According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent over $69 billion on their pets in 2017. Of that, over $6 billion went to services like groomers, dog walkers and trainers. It’s this last category that Renee Bogaarts falls into. Bogaarts runs Dingo Doggies in Los Angeles, a dog training service that got its start with a troubled rescue and a lot of Animal Planet.
My name’s Renee Bogaarts. I’m a dog trainer, and I started Dingo Doggie’s in 2014. And I live in Santa Monica, California.
Before 2014 was a little bit rough for me personally. I’d come out of a relationship quite abruptly that I didn’t see coming. I found that a lot of my happiness came from when I was with my dogs.
The dog I rescued, her name was Lola. I took her home and it was very, very hard. She was so fearful and she’d wet herself and she’d get aggressive. And every day, all I did was watch Animal Planet and talk to trainers and talk to vets and try clicker training and try treats. And whatever she’d respond to in a positive, confident manner, I would keep doing. Beautifully, she transformed and became the most amazing dog of all.
I started getting random calls from people. “Hi, you don’t know me but one of my neighbors said that you had this crazy dog and you transformed it. I was wondering if you could help me with my dog.” I would say, “Sure, I’ll come and take a look.” And then they told their friends, because it worked. At the same time, I was working in restaurants. I didn’t have the main source of income from doing the dogs. You know, I was making $40 some days. Other days I made nothing. So in the beginning, I really wasn’t supporting myself. There came a point where I just said, “OK, I need to start charging people, and I need to get rid of this waitressing thing because there’s not enough hours in the day.” And so I started charging and people started paying, and it took a lot of energy and a lot of time out of me that I just bumped up the prices incrementally.
Dogs have really, in a sense, schooled me. I prefer their company over humans. I love the company of humans as well. But there’s nothing better than having a great dog next to you.
This series only works with your help. Let us know how your economy is doing using the form below, and your story may appear in a future My Economy.
There’s a lot happening in the world. Through it all, Marketplace is here for you.
You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible.
Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.