Rocky’s Viewpoint

Rockys Viewpoint

A blog for people who treat their dogs better than family

The Pup That Changed Me

Today is this little nugget’s 4-year ‘Gotcha Day.’

Ok, I lied– he’s a BIG nugget. But I love him with all of my heart and he changed my life in so many ways.  As I sit here and look at the picture that captured my heart, I can’t help but think about the changes since I said yes to being a dog mom.  I am a dog lover and grew up with always having at least one family dog, but Hiro (pronounced Hero) is the first dog I have had as an adult.  


A little bit of background…

Before bringing Hiro home, my last dog was Jaydee and I took her home from the pound when I was a senior in high school.  She lived to be about 12 years old, but she stayed with my dad when I decided to move out after high school.  When I met my husband and got married, we decided on cats because of our work schedules.  Cats are easier to manage when you have a hectic schedule.  For over a decade, we were cat people, and still are. Missy and Tigga are 15 and 17 years old.  They cats do not love that we are now dog people. But that’s a story for another time.  

The pup that changed meThe day this picture was sent to me is a day I’ll never forget. I got a text from my dad and it read “know anybody that wants a 6-month-old puppy?”  I immediately showed my husband and said: “look at this cute puppy.” Staying true to the same objections he always uses when I ask for a puppy,  my husband went directly into the list of reasons we can’t have a dog:
But, this time…I pre-prepared some counter objections.  One of the reasons he always said NO is that we had carpet all through the house and we had no yard.  Our house now has tile and while we still don’t have a yard, we live in a community with not one, not two, but THREE dog parks!  And…it was exactly eight days before our anniversary.
I gave him my counter objections and threw in the bonus that this could be an anniversary present.  He still said no, at which point I said “Let’s just go meet him. Maybe he’ll be a jerk, and then that’s it.”  To my shock, hubby agreed!  I called the family that was looking to rehome this handsome boy and set up a meeting to go the next morning.  
On the drive to meet him, I was so excited, I felt like I was bouncing in the seat. I just knew this dog was going to come home with us. When we got there, the guy started telling us about Hiro, his history, etc. Hiro was a Christmas present for their daughter, but she ended up being highly allergic, so he was living in their garage.  He said that he would give us all of his paperwork, his toys, crate, etc. He then started to ask “so do you think you want…” My husband cut him off and exclaimed “YES.”  I couldn’t believe what I had just heard.  My husband said yes to a dog!  We were taking home a puppy!  I had so many emotions going on at that moment, but mostly I was happy.  And excited.  And smitten

The journey to crazy dog mom…

Within days, I crossed a line that I knew I could never uncross.  I spent way too much money at the pet store and bought all the things.  All of them.  I set up babysitting with my parents for him while we were at work.  A new phone was necessary because I clearly didn’t have enough storage for all the dog pics I envisioned.  BarkBox happened without question.  A few months later, I started looking into Doggie Daycare in Orlando for him. So that was it…I crossed the “crazy dog mom” line and I have never looked back.  About a year later, I start to think that maybe Hiro needs a brother- and that’s when we brought home 8-week-old Ghost.  But that, too, is a story for another time.  
I say that Hiro changed my life- he really did.  In many ways.  I do not have children, so of course, he and Ghost are my puppy children.  To some people, it’s not the same thing- but to me and many others, it absolutely is.  And don’t try to convince us otherwise. In a way, he gave me a sense of purpose. To be clear- I had purpose, but purpose attached to a wet nose and sloppy dog kisses is on a whole other level! 
I now appreciate things more and learned to live in the moment.  I mean, if a dog can stop and smell a single blade of grass for 23 minutes, why can’t I stop and take a moment to enjoy little things in my day?  Hiro and Ghost also taught me how to let the little stuff go.  Accident on the floor?  It happens. Remote control eaten?  As long as it all comes out, no big deal.  Yoga mat destroyed?  It’s ok, I needed a new one anyway.  Hubby’s mom is coming over unexpectedly?  Normally, that sent me into a cleaning frenzy!  Now I’m like “oh well, I have dogs.”  
But it’s not just  the title of “dog mom” and my newfound zen that changed when my pups came into my life.  It’s so much more than that.  Hiro kicked off a series of events and a thought process that literally altered the course of my life.  But, actually…that is also a lie.  Or at least just a partial truth.  My father sent me the text with Hiro’s picture, so he started the change.  Hiro’s never-ending love, soulful gaze and abundant heart created such a deep love inside of me that I had a paradigm shift.  

