FEATURE: For the Love of Dogs

by | Sep 29, 2020 | Feature Story, Sep/Oct 2020 | 0 comments

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They say that a dog is a man’s best friend, but that old saying is not entirely accurate. Dogs are loyal and reliable companions to anyone who shows them love and kindness. Some of us go a bit overboard in our passion for these furry, four-legged creatures, and there are even those who have dedicated their lives and careers to making dogs lives a little better. It is estimated that nearly 70% of all U.S. households own at least one dog. This creates a huge industry worth billions of dollars, and many opportunities for savvy, dog loving entrepreneurs. San Antonio isa very dog-friendly city, and there are some amazing women working very hard to protect and provide services for our beloved pooches.

 

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Rebecca Mayberry

Director of San Antonio Pets Alive

It’s a common sight in some areas of San Antonio to see stray dogs roaming the streets. Overpopulation is a real problem in our city and other cities throughout Texas. Sadly, many of these stray dogs, as well as those that are surrendered by their owners because they no longer want them or can no longer care for them, will be put down. The city’s Animal Care Services facility does not have the space to keep every dog they pick up. It is a grim reality in San Antonio. Still, organizations are working very hard to save these dogs’ lives, and San Antonio Pets Alive! is one of the premier organizations.

SAPA is the only animal rescue organization with a dedicated facility on the campus of the city’s municipal shelter. It’s here where tireless SAPA employees and volunteers monitor the capacity at Animal Care Services, and have the opportunity to pull dogs directly from the euthanasia list when the shelter is overcrowded.

At the helm of this amazing organization is Rebecca Mayberry. Rebecca transferred from Phoenix, where she was born and raised, just six years ago. She worked with the Petco Foundation and was also very active with Boxer Love Rescue in Phoenix. Her career, as well as her love for animals, led her to become involved with SAPA almost three years ago. She became the Executive Director in 2018.

SAPA began its mission in 2011 with a few animal lovers and limited resources and has since grown into a dynamic organization that has saved over 53,000 lives since its inception. The organization has seen its share of ups and downs, but under Mayberry’s leadership, SAPA has grown into one of the most successful rescue groups in town. Relying solely on donations from the community and grants from animal-loving foundations, San Antonio Pets Alive! can pull nearly 5,500 dogs and cats from “death row” per year. It is a testament to their staff’s dedication, amazing foster families, hard-working board members, and their efforts to educate the community about the city’s overpopulation problem.

Rebecca states, “It takes a servant’s heart to make a difference in animals’ lives. San Antonio Pets Alive! is in the trenches, and we operate without the luxury of a large shelter facility. We rely on our partnerships and the public.”

One of the most significant accomplishments for Mayberry has been to expand the San Antonio

Pets Alive! foster program. There are currently around 800 foster families dedicated to taking in dogs and cats to care for them and actively work toward getting them adopted. Mayberry would like to see this number grow to 1,000 in the coming years, and wants the public to understand that there are many different ways to get involved.

“We often need volunteers to help us transport animals between our facility at Animal Control, off Highway 151 to our medical facility, on Marbach Road. We also need people to help with picking up and delivering supplies, people to walk the dogs and give them a chance to get out of the kennels for a little while, as well as volunteers to make blankets and slip lead leashes.”

As a city, San Antonio has a long way to go in order for us to be considered a “no-kill” city, but with San Antonio Pets Alive! and the tireless devotion and leadership of Rebecca Mayberry, we are headed in the right direction. Monetary donations to the organization are most needed right now, and all the information can be found at www.sanantoniopetsalive.org.

 

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Christie Gonzales

General Manager of Lucy’s Doggy Daycare & Spa

Most of us never think that our very first job as a teenager will turn into a life-long calling or career, but for Christie Gonzales, General Manager for Lucy’s Doggy Daycare and Spa, that is exactly how things turned out.

Christie is an outgoing and enthusiastic lady whose eyes light up when she talks about her love for dogs. She began her career at Lucy’s when she was just 16 years old at their original location off Thousand Oaks Drive. She continued to work for the company throughout high school and college, as the company grew. She experienced all aspects of what it takes to run a boarding kennel, grooming salon, and doggy daycare. Lucy’s now has three locations in San Antonio and continues to expand its concept with partners like Traveling Tails Veterinary Clinics.

A graduate of McArthur High School, Christie earned her degree in Education from U.T.S.A. She recently returned to become the General Manager of Lucy’s after a few years teaching in the public school system, and feels that her calling is to provide the best care for our four-legged friends and their owners.

The original Lucy was the beloved pup of Lucy’s owner, Max Golman, who established Lucy’s Doggy Daycare & Spa in 2005 with the mission to become the premier daycare, boarding, and grooming facility in town. Lucy has since crossed over the rainbow bridge, but her legacy remains strong.

