John Paul, "JP," was born and raised in rural Mechanicville, New York, north of Albany up the Hudson River. He grew up playing in the woods, biking to town, and being picked on by his older brother. It wasn't until he was nine years old that he got his first dog, Kaya, from a local shelter. An adorable shepherd mix puppy made a great playmate. But tragically, on little John Paul's tenth birthday, after only having Kaya a short while, poor Kaya was struck by a car after escaping the garage door. Not too much later, John Paul's uncle rescued a lab mix that had been left abandoned, tied to a tree in Florida. He flew the dog, Deacon, to New York to his new home. Deacon soon became accustomed to running through the fields, digging through the garbage, and enjoying the country life. So when it came time for John Paul and his family to move to North Carolina, a neighbor decided to keep Deacon in New York and let him have the life that he was so enjoying.
JP started 8th grade in Raleigh, NC at Carroll Middle School. Although homesick for his childhood friends, JP excelled in school and began making new friends. He got a job as soon as he was old enough, stocking shelves at a grocery store at age 14. When he was about 15, his family got a black lab puppy, but she, Jesse, bonded more with his mom than anyone else in the family. An animal lover at heart, JP picked up a "free kitten" one day and brought it home. Thinking his mom wouldn't let him keep it, he hid "Mr. Puddin" in his room for two weeks before she found out. When she did, she told him to find the cat a home, which he's still looking for today.
While attending Sanderson High School, JP worked at various restaurants, and while he had his fun, he knew it wasn't what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. Unsure of what he wanted to do, he decided not to attend college but to keep working. He spent a year in Wilmington, during which time he had a canine roomate named Sloan. At that time, Wilmington had a doggie beach, where the dogs could roam off-leash, and JP started to really enjoy having a dog (or at least sharing one.) But he still hadn't fully experienced that "best friend" bond with a canine.
That didn't come until moving to California. After living there a few months, the first time he and his girlfriend, Amy, had really lived together, he decided that they needed a puppy. When he went into that shelter in Pasadena and laid eyes on one particular puppy, it was love at first sight and his true canine connection was sparked. He had always liked his family dogs and had fun playing with them, but he truly loved his Benny. Those little soulful eyes changed his heart and his life forever. As he bounced from job to job in California, nothing satisfied him more than taking Benny to the dog park. But that didn't pay the rent, so, he got a job at a local pet store. He stocked the shelves and carried dog food to people's cars for them. And Benny got samples and treats consistently. His true love of canines was going full force, and he started dreaming of a day when he could open his own pet store. But, that wasn't in the books just yet.
After a year in LA, JP and Amy decided to move home where they could share their "baby" with their families and settle down closer to home. Needing a stable job, he went back to work for Goodyear, which he had left when he moved to CA. A true hard worker, JP moved up through the company quickly. He had started as a general technician in the shop, and moved up to sales before going to California. Once he was back he moved to sales manager, and eventually to Store Manager, running his own Just Tires. He successfully ran the Leesville location and then the Crabtree location. The pay was good but the hours were long and the job very demanding. Other store managers were getting sick from the strenuous labor and stress. JP was hardly ever home, and eventually decided that he wanted to do something else.
Meanwhile, Amy was running a flea market stand devoted to dogs, and wishing he could help more. When the little dog stand was invited to the NC State Fair, which to pull off successfully would mean that Amy needed help, JP took that as a sign that it was time to leave the corporate world of tires behind and dedicate himself to the little business called Unleashed. Once the fair was over and both he and Amy had no other employment (other than Amy doing some tutoring) there was no better time to push the business farther and begin looking at expansion. During that time, he and Amy attended the flea market every weekend despite rain, snow, wind, freezing cold, or blistering heat. They were always there for their growing base of loyal customers, with whom they made true connections to while helping them with their dogs. They worked on the website, and a business plan. JP had finally found something that he was truly passionate about that he never would have imagined only a few years prior. He was the true push behind a very cautious Amy. JP was never afraid of the risk of opening a big store in rocky economic times. There was no doubt that with their passion, drive, and dedication, Unleashed would be a huge success. Now he gets to spend every day with his three best friends, Benny, Vixen, and Amy. It's not the dog park, but it's pretty darn close.
Update October, 2011:
Since Unleashed was formed, owners Amy & JP have
gotten married and added another dog, Mr. Vixen, and 2 kittens, Wesley
& Buttercup to the family. We have also opened 2 "brick and mortar"
stores, with a third in the works for 2012. And to top it all off, in
January 2012, we are expecting our first human addition to the family, a