Each year we honor one of our favorite causes, pet adoption, by featuring rescued pets as our catalog models. This year we had thirteen models in all shapes and sizes wearing our collars and coats. Their spirit and joy shines through in each and every shot.
Bumble, full name Bumble Bear Hootie, comes to us all the way from a roadside in Arkansas, where he was found in a box along with his sister. Initially, he was afraid of cars and loud noise, but the security of a loving home has helped eliminate these fears. Bumble’s makeup is mostly Beagle so he will fetch for as long as you can throw the ball. But a little Hound comes out when he sings (or howls) along to Dirks Bentley. Bumble barks at absolutely everything, except when he wants to go out. That's when Bumble uses his stare down tactic- glaring intensely at whoever is available until he gets taken for a walk. (Good plan Bumble!) Burying bones, sleeping under the covers at night and his Pop-Pop are Bumble’s trifecta of favorite things in the world. Oh, and his family also includes a whole lot of bees, which was the inspiration for his name.
Bumble was also the first place winner of our online model contest, with over 1,500 votes. He was photographed by Scott Sylvia in Warren, Rhode Island, who perfectly captured Bumble’s fun loving personality! Bumble models our new Mod Floral collar, and is the face of our new Expedition Collection.
When Jen lost her mother, she lost her will. That is, until she met Bryan.
This is my best friend, Bryan, and this is our story! In November of 2011, my mom passed away from leukemia. She only lived 17 days after being diagnosed so we weren't prepared for it at all. I had moved from Iowa to Texas in February of the same year, so shortly after her services I returned to Texas.
Having only a few friends close by, I was beginning to feel myself go downhill fast. One day, right before Christmas, my boss took me to a pet store to “just look” at the puppies to try and cheer me up. We walked into the store and there was a wire pen in the middle of the store with a scared to death little dog in the corner on some newspapers. The owners told us that he was left there the day before by someone who said they needed to get rid of the “most timid” dog. He'd been left outside with a few other big dogs.
I sat down next to him and started talking to him. My boss said, “Just pick him up and see what he does.” I picked him up and he immediately put his paws around my neck and his chin on my shoulder. I started crying and I'm pretty sure he started crying too. I carried him all around the store like that and just whispered in his ear that he was safe now.
I did the paperwork and got everything he needed and then took him back to the office. He didn't know how to go through the door, which broke my heart. Bryan and I have been inseparable ever since and anyone who knows me, knows that I call him my lifesaver and best friend.
Sadly, I probably wouldn't be here if it weren't for him. Then, a year after I got Bryan, I adopted Minnie and the two of them are best friends. Minnie got me involved in a rescue group in Dallas and I now own 6 dogs and have fostered almost 50 in the last year, not to mention the many friends I've made along the way.
I miss my mom every day, but when I look at Bryan, I know that he was put in my path for a reason.
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Lesley Bowers was doing just fine. A great job in radio sales, a nice salary, bonuses – and a part-time faculty position at Howard University, teaching ownership and finance. Little did she know that an assignment she gave to her students would change her life.
The task was to write a business plan, and Lesley’s was for an imaginary pet boutique. Just then, as if by design, an acquaintance asked her the game-changing question. His retail space had become available and he wondered if Lesley wanted it. And so, almost overnight, P.U.P.S. (Pawsitively Unique Pet Shop) of Lewes opened in a tiny-but-charming retail space in Lewes, Delaware.
Today, seven years later, Lesley’s store fills a 1,000 sq. ft. space, on the Lewes version of Main Street. Her entrepreneurial success story has been told to a worldwide audience in the pages of Money magazine. Her “pet events” like the annual BarkFest and her regular Yappy Hours give the shop’s marketing a creative spin. And Up Country is so pleased that our collars, leads and accessories have been woven into Lesley’s success.
Lesley still teaches part-time at Howard University, in the School of Communication. The school’s strong emphasis on business is a great fit. The upperclassmen she teaches are learning first hand from the definitive entrepreneur, who encourages them to “follow your passion.”
And so the woman who once went to work every day in buttoned-down business attire now spends her days caring for customers who are decidedly more furry. Has she ever regretted her decision to leave the corporate world behind? We suspect you already know the answer, but we’ll let Lesley say it in her own words: “I’m the luckiest person in the world, because of my customers. I’ve never once had a nasty experience. Animal people are the nicest people on earth.”
Of course Lesley carries Up Country’s line. If you have a comment, a question on this, or any post, we are waiting to hear from you!
Looking back, it’s clear that Donna Bodell was in the right place at the right time. When she said hello to Alice Nichols 18 years ago – introduced by a mutual friend – she had no idea she would one day be Director of Design and Marketing at Up Country.
Donna has always loved art. She drew in grammar and middle school, and when she got to high school, her life’s direction would become clear. Guided by wonderful teachers, she was exposed to other mediums like batik, pastels, oils and even an etching press – and after graduation, she was accepted to one of the best art schools in the country.
At the Rhode Island School of Design, she was “a normal artsy kid,” surrounded by hundreds of eccentric, colorful students. All her hard work earned her a degree in Illustration and a wide-open future. “RISD teaches their students to be problem solvers,” says Donna. “And to this day, I’m thankful for that.”
Donna’s first job was at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, where some of the world’s most magnificent art stocked her toolbox. She designed posters, note cards and other paper goods for the museum gift shop. Before long, Donna fell in love, got married, settled in rural Rhode Island, began a family and met Alice Nichols.
Alice had a fast growing company that made dog collars. Almost immediately, the entrepreneur and the artist joined talents. Fast forward to 2012, and Donna still loves coming to work every day. She’s still living in beautiful rural Rhode Island, with her husband and three girls – one of which is a 10-year-old black lab named BeeBee who joined the family as a puppy.
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