About Handful of Leashes / Heather

My name is Heather Garges, the owner here at Handful Of Leashes. I live on Winding Brook Farm in Pennsylvania and have an insatiable love for animals, the outdoors, and knowledge.

My Motivation

Just like many of you, I am a dog owner to my best friend. I have an Australian Shepherd / Blue Heeler mix named Stitch.

She has been with me since day one of Handful of Leashes (5 months before to be exact) and has remained one of my biggest motivators in constantly growing my business and services.

Update: As of January 20, 2024, my angel Stitchie was put to rest after a 2 week battle with a very quick and very aggressive cancer called Hermangiosarcoma.

She is still my motivation every single day ❤

My Mission Statement

My Mission is for:

  1. Every dog to live as great a life as hers
  2. Every owner to feel as bonded to their dog through the balance of care when you are away, physical activity when you are having a longer-than-usual work day, and training to bring your relationship with your pups to the next level.

To Fulfill this Mission:

  1. I Serve – I devote my time, talents, and resources to my mission and offer services to help care for and train man’s best friend
  2. I Inspire – I consistently grow my knowledge and share my teachings with open minded dog owners
  3. I Advocate – I keep the dog’s best interest in the forefront of my mind when working with him / her
  4. I Impact – I work towards the goal of fulfilling dogs as a species

Growing in This Mission Since 2014

To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business and your business in your heart.”

Thomas Watson Sr.
holding a goat in the feild

From Farm to Furry Friends

  • 2013 August – Quit Working on my Family Farm
  • 2013 September – Started Working in Doggie Daycares & Pet Stores
  • 2014 February – Adopted Stitch, my blue heeler / aussie mix

I worked on my family farm (milking cows, chucking hay, etc.) for many years and loved it, but needed to make room for my equal passion of household pets.

While in college, I started working in doggie daycares and pet stores to broaden my knowledge on socialization of dogs as well as the food, medicine, safety and fulfillment of dogs through food, products, and tools.

Stitch would come to my shifts at the doggie daycare with me. We quickly bonded over long days together and I knew then that this was my soul dog. It was about now that my love for training (relationship building with a dog) started!

playing fetch with 2 dogs outside

My First Clients

  • 2014 July – Started Dog Sitting
  • 2014 November – Attended a 4 Day Pet Boarding & Daycare Expo

I had 1 client in my first year of business: 2 dogs, 1 cat, and a roost full of chickens in New Hope, Pennsylvania.

I love sharing this story because so many young entrepreneurs (whether in the dog field or not) look at me and think, “I can’t run a successful business like that.” Yes, you can. Just have a passion, do what feels right, and the rest will come in perfect time.

The Pet Boarding & Daycare Expo I attended focused on dog communication, dog’s body language, daycare evaluations, safe socialization, and emotional fulfillment.

my graduation picture from delval


  • 2015 April – Attended Cesar Milan Live
  • 2015 May – Graduated from Bucks County Community College
  • 2017 May – Graduated from Delaware Valley University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Small Animal Science
  • 2017 September – Started Dog Training

The challenging, hands-on curriculum for my degree at DelVal included courses on Companion Animals, Introduction to Small Animal Management, Animal Behavior, Animal Training and Enrichment, Anatomy and Physiology, Reproduction of Small Animals, Introduction to Biotechnology, and Pathology of Diseases of Small Animals, and People and Animals.

Training and Enrichment was always my favorite field of study throughout my schooling (I even did my Senior Seminar on “How Humans Unknowingly Condition Their Dogs to Experience Anxiety”). Because of this, I started dog training, helping owners to better understand their dogs to aid in absolving problem behaviors.

Post-Graduation Growth

  • 2017 July – Became Kennel Manager at Robbye’s Gentle Groomers
  • 2018 January – Started Dog Walking
  • 2018 July – Became Doggie Daycare Manager at Robbye’s Gentle Groomers
  • 2018 September – Started Offering Pet Taxi Services

With the extra time I had available post-graduation I was able to open up my services to offer 1 hour visits / dog walking as well as taxi services for bringing dogs to and from daycare.