Christie’s enthusiasm shows when she proudly shows off their newest facility on Loop 1604 and Vance Jackson. It is a large facility with self-serve dog washing stations for those who don’t want to have the hassle of cleaning up the bathroom after bathing a particularly dirty dog. For owners who would rather have somebody else do the dirty work, Lucy’s offers affordable dog grooming services by highly trained and experienced groomers. All grooming and bath appointments include a nail trim, ear cleaning, and a blow-dry. For those truly pampered pooches, Lucy’s also offers shed reduction treatments, teeth brushing, therapeutic massages, and facial scrubs.

Lucy’s has become most popular, however, for their daycare services. It’s not uncommon for the 1604 location to doggy-sit for nearly 100 dogs per day. Christie states, “When an owner drops their baby off for doggy daycare, they become our babies for the day, and we love on them and care for them as if they are our own.” Lucy’s even specializes in nervous dogs, working with them to help them become more social and comfortable being around other dogs. For those pups that would still prefer to maintain their distance, Lucy’s also features solo dog yards.

The focus at Lucy’s, which is evident in each of their employees, is customer service at its highest level and safety. Each of the doggy daycare and boarding team members is trained to keep a close eye on the play sessions and recognize any aggressive behavior symptoms or conflicts. Big dogs and little dogs are segregated, and the play yards feature splash pools, misters, pup-friendly playground equipment, and toys. Each full-day visitor has up to seven hours of pure playtime, and the facilities feature live webcams so that you can log-in to watch your baby in action. Your pup is guaranteed to be as tired as you are after a long day.

Christie describes the atmosphere at Lucy’s as being very family-oriented. She says, “With our three locations and the business still growing, Lucy’s might seem like a big company, but we strive to create an environment for our guests that feels like home.” Everyone you encounter at Lucy’s is amiable and outgoing, but who wouldn’t be if you got to play with puppies all day long.

 

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Deena & Mandy Masson

Owners of Greener Grooming

Everyone knows the importance of eating a healthy and balanced diet, even if we don’t always follow the advice of medical professionals and experts. We know that our health and well-being is contingent on what we put into our bodies, and the same holds for our four-legged friends, whether we want to believe it or not. There is a lot of genuinely unhealthy pet food on the market today, and one San Antonio business is on a mission to educate dog owners on the best ways to keep our dogs healthy and active for many years.

Deena and Mandy Masson are two dynamic ladies that own Greener Grooming in Universal City. They opened their boutique and salon in 2008 at the corner of Kitty Hawk and Pat Booker Road, and they have created quite a following of loyal customers with their wealth of knowledge about pet health.

It all started when Deena was battling her own health issues. She needed to change her diet drastically to only natural foods with no chemicals or toxins. She was raised as an “Army kid” and moved around a lot, eventually settling in San Antonio and attending Clemmons High School. With close monitoring of her diet and taking note of what made her feel healthy and what didn’t, Deena was able to control her symptoms and live an active and comfortable life. She then transferred what she learned about her health and decided to focus her knowledge on how these same ideas could help her dogs, and the dogs she saw as a grooming specialist, live healthier lives. She says, “If changing my diet can make this kind of change in my health, then I’m going to treat my dogs like I treat myself, and make sure that they are getting the healthiest food available.

Deena becomes very passionate when she talks about the importance of feeding dogs a healthy and holistic diet. She says that processed kibble is not a natural food for a dog. It doesn’t exist in nature, and it is causing so many health problems in our pets.

Deena and Mandy, a San Antonio native and a graduate of Jefferson High School, continue to work with raw food specialists and experts in animal nutrition to carry the highest quality products to bring to their customers. They tell us that it is important to change your dog’s diet as they age, just like it is for humans. Different proteins offer different nutritional benefits at various stages in their lives. It’s also important to add fruits and vegetables to their diets once in a while. Deena stresses, “Dogs cannot process plant fiber. It does not break down well in their systems, but it can definitely offer significant health benefits when puréed and added to a healthy carnivore diet.”

The processed kibble made from grain fillers and meat by-products is the main reason that we see such an increase in dog diseases, like pancreatitis. By just adding puréed blueberries and spinach to your dog’s diet, you are providing enzymes that the pancreas doesn’t create, which helps break down the processed ingredients found in commercial kibble. Deena also emphasizes that goat’s milk is one of the best things that you can mix in with your dog’s food, as it is full of immunity boosting elements and probiotics that aid in digestion.

She says, “We get to know the owner and the dog before recommending a change, and usually we recommend adding nutritional supplements to their diets, rather than a complete dietary overhaul.” Any small change that you can make to help your dog be healthier will be a positive change and help your dog live a longer and happier life.

Any dog owner will tell you that life with a four-legged friend is a richer life. Unlike cats, dogs offer unconditional and attitude-free love when they are loved in return. They rely on us for everything, and in return, they give us companionship, comfort, and happiness. If you are a dog lover, then you understand this. If you have never experienced a dog’s love, then maybe it’s time to roll around on the floor with one, or even a litter of puppies, and discover one of heaven’s greatest gifts to humankind.

 

BY MEREDITH KAY

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JASON ROBERTS

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