Today we are excited to shine the spotlight on one of our loyal clients, John Mullen, and his four-legged working companions. Read more to learn about the role that dogs play in his and his family's lives, and what brought them into ours!
John Mullen is a fourth generation Arizonan. Born and raised in Tempe, he built a career in the lumber industry there, surrounding himself with family. John and his wife have always enjoyed the antics and unique personalities of dogs, so after their third son was born, they became interested in the campanionship of a family dog, and raised their three boys alongside two golden retrievers.
"First and foremost, any dog, even a working breed, is primarily a companion. "
In 2012, John retired, sold his lumberyards, and settled down with his wife in the Village of Oakcreek. Today they are joined by their two 5-year-old working dogs, Rheanna, a female Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, and Kona, a female Pudelpointer. John has trained Rheanna and Kona to hunt, and when he can, he keeps them busy tracking and retrieving upland gaming birds, primarily Pheasant, Chukar, and Quail. "First and foremost, any dog, even a working breed, is primarily a companion," he shares, "If I am Lucky, I will get to hunt with my dogs about 5% of the time."
"All dogs, no matter how small or large, follow [pack] instincts. Teaching them [obedience] early will make for a life long, well-mannered companion."
John goes on to share about the pack animal nature of dogs, "The need for obedience is paramount. All dogs, no matter how small or large, follow the group instincts. In order to keep the balance, there will always be an alpha in the pack. If an dog's trainer or handler (owner), does not step up to become that alpha, then the dog will, and things will become difficult. This lack of balance is the root of all behavior issues with canines." John believes that no matter what kind of dog you have or their role in your life, teaching them essential commands early, like "heal", "come", "sit", and "stay", will make for a life-long, well-mannered companion.
John has been bringing Rheanna and Kona to Hillside for over 3 years now, taking advantage of our grooming and luxury boarding services. "Hillside has been a valuable resource for us. Their staff are great, caring people, and being located right off I-17 is very convenient when travelling to Phoenix and flying out of Sky Harbor."
We have very much enjoyed getting to know John, Rheanna, and Kona, and want to thank everyone in the Verde Valley who have allowed us to serve them and their four-legged families! Stay tuned later this month for team spotlight on the Hillside family!
At Hillside, dogs are our passion, but most importantly, their parents are our family! Therefore we take every opportunity to reach out and get to know our clients so that we may better serve those who support us, and keep our facilities open to serve the public. Today we are honored to sit down with two of our loyal customers, and very important citizens, Tina and Jodi, to learn what drew them to Hillside, and how their experiences here have affected their lives.
Tina and Jodi have been coming to Hillside with their dogs for almost a year now. Originally from Indiana, Tina has lived in the Verde Valley for over a decade, and serves the community through Social work. Jodi moved to Arizona from New York close to four years ago, and also serves Verde Valley residents as a respiratory therapist. These two community members are avid dog lovers. “Working dogs have always been a part of my life. Growing up, my dad trained our beagles to hunt rabbits. My favorite beagle was named bandit. We were pretty close!” shares Tina. Jodi’s favorite family dog growing up was a Lapso Apso named Spunky.
Thanks to training and socialization in their daycare and boarding service, he is now doing great! We are seeing his health improve immensely, and his confidence is growing every day. Samson now smiles and thinks he is a lapdog, which we do not mind!"
In addition to serving the humans in their community, Tina and Jodi have made it a point to open their home to animals in need. For years, they have indiscriminately taken in rescues, some with mysterious pasts and behaviors. Their two dogs, Samson and Stella are some of Hillside’s favorite visitors. Samson, the first to be rescued, is a ten-month-old American Staffordshire Terrier and Australian Shepherd mix. “We are not sure what happened to him, but he was only 2 pounds when we got him,” Tina Shares, “ He was severely malnourished, and was scared of his own shadow. Thanks to Hillside training and socialization in their daycare and boarding service, he is now doing great! We are seeing his health improve immensely, and his confidence is growing every day. Samson now smiles and thinks he is a lapdog, which we do not mind!”
Stella, their Chiuhuahua , Pomeranian, and Dachshund mix was found by their daughter, Tori. “Tori searched for days for the perfect puppy. Finally she came across her best buddy through a breeder in Phoenix, and we have been delighted to learn that she is extremely smart and picks up tricks quickly!”
In addition to their dogs, Tina and Jodi have a clowder of rescue cats, Jerry Garcia, Marley, and sisters, Alex and Piper. “We fondly call Jerry Garcia ‘Jerry the fat cat’. We found him in a rescue shelter as a kitten, after he had been pulled from a fire with a burnt tail. Sadly, the smoke caused him to lose his meow. After some tender love and care, he is doing great now, with all of his hair regrown, and even his meow has returned! He loves food, and will start knocking over things when hungry. He loves to affectionately rest his paw in your hand, and out of all our cats, we think he is the best snuggler.”