I was also able to grow my position within my job (twice), furthering my knowledge on sharing my education both with clients and my staff.

my dog stitch on my shoulders at my farm

Surviving a Global Pandemic

  • 2020 March – Covid-19 Pandemic / Quarantine Started
  • 2020 April – All Dog Sitting / Dog Walking Visits for the Entire Summer Cancelled
  • 2020 June – Training Took Over Due to the Influx of Puppies
  • 2020 September – Made an Instagram Account for the Business
  • 2020 December – Started Doing Virtual Training Lessons
  • 2021 February – Spent Days Off Creating my Website for Handful of Leashes
  • 2021 May – Quit my Job to Give My All to Handful of Leashes

I remained positive through this transitional period. I started working on new ventures (I created a personal development blog named “Handful of Heather”) to be sure I had something to fall back on and enjoy if the world was never the same.

Thankfully, while dog owners everywhere cancelled vacations, they chose to seek out help for their new additions to the family. Puppy training kept my mission for Handful of Leashes alive until other parts of the business became prevalent again.

First Year as a Full Time Entrepreneur

  • 2021 October – Made a TikTok Account for the Business
  • 2022 December – Started Creating Free Educational Graphics on Instagram
  • 2022 February – Started Working on my First Ever Digital Product (eBook In Progress)
  • 2022 April – Became a Part of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters
  • 2022 May – Marks 1 Full Year as a Full Time Entrepreneur (thus far 😊)

Changes for the Better

  • 2022 May – Moved Into The Apartment on the Farm (more space for my “Dog Sitting in Heather’s Home” clients)
  • 2022 December – One of my Training Client’s Stories About How Our Training Changed Her Life Got Chosen for a “Chicken Soup for Soul Book: Advice That Changed My Life” Book

I love having a larger space to continue to train and adore my girl Stitch. However, the real perk is being able to offer a more suitable location to care for your loved ones as well.

Thank you to all the owners who loved my services before and who will love them even more now with this move!

Featured, Nominated, Requested

  • 2023 March – The Story One of My Training Clients Wrote About Me & My Training was Published on Page 53 in the Book “Chicken Soup for Soul Book: Advice That Changed My Life”
  • 2023 April – Nominated as Runner Up for the Best Pet Trainer on the Bucks Happening List
  • 2023 April – Participated in Pet Fest & Was Asked to Be 1 of 3 Speakers at this Event

I always thought that the first book I would be in would be one I wrote but I can’t believe how fortunate I was to be featured in a collection of books I grew up on as a child “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” To hear this full story, click here.

Investing in my Business for Maximum Impact

2023 June – Invested $3k in “Business by Design” w/ my mentor James Wedmore to increase my business’ positive impact on dog lovers like you

2023 December – Went to a Live 3-Day Business Conference with 900+ Entrepreneurs in Irvine, California where I got to share a room with:

  • Lori Harder (Podcast Host to “Earn Your Happy,” Author, & Entrepreneur)
  • Michael B. Beckwith (Author, Visionary, Founder of “Agape International Spiritual Center,” & star in the book & movie “The Secret” by Rhonda Bryne)
  • Jasmine Star (Podcast Host to “The Jasmine Star Show,” Speaker, & Entrepreneur) 
  • Mel Abraham (Speaker, #1 Best Selling Author, & Founder of Business Breakthrough Academy)

The Hardest Month of My Life

  • Dec 17, 2024 – Stitchie baby turns 10 years old
  • Jan 2, 2024 – Brought Stitch to the vet for a cough & loss of appetite; they give me kennel cough meds
  • Jan 5, 2024 – Still not eating so I bring her to the vet & they find cancer that has metastasized to her lungs. Told she has a week or two left to live
  • Jan 6, 2024 – Booked a last minute photoshoot to make sure we have amazing photos with her before she goes
  • Jan 10, 2024 – Went to a separate vet for a 2nd opinion. Stitch gets 2 ultrasounds, bloodwork, a urine sample, and a fecal
  • Jan 11, 2024 – Find out Stitch has Hermangiosarcoma (one of the fastest & most aggressive dog cancer’s there is)
  • Jan 12, 2024 – Stitch started chemotherapy for a chance at a few more months (as opposed to weeks)
  • Jan 20, 2024 – Stitch became heaven’s newest angel 👼

New Beginnings

  • February 9, 2024 – We weren’t looking but we believe that Stitch sent us this 10 week old Blue Heeler / Sheltie mix
  • February 10, 2024 – We added Opal Valentine to our family
  • February 24, 20242 Week Update: Following my own advice I give to my clients, Opal is already fully potty trained (Never had a single accident), crate trained, and treadmill trained.
  • 2024 April – Nominated as Runner Up for the Best Pet Trainer on the Bucks Happening List (2nd Year in a Row)

Thank You For Supporting Me Through the Years ❤

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