The Paradigm Shift that led me to own a dog boarding business

So, what is the life-changing shift that happened?  After a few months of being a dog mom, something lit up inside of me.  I knew that I was going to have my own dog daycare/boarding business.  The how or when didn’t matter yet- I knew in the pit of my soul that it was going to happen.  Think that’s extreme?  It really isn’t, once I explain where the idea came from.  From the age of 5, I had always wanted to have my own business.  I was the kid with the lemonade stand.  The one who sold candy out of their backpack in high school. Serial network marketing is a thing and I did it well- from Avon to nutrition to jewelry.  I had a resume writing business.   
All of these things took place alongside working my full-time job, but I always had a fire burning inside of me to do my own thing and get out of cubicle life.  But, I also had a terrible fear of not having a paycheck, so it always just seemed like a dream.  I became a certified yoga teacher about 6 years ago, and I gave some serious consideration to opening a yoga studio when that happened.  But the fear of not having a paycheck wins again.  
So, when the notion came to me of having a dog business, I casually dismissed it.  But it kept coming back.  And each time it came back, it grew stronger and stronger.  It consumed my thoughts.  I knew that my purpose was to serve other dog parents who loved their dogs as much as I loved mine.  So, I started researching the business and gathering facts.  At the same time, I was also becoming that granola-loving dog mom that wanted to do everything as natural as possible for my boys. 
So, I started researching and sharing information that I found of value so that other dog moms and dads could benefit.  Like any good dog mom, I started an Instagram for my dogs and decided that I was going to turn that into a blog.  I also decided to start doing pet photography.  So there was my plan…pet photography and a blog.  I figured that I could do this for about five years, learn as much as I could, and that by the time I was ready (i.e., had “enough” money,) to open a dog daycare business, I would have this HUGE following and my business would be booming from the start!  
This, of course, is just the high-level plan, with a little bit of big dreaming.  I started taking photography classes, did some branding work with a friend, built a beautiful website, and started actually making a business plan.  In July 2017, I was working on my business plan and wanted to put some numbers to the plan.  I thought if I had an idea of what it would cost to buy an existing business, I would have a good idea of what I needed to have at the end of my five years.  So, I decided to google “Orlando Dog Daycare for sale.”  Rocky’s Retreat came up, but with very limited information.  Just a couple of pictures and some contact info for the broker.  It looked decent, so I decided to contact the broker.  At this point, I did not even know the name of the business. 
I was also not intending to buy anything- I just wanted information.  The broker contacts me the next day and tells me that I need to sign a non-disclosure agreement since it wasn’t public information that the business is for sale. Being in the business world for many years and reading hundreds of contracts and agreements gave me a good comfort level to sign the NDA.  When the information came back to me and I saw that the business name was Rocky’s Retreat, I knew instantaneously that this was meant to be. 

But HOW?

How did I know this?  My father passed away in March 2017.  His dog’s name was Rocky. Rocky was a really old pup, but he kept my dad company in the final stages of his dementia.  Sadly, my dad’s faithful companion passed just after my father did.  When I learned that the business I found was named Rocky’s Retreat, I just knew it was destiny. He brought this to me. Hiro brought this to me. 
My father started it when he sent me the picture of Hiro four years ago, and Hiro finished it when he turned me into a crazy dog mom who wanted absolutely nothing but the best for her dog.  Just under four months later, we closed on the sale of Rocky’s Retreat.  The previous owners were amazing partners and shared their knowledge with me as we transitioned.  
I had no idea that when I said yes to being a dog mom and crossed the crazy dog mom line that I would end up owning a business that offered Orlando Doggie Daycare, Orlando Dog Boarding, Canine Hydrotherapy and Pup Pics in Orlando.  Sometimes I just stare at my beautiful puppy children and ask myself if it’s real.  It is, in fact, real, and I have so much joy every day- not just from taking care of and playing with the pups, but from giving dog parents ease of mind and comfort knowing that their puppy children are in great hands.  
I understand what it’s like for your dogs to be your everything and for you to want them to be happy. That mom guilt feeling when leaving your dogs?  Me too.  Especially when they look at me with sad eyes.  I know what it’s like to want to keep them in great health to the point that you actually cook for them and try all kinds of natural things you find and read about.  And, because I get all of that, I will do everything in my power to give the pups that come to us at Rocky’s Retreat for boarding, daycare, hydrotherapy and pup pics the absolute best experience possible.  It’s what I want for my dogs, and will give nothing less to your dogs.