Meet Judi Anderson-Wright, Co-owner & Director of Canine Education
Here I am making my first post on the Great Dog blog! It makes sense to me that I should share a little bit about who I am and how I came to be co-owner of Great Dog.
Here is the true story: I fell out of the shop door. Flat on my face in the middle of a hot summer day-wearing a skirt! It was not a pretty picture. Me on my face, my Westie, Hozel and my Lhasa Apso, Harrah dashing toward Roosevelt Way because I dropped my leashes as I went splat on the pavement. Luckily Leslie, my now business partner and founder of Great Dog, was right there and she snagged the dogs before they made it to the street! She helped me up, took me inside and cleaned up my scrapped knees, applied Band-Aids and silently prayed that I would not sue her for falling out the door. She shared this with me months later when she offered me my first job at Great Dog as a daycare “dog enthusiast”. Looking back on that fateful fall out of the door, I fell into doing something that I had wanted to do for many years: Leave behind the corporate world and work
At the time I was working for a communications and publishing company that created, produced and trained teachers to work with infants. It was stimulating and sometimes fun. In reality I had enough of corporate culture and the stress of dealing with people who were less than enjoyable to be with on a daily basis. I knew that I loved every moment that I spent with my own canine family members, and I recalled with joy my first career working with individuals who were disabled as they learned how to utilize their service dogs to move about their homes, neighborhoods and jobs. At that point in my career I was teaching the human learners how to negotiate their routes to and from and in their environments with the assistance of dogs. The dogs and people had already taken training school together at either the Seeing Eye School or Guide Dogs for the Blind and had returned to their homes where I would take over the next part of their training: how to partner with the already trained dog to move safely about. I enjoyed every moment of that work. I recall telling myself that at some time in the future I wanted to work with the dog side of the training. It would take me 20 years plus before I got my dream to work with the dogs!
Soon after meeting Leslie on the fateful day of “falling” I started stopping into Great Dog on a regular basis to buy my dog food and visit with Leslie and Alyssa, her then business partner. I really enjoyed the small business dedicated to making dogs happy. I also noticed how motivated Leslie was and grew to admire her vision. I told her to keep me in mind if she ever needed another staff member. She laughed, but agreed to do so. She thought I would not want to leave my corporate job, but I was ready to jump at the chance to make a change. When the time came that there was an opening, I applied and convinced Leslie and Alyssa to hire me. I joined the staff working on the daycare floor. Lots of dogs, lots of hair, lots of poop and pee…lots of cleaning and I simply loved my new job! I made friends with all of the dogs easily. Three dogs became my buddies on day one; Scooby a Great Dane, Tucker a JRT, and Sumo our only Swedish Valhund. Both Scooby and Tucker have crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Sumo and I still share a deep friendship and when we see each
other he wags exactly the same way he did the first day I met him. He is an old dog now, not in
the best of health, but he is still that wonderful friend who accepted me for his special daycare companion. He must have seen something in me that he valued. Maybe he took pity on me because I was pretty clueless about how to best work in the daycare. He followed me everywhere
I moved and smiled at me with knowing eyes. I was working with staff members that could easily call me “mom”! But to their credit they accepted me, helped me and encouraged me. I try to do that for the staff now.
It has been an adventure, I have learned much about people, dogs, cats, canine behavior, zoonotic diseases, salmon creeks in our neighborhood and the challenges of owning a small business in a big city. Each day I come to work it remains an adventure. Great Dog is no longer a puppy; it has grown into a BIG dog, now a business with over 30 employees. When I started here I was employee #8. In future posts I will share some stories about other dogs, why I became motivated to learn all that I could about canine behavior and training and more importantly how much I admire the remarkable species we call “our best friends”. I believe that dogs are simply the most amazing animals on the face of the earth. More to come…
-Judith Anderson-Wright MA CPDT KA