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August is a busy time at S'wooft as both clients and staff families start to transition from a fun-filled summer and look toward fall, with many families sending kids back to school soon. In the midst of the busy-ness, we want to take a moment to celebrate staffer Natalie whose love for animals stems from having grown up around them early in her school years and throughout adulthood.

Natalie’s first pet was not the usual dog or cat, but a tan and cream-colored hamster named Rascal. Not only was Rascal Natalie’s first responsibility as a pet owner, but Rascal was also pregnant, so she was also Natalie’s first glimpse into birthing! It was quite an experience for someone of such a young age. Following the birth of Rascal’s babies, Natalie was fortunate to keep one of them and raise her.

Following her experience with the hamsters, Natalie adopted Grace, a short-haired, white and gray cat, who was rescued from the Anti-Cruelty Society. Grace provided Natalie with not only stability, but with overwhelming and unconditional affection. Grace helped Natalie through some difficult times involving apartment moves and relationships. She followed Natalie everywhere and seemed to always know when Natalie was having a bad day. Whenever Natalie came home from a long day at school or at work, Grace always made sure to plop down next to her on the couch or bed and offer her the much-needed cuddles that she knew Natalie needed. Her soothing purrs and affection always took the stress away.

Although Natalie’s life has been impacted by the pets she had earlier in life, nothing compares to the impact that her dog Indigo has had. Indigo entered Natalie’s life during a transitional period of moving into her new home and starting her web design business two years ago. Despite her busy lifestyle between her business and walking with S'wooft, Natalie’s days always revolve around making sure her fur baby is happy.

In addition to making sure that her fur babies at home are content, Natalie puts that extra care and compassion into the animals that she cares for at S’wooft! We asked Natalie some additional questions about her work with pets.

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

I’m currently working as a freelancer and going to school for web development. I’m hoping to complete my web development program in the spring of 2020. Working with dogs allows me to not only hang out with cute dogs at work but walking them allows me flexibility to work on my business and be outdoors every day, which is something that I enjoy.

How long have you been with S’wooft? Why did you choose to apply there? 

I’ve been at S’wooft for just over a year now! When I was looking into walking dogs, I interviewed at a few places, but as soon as I met Sarah and Lisa, I felt that instant warmth and immediately felt welcomed. I appreciated the fact that both felt excitement about their jobs and for the animals. This enthusiasm and warmth are also carried over to their clients and to the walkers.

I also appreciated that a part of the training process as a dog walker is the requirement that each dog be properly introduced to his/her walker. I think that this is important because it’s crucial to see how the dog initially reacts to his/her walker. The dog walker and dog need to be a good fit and there shouldn’t be any fear or distrust between them. If there is, the ability to bond with the dog and efficiently walk him could be an issue. When a dog walker goes to the dog’s home and into his space, in general, it’s important to have that trust from him.

Besides developing a connection with the dogs and earning their trust, Natalie believes that the dog walker should be someone who has experience with dogs and an understanding of them. She believes that watching how a dog interacts with you will give you some clues as to how the dog will be when out on a walk.

Any other advice?

Always remember to stash more poop bags than you think you need!

Share with us a fun fact about you.

I don’t have a middle name. Neither of my parents have a middle name, but I do have a middle initial. The middle initial is the first name of my grandfather, Frank. My parents were planning on naming me after him if I had been born a boy. After I was born, they gave me only the initial to honor my grandpa because they didn’t want to give me a boy’s name.

As Natalie honors her grandfather, we honor Natalie this month and are thankful to have such a dedicated and compassionate person on the S’wooft team!

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


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