Our March MVP: Heidi Ryti!

by Chun-Soon on March 26, 2010

This month, we continue our TeamBArk MVP tradition with none other than Heidi, on whom many of you have come to rely for your pet’s most intimate needs. Heidi came to us as the Mover & Shaker of Petato Pet Services, who we merged with back in January. She’s not only the superb field manager who conducts our barking, purring orchestra with skill and aplomb, but she is also a highly adept dog trainer who helps us with our “special needs” clients.

pB: Heidi, you started out walking dogs for Petato and then, a few months into that, you took over as their manager. This was three years ago? How was that transition for you?

Heidi:  The transition was rough for me in the beginning because there was so much to learn about the dogs, cats, and about how to keep the business running efficiently.  I suddenly became very aware of what it takes behind the scenes to keep so many schedules organized.  But the previous owner of Petato was very helpful.  He was there to answer all of my questions whenever I needed.  And the clients and walkers were great as well.  They were patient with me as I took a bit more time to answer questions and requests for service in the beginning.  And I appreciated that.

pB: The majority of your working day as field manager involves scheduling, client emails, invoicing and the like. Ever miss the dogs?

Heidi:  YES!  I do miss the dogs.  I surprise myself with how much I talk about them with friends and family.  I love those opportunities when I get to visit them.  I might need to meet up with one of our team members for something or another and they are usually with one of our pups.  I always say hello to the dogs first.  Pets, hugs, kisses, treats.  And the dogs always seem happy to see me.  I love that about dogs.  And I’m always just as happy to see them.  I wish I had time to visit with them more often.

pB: Since our merger with Petato, what are some of the changes you’ve seen for the Petato walkers and clients?

Heidi:  To be completely honest, I have seen only good changes.  And other than some procedural differences such as a different billing system, I think the Petato/Prospect Bark merger only helped to improve the service that Petato originally provided.  We provided the very best care for our doggie and kitty friends that we possibly could.  The only difference now is that we have more doggie and kitty friends, and more team members to help provide the care that our dogs and kitties deserve.

pB: Got an all-time favorite cat sit or dog walking tale?

Heidi:  Yes I do.  This happened back when I was walking a full route of my own.  It was pretty late in the day and I was just leaving a walk on 5th street and 5th avenue in Park Slope.  I was locking up the gate when I heard a whimper from a dog.  I stepped out onto the sidewalk and noticed a small dog shivering on top of the stoop next door.  It was one of those cold, wet days in winter and I am sure she was freezing.  Of course I knocked on the door to see if the owner of the dog happened to live in that brownstone.  The person who lived there came out and she said that the dog was not hers and that she had never seen this dog on the block before.  I myself had been walking on that block twice a day for several months and had never seen this dog either.  The dog was friendly but obviously terrified.  So I took her with me.  My intention was to take her on my last walk and then try and find her owner somehow (she didn’t have tags on her collar).  As luck would have it, I saw a flyer as I was walking down 5th avenue.  It was a missing dog flyer and I happened to be carrying the dog that they were looking for!  I called the number immediately and the owner came to pick up the dog right away.  It turns out that the owner lived a few blocks away and the dog had become frightened of a noise and managed to wiggled out of her harness and run off.  The owner was extremely thankful.  And I felt great that I helped this dog find her home again.

pB: Your job, basically, is behind-the-scenes to make sure all the pets get the best care they deserve. Obviously, you love the animals. What are some animal-welfare issues that you feel strongly about?

Heidi:   Oh, I could go on and on here.  I feel very strongly about every animal rights issue.  I have no tolerance for animal abuse in any form.  But if i had to choose what issue I feel most strongly about, it would have to be domestic animal abuse.

pB: Tell us about your training chops. What’s your particular training approach, and how can people reach you to get help with their pup?

Heidi:  I am a firm believer in positive reinforcement training only.  I believe that positive reinforcement is the only method one can use to ensure that a pup has zero chance of developing any negative associations.  With other methods, a dog runs a risk of developing fearful or aggressive behaviors.  Training should always remain fun for a dog and the owner.  I am constantly amazed at how smart dogs are and with just a bit of guidance, dogs can learn very quickly.  I see no need to punish a dog for being a dog.  The trick is to teach the dog how to live in a human world through positive associations and reinforcement, not to physically or mentally frighten the dog into submission.  My golden rule is to always reinforce and reward dogs for behavior that you want by giving them treats, toys, verbal praise, or pets.  And at the same time, work with the dog to extinguish behaviors that you do not want (barking, pulling, jumping).  If any of our doggie owner friends out there have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email at heidi.ryti@gmail.com.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Gina April 6, 2010 at 11:07 pm

CONGRATS HEIDI! you deserve it like no other! love, your humble servant, Gina.

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