Just the thought of letting a pack of dogs loose in the woods, leading the pups through forests, fields, and trails, and then returning them all safely to their homes at the the end of the day seems like a nearly impossible task to us. But not for Vermont Dog Pack - and there are a whole lot of happy Vermont canines to prove it.
Rhonda Bilodeau founded Vermont Dog Pack as a dog-sitting service “without boundaries.” She specializes in managing dog-to-dog aggression and getting dogs off leash reliable, all the while allowing the dogs to get plenty of exercise. As her clientele grew, so did her services. She boards and trains dogs who need more one-on-one attention, and works closely with owners to get them confident communicating with their pets. Because, as she puts it, “That’s why a lot of trainers fail. They’re good with dogs, but they can’t pass that on to their clients.” We sat down with her to ask about starting and owning a business in Vermont:
1. What experience, moment, or thought inspired you to start Vermont Dog Pack?
Oh, man. Almost every trainer talks about this (and we’re almost embarrassed by it), but I was influenced by Cesar Milan. I get inspired by him because of his energy and how he can communicate with dogs. I remember seeing him on Oprah and thinking, “Wow, that is what dog training can be like?!” It was a lot less mechanical and a lot more instinctual. It was about energy and body language; it was the art of training. It wasn’t all science-based, and that’s not to say there isn’t science behind his or my own work, there’s a lot, but there’s more hands-on work, and it isn’t always by the book. I am always reading the dog and trying to figure out what it’s communicating. Training isn’t always about what the science says, it’s about figuring out what is working for that dog right now. Being able to trust your instincts is always best.
2. Share a moment in your working day that you love.
I really love working with people and helping people with their problems. I think that’s probably the biggest reason why my business works; I will do whatever it takes to fix a problem, I will go out and get more education to help my clients. They have to trust you can and will help them.
3. Why Vermont?
Living in Vermont builds a lot of character. You’ve got to be pretty hardy to live here, and that mentality is really good for business - the wherewithal, understanding how to get through hardships, how to push through the difficult times, and then how to relax. You have learn how to be comfortable when you’re uncomfortable and to use down moments to their greatest potential.
4. What’s a local business that inspires you?
I like when people are extremely original and paving their own path. Right now, that would probably be Taraleigh Weathers. She used to own Healthy Hippy Magazine and now she’s into a bunch of stuff. She is endlessly interesting and inspiring. She finds what she loves to do and figures out a way to make a living doing it. I think people would be a lot happier if they were doing the same thing. If you love something, something naturally good will come out of it because you’re pouring yourself into it.
5. Cheetos? Vermont Cheddar? What fuels your work?
My partner, Mateo, usually does the lunchtime cooking . He makes these warm quinoa bowls with kale, cucumbers, sprouts, carrots, and and tons of Annie’s Green Goddess dressing. And then he’ll saute tempeh in coconut oil to go on top, too. So good.