Ever since I was a child, there have been two major constants in my life: my obsession with animals—especially dogs—and my love for helping other people. It is because of these two things that aMANda’S BEST FRIEND is in existence, but as most people know, every final destination is arrived upon after a journey.
I was one of those little kids that always walked around with a stuffed animal in tow. It began with a Pound Puppy (yes, I’m an 80’s baby), but after losing that in a hotel room sheet change, Fudgy, the stuffed dog, became my staple comfort buddy. He went everywhere with me and I dreamt of the day I would have a “real” pet.
My family went through goldfish, hermit crabs, and one cat before finally getting us a dog: Beau, a beautiful golden retriever. He quickly became my best friend! Beau would let me put crayons in his paws to color with me; he ate the veggies I snuck off the table in order to earn dessert; he watched “Fluppy Dogs” (again, 80’s—if you haven’t seen it, I highly encourage a YouTube search) a million times with me, and he loved Fudgy as much as I did, carrying him around like his own puppy. It was because of this friendship that my deep love for animals began.
I always knew I wanted to take care of animals, and as I got older, I began helping neighbors with their pets and houses while they were away (little did I know that one day this would be my calling!). I volunteered at a veterinarian hospital for a summer, and I did a month-long internship with a veterinarian as a senior project to graduate from high school.
Right before my freshman year at NC State University, both of my parents were diagnosed with cancer. Being the hard-headed individual I am, I tried to stay on track with majoring in biochemistry and help with their treatments and care. It didn’t take long to realize this was unsustainable, and I switched my major to English to be able to work remotely and get out of college in a reasonable amount of time.
My first couple full-time jobs in banking and politics left me unfulfilled and empty. They also took a toll on time with my own labradoodle, Sadie. As I hurried to and fro in my busy professional life, I knew there needed to be a better solution for people who loved their animals and careers, I just couldn’t find it.
My mom’s health continued to decline as her cancer returned and her treatments took far longer than expected. As her primary care taker, I lived with her in an isolation apartment and resigned from my job to nurse her back to health. Sadie was shuffled from friend’s house to friend’s house, re-emphasizing the need for more pet care options in Raleigh.
As I spent that time with my mom, I realized the fragility of life and made a vow to not spend another day of my life unhappy in politics. I thought back to my childhood when the neighbors would pay me to take care of their animals and realized the families I had babysat for in Raleigh were doing the same. I drew up a one-page business plan, and when my mom’s health started to improve, I pitched the idea to eight families. They loved the idea and started to tell their family, friends, and neighbors.
Fast forward seven years and 750 families and here we are! This has been the greatest adventure of my life. I love every animal as if they are my own, holding all of my employees to the same core values I keep near and dear to my heart. I am an entrepreneur. I am a female business owner. I am following my heart and living my passion. It isn’t always easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Hard work pays off. Leaps of faith are the scariest, but the most rewarding. And just like raising a child, starting a business takes a village. Dreams really do come true, so always reach for the stars and know one day it will all make sense!