EDUCATION: Bachelor of science in occupational therapy at St. Catherine's College, St. Paul, Minn.

FIRST JOB: Corn detasseling on the farms in Minnesota.

WORST JOB: Receptionist, which required me to sit still in one place and answer five phone lines, which I was not very good at.

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP? A firefighter and paramedic.

HOW DID YOU END UP OWNING FURRY FARM? Summer of 2001 a family member died, requiring me to board my dogs. It was August and there were no vacancies at the local dog boarding facilities, so I took the dogs with me back to Minnesota for the funeral. On the long drive back to Virginia, I had the inspiration of going from health care to pet care, where I could offer home-style pet care to people during times of work, vacation, sickness and even tragedy.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST DECISION YOU'RE WRESTLING WITH NOW? Striking a balance between my business and family needs is my biggest challenge. Fortunately, the staff at Furry Farm are unbelievably dedicated and compassionate in the care of the dogs. This allows me to meet my personal and family needs while still owning a business. I trust the staff with my dogs and my business when I am on vacation, and they do an excellent job. The staff is gold to me. I could not do this without them.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WOULD CHANGE ABOUT YOUR JOB? Wish I did not have to pay so much in paytoll taxes so I could increase the staff salaries while keeping customer cost reasonable to the average hardworking person. On the other hand, paying taxes is a small price to pay for living in a free country where even a simple lady can open a business.

WHO WAS AND IS YOUR HERO? The works of Mother Teresa were heroic. The fact that one person can blaze a trail, lead a team and replace pain with joy gives me perspective.

WHO WAS YOUR MENTOR AND WHAT WAS THE BEST ADVICE THAT PERSON GAVE YOU? My parents are my mentors. My mother's enthusiasm for learning was contagious. Whether we were planting a new garden, canning tomatoes or taking a road trip, she taught me to enjoy the process just as much as the result. My father led by steadfast example, encouraging me to pursue my dreams but with my feet firmly planted on the ground. Best advice was from my parents which was to "be grateful, be gracious, and share."

WHAT ARE THE BEST LOCAL RESOURCES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES SEEKING ASSISTANCE IN GETTING STARTED OR EXPANDING? Library, bookstore, other small business owners, the Internet, and a good accountant.

HAVE YOU EVER WORKED WITH A NOTABLE PERSON OR CELEBRITY? IF SO, WHO? I have never worked with a celebrity or famous person. Some of my customers are pretty remarkable, for example the Marine whose dog I took care of while he deployed overseas or the woman who would painstakingly bring her dogs for day care so the dogs could run while she was receiving her chemotherapy.

WHAT BUSINESS BOOK DO YOU RECOMMEND THE MOST AND WHY? "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey. This book provides defined principles to live by in both business and personal life.

CAN YOU SHARE A WEIRD FUN FACT ABOUT YOUR PROFESSION THAT WE MIGHT NOT KNOW? Humans and dogs are very much alike. In social groups the dogs form friendships, rivalries, and even love triangles. It is a hoot, and it keeps the staff and me laughing.


1. Identify a community need that matches your passion and skill set.

2. Gravitate to those who will offer encouragement and mindful advice.

3. Love the work, and others will appreciate you because of that.

4. Keep your sense of humor.

5. Lead with compassion and follow with enthusiasm.

6. Own your mistakes and use them to make your business better.

7. Pay your successes forward to make your community better.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST LIKELY TO BE DOING WHEN NOT WORKING? Hiking, gardening, spending time with senior citizens, and being with my family are things I enjoy.

WHO WOULD YOU RATHER SPEND TIME WITH, WARREN BUFFETT, DORIS BUFFETT OR JIMMY BUFFETT? Doris Buffett because of her empowering work with women.


--As told to Craig Schulin

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