Meet Lily Reiche of My Dog Spot in Pasadena
Article in VOYAGELA magazine
Today we’d like to introduce you to Lily Reiche.
Lily, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
In 2007 I immigrated to the USA from Cape Town, South Africa.
In South Africa, I worked as an Art Theory and Popular Culture Lecturer at the University of Cape Town but on arriving in LA I knew I had to change my career path and immerse myself in something more tangible and altruistic.
I had always had an affinity to care for animals. My reputation as someone who cares deeply for and understands animals came about through caring for my own pet who happened to be paralyzed. We were often out and about as I worked on helping her become more mobile and she became very popular in the neighborhood. Word spread and people soon began asking me to take care of their pets.
The actual seed for the underlying philosophy that makes up my business began however, when I was on a pet sit and introduced to a dog exhibiting fear reactivity. The dog was ultimately put down for lunging and making contact but I knew in working with that dog and being subject to the misunderstanding and miscommunication between the dog and its owners, that I was going to dedicate my life to educating pet parents on how to understand and communicate effectively with their companion animals.
I started My Dog Spot with the purpose of taking this idea and bringing it to as many dogs and pet parents as possible. What better way to spread education than through group activities and every day walks. I train all my walkers to use the same positive reinforcement methods that make up my philosophy and we use this learning and approach every time we walk one of our dogs.
We coach clients through one-on-one consultations but also share knowledge and techniques through every day walk notes, comments, suggestions and building long term relationships with clients and their pets.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Of course running any business is challenging! Apart from the usual everyday business struggles such as finding employees that hold up to my very rigid standards and not spending this year’s marketing budget in the first month, the biggest challenge I face is overcoming ‘popular’ training theories that have been touted by “traditional”, correction-based trainers for years.
Positive Reinforcement, punishment-free training relies on a two-way communication between a dog and its owner. Outdated notions such as dominance theory and pack mentality still hold a very deep-rooted place in many dog owners’ understanding of what it means to own a dog. Teaching a different way of thinking and having a client be open to a positive reinforcement philosophy is often my biggest challenge. Traditional training produces quick results whereas Positive Reinforcement Training requires the desire to build a relationship, have dedication, and takes long term commitment.
Please tell us about My Dog Spot.
My Dog Spot is a team of dog lovers that are passionate about the health and happiness of pet dogs. We build long lasting, relationships with pets and their owners and dedicate every day to enriching the lives of our pet clients through positive reinforcement.
It is our philosophy that when you sign up at My Dog Spot for a walk, adventure or training you are joining a team of like-minded people that will pull together to keep your dog happy, healthy and well-balanced.
We offer private one on one dog walks for the less social, group walks and outings for those that need a little time with friends, nature hikes for the more energetic that need to get out and stretch their legs, play groups for those who need a little guidance with socialization, urban sledding for those that should really be living in more northern climates and various training options for those that need some structure in their lives.
Our training options include sessions on how to get your dog to walk on a loose leash, a Puppy Foundation Course for those with a new fluffy family member and basic behavioral modification sessions for pups and owners that are stressed out and need some guidance.
Without doubt our Positive Reinforcement approach and desire to form long lasting relationships with BOTH clients and dogs sets us apart from our fellow dog walkers. We are not an ‘uber’ for dog walkers. We are personalized and pay special, individual attention to each and every one of our clients.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Just about everything!
I would out-source a lot more if I could do things over again. Having professionals on board do a specific job may be expensive and overwhelming but it’s far less costly that trying to do everything wrong by yourself.
Most importantly thought, the lesson I keep having to impart to myself is to spend more time with people than trying to learn everything.