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Meet Emily Neish of Salty Dogs of Cape Ann in Gloucester

Today we’d like to introduce you to Emily Neish.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Caring for others seemed to come naturally to me at an early age, moving from dolls, to babies and then animals. After graduating from university in Canada, I went to Los Angeles to “find myself”, as my degree in Anthropology and Communications left me hanging on what my next steps were. My childhood dog, Tara, had just passed away and the loss weighed heavily on my heart. Even at the age of 23, it was one of my first experiences with death. I spent a lot of time alone while in LA – I wandered various parts of the city, experienced the tourist attractions, the beaches, the parks, the nightlife and one day it just hit me: Veterinary Nurse. I wasn’t even sure I knew what that would entail, but it seemed to resonate with such a delight and passion that I had to pursue it. During the epiphany, I had been contacted by the game show “Hollywood Squares” to audition. I nailed it and became a contestant! It was a surreal experience where I won $9000 which, at 23, seemed like a Powerball jackpot! It was enough to travel to Greece and Egypt and then land myself back in Toronto, enrolled in the Animal Care program at Sheridan Community College.

I loved every minute of it, found my new dog (a Chihuahua/Italian Greyhound mix named Amber), and graduated first in my class. But then what?! I vacillated through the summer, trying to figure out what direction to take my newfound knowledge in…and then another universal interjection: my grandmother had Parkinson’s disease which was progressing, and she needed my help. I was excited to move to Massachusetts and care for her in whatever way I could – she was one of my very best friends, after all. I figured I would apply for a part-time job to get me started and, through a random internet search, I found the MSPCA. They called me, and I had my first job at a veterinary hospital – WOW! Who knew that it was the largest in the world?? Over the next 12 years, I soaked up every piece of information that I could about veterinary medicine and animal care. I moved from assistant, to nurse, to critical care nurse, to anesthetist, to supervisor. I also started working with the New England Pet Hospice doing home care for people struggling with their ill and aging pets at home. This woke something up in me…the hospital environment was so stressful and crazy…home care seemed like such a special way to help people and their pets. In 2016, I chose Gloucester so that I could live by the ocean. I left the MSPCA and started my own business, Salty Dogs of Cape Ann. I provide services ranging from puppy and kitten care to end of life and senior care, and everything in between. I spend a lot of time out in nature walking dogs every day and I couldn’t think of a better way to make a living.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
As a veterinary professional, the struggles are many. The ethical issues, the emotional issues, the financial issues (as an animal anesthetist, I made about 1/4 to 1/3 of what my human counterpart would make – yet had more responsibility). My challenges were always with myself – am I doing enough? Can I help more? Can I work more? Can I take in another animal? The last few years at the MSPCA were very overwhelming as these questions kept building and weighing more heavily on me, as if they were stacking up and pressing down the emotion that came before. Being outside and getting exercise every day has alleviated so many of those anxieties. I wouldn’t have changed my hospital experience for the world, but I am so much happier where I am now.

Salty Dogs of Cape Ann – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
My official name is Salty Dogs Adventures, LLC, but I go by Salty Dogs of Cape Ann. Given my background, I am blessed to be able to specialize in many areas. I intended to be available for medical visits, primarily, since Cape Ann is in an area that is over 45 minutes’ drive away from the nearest emergency veterinary hospital. Although some of my clients use my skills in this way, the bulk of my clients are folks who need a trustworthy caretaker for their pets when they are unable due to work requirements, vacation, illness, or otherwise. I have dogs and cats of all ages on my client roster and my goal is to make the experience for both client and pet as smooth as possible. I love taking the dogs on grand adventures, I spent lots of time playing with the cats, and I send photos/videos and funny little updates to the pet parents. I pride myself on great communication in addition to the quality care and experience that I bring to their pet care. All my clients use me as a sounding board for their pet questions, whether medical or otherwise, and I am more than happy to oblige! I have two fabulous dog walking assistants, Sheryl and Paul, who have followed my lead. They have a great time with the dogs and the clients trust them as much as they do me. We have positioned ourselves as the “boutique service” for the area. Our word-of-mouth referrals are amazing – what a blessing!

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success, especially when working with animals in the way that I do, comes through safety (of the animals and myself) and contentment (of the animals and myself). We have so much fun and feel very accomplished at the end of our visits each day!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Emily Neish

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