have been living in North Carolina since I was two and a half and absolutely love the state. I grew up in the Chapel Hill/Durham area but have lived in Raleigh for the last six years. Growing up I loved animals and begged my parents for a dog. I asked for one every Christmas and every birthday but my brother had terrible allergies and my parents were not sure it was a good idea. Finally, after much research they settled on a Kerry Blue Terrier which is a rare breed but one of the most hypoallergenic. They surprised us with Merlin when I was 8 and it was the best day of my whole childhood. We took training very seriously. I went to every class and soon Merlin and I had a bond that could not be broken. He slept in my room and calmed me down when I had nightmares. I practiced every school presentation in front of him and he would sit and listen attentively. He helped me grow confidence and was my very best friend. Sadly, at eleven he developed cancer. I was 20 at the time and was completely devastated. There was a hole in my heart that I thought would never heal. I vowed if I ever had another dog I would do everything I could to have them live longer.
I met my now husband around that time. He had adopted a cat, Rikka, a few months before. She is a beautiful tortoise shell girl. I had very little knowledge of cats and it took quite a long time for her and I to find our own special bond. As wonderful as she was, I knew I would never fully heal from Merlin's passing without a dog. I did months of research. I needed a hypoallergenic dog so he would be allowed in my parents' and brothers' house. I also needed a dog suitable for an apartment but I also wanted a sturdy, intelligent, and non-yappy dog. I settled on the Bichon Frise, a small but sturdy, smart, and compassionate dog. I got Casper at ten weeks and within a month we were so attached to each other I could start off-leash training. He wanted to be near me all the time. He is a wonderful dog. He is happy going on long walks and is just as content cuddling all day. He loved my husband immediately (he has good taste) and we introduced him to Rikka when he was two months old. They immediately took to one another and have lived happily as brother and sister since then. They play, chase, and he lays stoically while she grooms him. He taught her how to do puzzles and how to beg for treats. They insisted on eating next to each other, sharing a water bowl and getting their treats at the same time
Around the time Casper was two terrible allergies developed. He licked all the hair off of his elbows. Sometimes it got so bad he licked himself until he bled. We went to the vet constantly and tried our best to eliminate food allergies. Out of pure desperation I finally agreed to the prescription diet the vet had been pushing for a long time.
It was the worst decision I ever made for him. I tried the expensive prescription diet for around seven months and he deteriorated rapidly. He was not the same happy boy he used to be. He hated the food and would somedays refuse to eat. He was lethargic, depressed, and wanted to lay in the dark under the bed instead of being with his family. The itching and licking never stopped. I told the vet everything and they said he needed an antidepressant.
That was my breaking point. I thanked the vet for their service over the years, left and never went back. I was never going to let a vet tell me what was best for my dog's nutrition ever again. I began extensive research, read several books, finally looked up the ingredients in the previous diet and was ashamed of myself. I became fascinated with the idea of a raw diet and made my first trip to Unleashed. Never before had I received such kindness, understanding and advice from a pet store. I bought some freeze-dried raw and give it to Casper that night. He gobbled it down and zoomed around the apartment for the first time in months. I was sold! He refused his kibble from that day on. I didn't have much money at the time and was still wary of all brands of dog food. More research. I began the complicated process of doing a home made raw diet. I scoured the exotic section of the grocery store and began a regular at the butcher's. I bought a scale to make sure his portions were correct and constantly checked and double checked I was giving him everything necessary for a complete diet. Once every other month, I went back to Unleashed and bought the pre made raw because I was so afraid I would mess something up doing it myself.
He was my boy again and we continued the training that he had no interest in during the dark days of the prescription diet. At four years he passed the Canine Good Citizen test, and the next year we began agility. We were hooked and after two years we have graduated to the advanced ability class. He will be seven soon and has the energy of a much younger dog.
I wanted the best for Rikka the cat as well. I tried everything but she would not eat the raw food though she did enjoy bone broth. During these years I struggled to find a career that fit me. I studied Psychology at UNC-Chapel Hill, tried multiple industries but I couldn't see myself doing any of them for the rest of my life. Then it hit me! If I worked at Unleashed I could share my passion about raw food with other pet owners and have the ability to afford the pre-made raw for Rikka. I began at the Stonehedge location in November of 2018.
It worked out better than I could have imagined. I learned absolutely everything I could about each company and learned to trust a dog food again. I finally felt comfortable enough to feed Casper pre made raw and began the process of switching Rikka. It took months but we found what worked for her and she started acting years younger. She played more, jumped higher, and was more affectionate with me than she had ever been.
Casper has environmental allergies as well as food and still occasionally has flares up. It means my research will always continue to find the very best holistic options.
Recently, I started to get the urge for human babies but knew it wasn't quite the right time yet. So my husband and I began talking about a kitten. Three days later a customer brought in a five week old kitten who was abandoned into the store. Within hours I knew she was ours. She made herself right at home and melted our hearts. She weighed 1.78 lbs and could fit in my hand. She is the most affection cat I've ever known. Rikka and Casper accepted her into the pack within a week. She can walk on a leash, although currently only in the direction she wants to go. She absolutely loves coming into the store and meeting customers.
Despite the struggles Casper and I have dealt with, it all lead me to the best company I have ever worked for, relentless passion to learn more, and I found not only the career I was searching for, but a vocation to improve the lives of dogs and cats.
In August of 2019 I accepted the position the position of Assistant Manager at the Crescent Commons location in Cary.