Rock Perks Spotlight: Nature of the Dog
By Allie Wittenbach
In spring 2011, Jackie Moord and her husband Luke decided it was time for a change of pace. Jackie was working a full-time job, but she was seriously missing her previous experience working with animals — so much so that she began walking dogs on her lunch break. At the time, she was pregnant with her first child, and after a few months of dog-walking, she wondered if she would be able to continue this business while also working her other job. Thankfully, Luke stepped up big time, and their team effort helped Jackie’s dream of launching a dog-walking company become a reality.
Since then, Nature of the Dog has taken off, becoming the Moords’ full-time passion and business. Over the last several years, they have not only been offering dog-walking services to the Grand Rapids area, but also boarding and daycare — including a boarding facility that Jackie and Luke manage right behind their family home in Ada. Jackie, Luke and eight other Nature of the Dog employees bring a passion for their work each day and it shows through what they are accomplishing in the Grand Rapids community.
What makes Nature of the Dog different from the competition?
“We are very big on training our employees to handle and train dogs the right way. We train them in basic dog behavior and handling skills, and so we use easy-walk harnesses with every dog that we walk to ensure the walk is as safe and gentle as possible. We are proud that we can train people to follow the proper protocol when they’re walking other people’s dogs. This makes it a better-quality experience for the dogs and our clients alike.”
What’s your favorite thing about operating a business in Grand Rapids?
Grand Rapids is just great. It is a wonderful and very dog-friendly city. We love walking the dogs downtown, and we love seeing that there are little bowls of water set outside of businesses for them to enjoy. Our Grand Rapids community has been fantastic. Along with this, there are so many beautiful spots in Grand Rapids — specifically along the river — for dogs to get a lot of good sniffs in. We hit those spots as much as we can when we are out. We also love that Rockford communities are pet friendly.
What’s the most satisfying part about serving your customers and the community?
We don’t just build relationships with the dogs — we build them with their owners too. Every time we walk, we are sending journals to owners to let them know how the walk went. That creates great relationships. Because of this, we have gotten close to a lot of our clients and I think that is such an added perk to doing something that we love. We love being outside, and we love being with dogs, but I don’t think we realized when we first started that we would build relationships and communities with dogs and owners.
Why did you join the Rock Perks program? What benefits has it brought to your business and your customers?
Rockford Construction reached out to us. It seemed like a great opportunity just because of how many dogs live at Rockford properties. We have gotten some business from the partnership and it has just been so fun watching the events for people with pets at the properties, and it is special we can be a part of that.
What’s on the horizon for Nature of the Dog in the future?
Right now, we are adding onto our boarding facility, which is a big deal for us because we are a bit strict about keeping our facilities small. We think this leads to better care, less anxiety and less noise for the dogs that stay with us. Right now, we have a facility with six rooms, and each room has natural light and a window. Currently, we are adding six more spaces. We want it to be easy to manage but a better environment for the dog. In this industry, bigger is not always better. We want to provide the best experience for the dogs, and we hope this expansion is finished in November. We have a lot on our plate right now, but we are looking forward to everything to the future of Nature of the Dog.
As a Rockford Property Management resident, member of Blue35 or Rockford Construction team member, you have access to the Rock Perks program, which will get you 10% off boarding services at Nature of the Dog. To take advantage of the discount, just mention the Rock Perks program when you book these services. Don’t have a Rock Perks card yet? Consider joining us as a resident.