chow Chow who was found in an abandoned house and rescued by a family member who was working as an undercover cop. Justin quickly grew attached to Shiseido, who demonstrated a dog’s ability to comfort and love unconditionally. Chows are also known to be instinctively protective of their family. This particular breed was used by the Chinese as a working dog, performing tasks such as hunting (wolves, sable and pheasant), guarding boats, and protecting the home. Justin grew up around a lot of big dogs with all different histories and personalities, so he learned to appreciate the uniqueness of each one.

Justin’s love for animals grew from there, with him now caring for dogs and cats every day. Each pet has a different story, personality, and connects with Justin in a unique way. Justin shares his story about Jemma, a rescued dog from Texas.

Can you share a story about how a customer’s pet made an impact on your life?

When I first started walking Jemma, she was very guarded when it came to where I could pet her. I was told that she didn’t like her chest touched. She could also be very aggressive toward loud trucks or cars. As time passed, she warmed up to me and we’ve developed a mutual trust. Jemma now allows me to rub her chest and belly and is genuinely happy to be around me. She just melts into me whenever I pet her! Having gained Jemma’s trust is something I don’t and will never take for granted.

We asked Justin to tell us more about his dog walking journey and what led him to S’wooft.

What was it that made you decide to work with animals?    

Due to an unexpected career change, I decided that I wanted to find a job that involves my passion for animals. I had previously worked in the security industry for many years and found the transition to dog walking to be a smooth one. As a dog walker at S’wooft, I am responsible for securing our clients’ homes, always be aware of my surroundings, and acting on both training and instinct. This, of course, is in addition to walking a ton and being responsible for the dogs that I walk. Having had the experience in security has helped me use my learned skills of awareness and instinct and apply them to my current position.

What’s one tip you can give for finding a great dog walker and dog walking in general? 

Dogs are like people. They can be temperamental. I believe that a good dog walker should have the ability to read a dog, observe their behaviors, and adjust. Dogs will let you know when they are tired, sick, thirsty, hungry, or just looking to relax. It’s important to communicate openly and show respect for the dogs that are being walked. Most importantly, you always have to adhere to safety guidelines and follow their care instructions to a “T”, especially with medication and feedings.

Why did you choose to work for S’wooft? 

I met Sarah at a local hiring event. After speaking with her, I knew immediately that this was the job that I wanted and that S’wooft was the place for me! I’ve been working at S’wooft since September 2018 and was excited to celebrate my 1year “S’wooftiversary” this past September.

...and we were happy to reward him with some S'wag for his 1yr celebration! Justin has shown us his commitment and dedication to the pet community, as well as to his job, but what are some things that we don’t know about Justin? We asked him to share a bit more about himself.

Share some fun facts about you!

I love anime, like REALLY love anime. The artwork is amazing and the music is awesome! Simply put, I believe anime is a medium that brings people together. While the content can be extremely diverse, the emotional connection I feel with anime allows me to bond with others through these shared sentiments and experiences. I believe that anime also creates a sense of uniqueness and individuality.

Another fun fact is that I enjoy baking. I have a big sweet tooth and enjoy making yummy creations for my family. I love making cupcakes and injecting them with different fillings. I would say that decorating, more than baking, is the reason why I enjoy this so much. I can be completely creative and am content when the product is both tasty and aesthetically pleasing!

Since we just celebrated Thanksgiving, what are you thankful for?

  • Two years ago, my son and I were in a life-threatening situation. I am thankful daily that we survived that incident.

  • I am thankful for my wife and how strong our marriage has become.

  • I am thankful for how healthy I have gotten after starting this job. So far, I’ve lost about 60 pounds!

  • I am also very thankful for all our fur baby clients that I can spend time with everyday.

Having overcome personal challenges, Justin gives credit and thanks to not only his family and friends, but to the pet community who have made such an impression on his life. S’wooft gives thanks for Justin, in addition to all of Team S’wooft, our customers, community, and all our furry friends!

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