Tigers and dogs and elephants, oh my! Julie, a DogVacay host who has over 20 years of experience caring for exotic animals, is a professional animal trainer who is ready to open up her 174-acre ranch to your vacationing pooch. Providing long-term pet boarding and training, Julie is a true animal lover who will strive to make your pup feel loved while you are away.
What services do you provide on DogVacay?
I provide long-term pet boarding and care, and dog or puppy training.
What training and experience do you have pet sitting?
I have 20 years of experience as an exotic animal trainer. I began my career with animals working with rescue groups and I got involved with Marine World, which ended up being a great networking opportunity. I saw the tiger shows at Marine World and was instantly hooked. I was blown away by Ron, the person doing the show, and I wanted to get involved in any way I could. It’s funny because a lot of people think it’s all about glamour and glitz, but it’s actually very challenging. For me, I loved all aspects of it and evolved from there. I became an elephant trainer and also worked with Sahara, the first tiger I rescued, many years ago.
How did you end up with Sahara?
At the end of each show Ron presented at Marine World, he talked to the audience about endangered tigers and I was so inspired by what he said that I wanted to help tigers in any way I could. So while living in California, I networked with different organizations for a couple years (from 93-95) and was contacted by someone in Fallon, NV with a tiger cub that was purchased by someone as a pet, but after a couple weeks changed their mind and didn’t want the cub. So I went to where she was to help place her into a new suitable home but I never let her go once I met her (that cub was Sahara).
I fell in love with her and decided to keep her and raise her myself, but I had to go through tons of hoops to accomplish that and ended up moving to Fallon, NV and purchased 10 acres using my own funds to build a compound that was suitable enough to house Sahara and give her the best life I could. So I built a compound for her and other unwanted or abused large cats to act as a temporary home until permanent housing could be found. By the time I moved, I knew Ron and Michelle (his assistant) from the Marine World Show and they were my mentor’s in training Sahara. I am grateful to them because they taught me everything I know about training and Ron is known as one of the greatest tiger trainers in the world to this day. Anyway, I trained her by using positive reinforcement and created a short educational demonstrated of a tigers natural behavior in the wild, and then extended the behavior to show their amazing agility. For safety reasons, I used a portables cage for all event and presentations.
Once my license was established I moved back to the Bay Area with Sahara and still am with her today. But this is how dedicated I am to my passion in life and what I meant when I said people don’t realize how difficult it is to actually become a “tiger trainer.” I changed their whole life around, moved to a small town and spent a lot of money to be able to learn how to work with big cats. But from that I was able to live my dream and I wouldn’t change anything if I had it to do all over again.
Do you have any dogs?
I have a Great Pyrenees named Avalanche.
What was the hardest thing you’ve ever had to teach a dog?
Well, Great Pyrenees are known for not listening, and mine is very stubborn as well. It was very difficult, but I got him to come back to me when he’s off leash by rewarding him every time he came to me.
What was the hardest thing you’ve ever had to teach a tiger?
Getting Sahara the tiger to come to me from a long distance when she was off leash was really hard to teach.
What was the hardest trick you’ve ever had to teach an elephant?
I wanted to teach Angel the elephant a trick to incorporate into a show. I got her to put her trunk under her left foot and hop. Elephants are very smart animals, it generally only takes about a week to teach them tricks (depending on the trick).
Why is home dog boarding a good option?
Pets don’t want to be kenneled. It’s like going to jail while owners are out of town. When dogs stay in an actual home when their owners are out of town, they get around-the-clock, 24/7 care. Someone is always there to take care of them, they get to socialize with other animals in supervised settings, and they can go for walks instead of being caged up.
What can prospective clients expect when leaving their dog with you?
Their dogs will get 24/7 care, exercise, and attention. I try my hardest to follow the owners daily routine and keep it as similar as possible. For example, whatever time the dog is used to being fed, I will feed him at the same time. The main thing is that they will be in a house with me and have a regular schedule. I also live on private ranch with a fenced yard and set-up for pets, so there is plenty of room for them to play and run.
What advice do you have for dog owners who are utilizing home boarding services for the first time?
They should just be reassured that their dogs are being taken care of with a professional who has the experience to handle their pet rather than kennel. Their dogs will have 24/7 supervision so if anything goes wrong, there will be someone there to take care of them. Above all, they will get love and attention.
DogVacay hand-picks only the most reliable, trusted hosts to watch your dog. After being pre-screened and interviewed, host profiles are approved and ready for service. Host Spotlight is our way of featuring hosts and showing off the great services they offer through DogVacay. If you would like to be featured on our Host Spotlight, please contact us.