April showers bring not only May flowers, but also another Staff Spotlight! This month we’re featuring Missouri native & avid cyclist Michael. He has been with S’wooft since early 2018 but has been walking dogs professionally for about five years.
Michael’s interest in animals goes back to his childhood in rural Missouri. His family owned a lot of land, so when stray animals came around, his dad took them in. These animals included dogs, cats, and birds, but out of all of them, his father had a special soft spot for the dogs that wandered onto their land. Once the animals became a part of his family, Michael was responsible for taking care of them. This included feeding, cleaning, and playing with the newly adopted animals. It was during this period that Michael met his first American pit bull terrier, Moe. Other than his first dog Buck, Moe made the biggest impact on Michael.
All he knew about pit pulls prior to meeting Moe was the negative stigma surrounding the breed. After their first encounter, however, Michael realized there was nothing to fear. Moe was simply a living creature in need of tender loving care, who proved to be a gentle soul, kind in nature, and the one to get Michael hooked on the breed. Pit bulls are Michael’s favorite and he now advocates for them, including being the proud owner of 2 ½ year-old pit bull Wade, the “sweetest pup in town.”
As a lifelong pet owner and lover, Michael was destined to find a job working with animals. We asked Michael more about professional pet care, as well as how he came to join the S’wooft team.
What was it that made you decide to work with animals?
M: Easy answer! I just love all animals and they seem to like me too. I know that I am good at taking care of them especially since there is so much joy in what I do. Working with animals is not work to me, it is a privilege to take care of them.
What is one tip that you would give on finding a good dog walker or on dog walking?
M: A good dog walker treats every animal as if it's their own. A walk is 30 minutes long but properly caring for one is a lifetime commitment, and as a dog owner, I properly care for all the dogs that I walk with that same commitment. Anyone can learn the technicalities of dog walking, but what really matters are the qualities of compassion, empathy, and common sense. This may sound simple but not everyone naturally possesses these qualities.
Why did you choose to work for S’wooft?
M: S’wooft places its primary focus on good customer service, pets and their well-being. Their focus aligns with what I believe in. Therefore, we are a good fit for each other. Other companies that I’ve worked for in the past placed their priorities on other things besides animal care and customer satisfaction.
Here are a couple of additional fun facts about Michael:
· He’s a comic! "I do comedy - improv and stand up. I'm mostly nerdy, but at times I can be very funny. I have done improv since I was 18 years old. I started out performing at Comedy Sports (now ComedyCity) in Kansas City, MO. I’ve also frequently performed with The Second City, The Annoyance Theatre & Bar, as well as The iO Theater. I was on the house team at The iO Theater for a year, meaning I was a regular performer with them. I am much more comfortable in front of a crowd (or dogs) than 1-on-1. I've performed in hundreds of shows where I’ve made people cry and gasp in awe. So many of the performances have made a profound impact on my career as a comic, as well as in my life."
· He leads the S’wooft bike team! "Being the first person asked to join the biking team at S’wooft was a big badge of confidence from the company. Many times, there is a fear when it comes to biking and sharing the road with other vehicles. Technically, bikes are slower than cars, but when it comes to transport between dog walking appointments, biking proves to be faster. I’m grateful to be a part of the S’wooft bike team and to open the door for other great bikers."
· He’s just been promoted! Starting April 29th, Michael will step into his new role as Pack Leader. He will be a supervisor for multiple walkers and their respective routes, providing additional on- and off-site training, providing assistance for pets with special behavioral/leash etiquette needs, serving as backup walker for his team, and assisting the S’wooft management team with new client orientation. While Michael was a natural choice for this new role due to his performance as a Dog Walker and given his past experience in the industry, his experience in retail management and team development also makes him an asset to the group he’ll be working with and supporting. Congrats, Michael!
The dedication and passion that Michael has for animals is evident. Michael takes the time to provide superior care for the dogs that he walks, as well as offering superior customer service to all S’wooft clients. S’wooft is fortunate to have such a dedicated professional on our team, and we’re happy to share him with the pet community!
For more on Michael and the rest of Team S’wooft, check out Our Team!