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.
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.
My Mission is for:
To Fulfill this Mission:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.