Their second cat Marley, was rescued from a shelter in 2010. “She was sadly abandoned by her owners in their home after they moved out. She is a great and quirky cat, who will only accept affection on her terms. She is not shy, however, and will head butt you when it is time to pet her.”
Alex and Piper were found in a dump as kittens, and also came to Tina and Jodi via a shelter. “We’ve found that Alex does not like being inside at all., so now she is a happy outside cat. Piper loves to roam around outside as well, but is more comfortable inside.”
We have really loved getting to know Tina, Jodi, Stella and Sampson in their many visits to Hillside for grooming, daycare and training! We are also super excited to welcome their daughter Tori as the newest member of the Hillside family this month, and look forward to many years of serving them and the community.
In April, we were so excited to hold HIllside’s open interviews day at our facilities. So many wonderful Verde Valley residents came out and put their best foot forward. We were also pleasantly surprised that a few familiar faces came out, as well, our clients! This month we are turning the spotlight on the newest addition to our team, Tori Bracy.
Tori moved to the Verde Valley from Phoenix just over a year ago, when her mother was offered a position at the Verde Valley Medical Center. Although she had the option to stay and finish school in her hometown, she decided to make a change and migrate up here, as well. “I really wanted to get out of the city and try a different lifestyle. It was a good choice. I really enjoy the slower, more relaxed lifestyle of the Verde Valley, and it is so beautiful!” Tori shares.
Tori is no stranger to Hillside. Her dog Sampson, has been a Hillside K9 Academy pupil, and she has joined him on occasion in his training. “I really love the atmosphere here, and when I heard that a kennel tech position was available, I thought it would be a great opportunity to do what I love for a living.” Tori now has a hands-on job, caring for (and playing with) Hillside’s daycare and boarding residents. “My favorite thing about working with dogs is just how rewarding it is! They are always so happy to see me, especially when I have treats. It is so much fun, I really had no idea that work could be so enjoyable. I don’t know if I could ever move to a desk or counter job after this.”
I really love the atmosphere at [Hillside], and when I heard that a kennel tech position was available, I thought it would be a great opportunity to do what I love for a living."
In addition to the daily joy of working with both Hillside’s canines and their paw-parents, Tori hopes that she will be able to witness her wards grow and provide a positive influence on their lives, like she does at home with her own animals. “I currently have 2 dogs and 2 cats at home. Stella and Sampson, my two dogs are around 10 months old. Stella, our Dachsund mix, is great, she is such a happy dog. Sampson, our Staffordshire, however, developed some serious aggression issues.” After bringing Sampson for an evaluation, they began one-on-one training at Hillside, and with work, graduated to group classes. “Sampson has really come a long way, he is so much more relaxed around other people, and now is a regular client of Vicky, Hillside’s groomer!”
We are so excited to have Tori on our team, here at Hillside Canine Resort and Spa, and want to invite you to come and meet our newest family member! She can be seen interacting with our residents in the play yard, or taking walks around the property with our more shy fur-guests.
In honor of National Admin Professionals Day, we are turning the spotlight onto Hillside’s front desk administrator, Auli, and her full canine pack!
Auli is a Mingus Union Alumni whose love for animals has been infectious in the Hillside front office. Born in Eatonville, Washington, she moved to the Verde Valley at just 1 year old and has lived here her entire life. A full-blown animal enthusiast, it has been her dream to own a business similar to Hillside, so when she spotted an ad for a position there, she jumped at the chance to work with dogs. “I have trained my own dogs, and the dogs of a few friends, and thought that this would be a perfect environment for me to be in to nurture that passion!” Auli shared.
At home, Auli has 7 animals including 6 dogs, each with a completely unique and quirky temperament. Today I sat down with her to talk about her family of canines, and how their personalities enhance her life.
We'll begin with Rocky, her 2-year old Shit Zu-Maltese mix. He is the most therapeutic soul in the pack, never leaves Auli's side, and is the most photographed of the family, most likely because he loves to get his hair cut at Hillside! ”Rocky is my emotional support dog, and a momma's boy. His favorite thing to do is to rub his face against other faces, especially humans. It’s very calming and shows that he is made of just pure love."
Carub, her 15-year-old chocolate lab loves just about anyone who will go on a walk with him, including her neighbor, who she loans him to for that reason. “He has a mean bark, but really wouldn’t hurt a fly,” she remarks.
Chicka, her cuddly Chihuahua, is not typical for her breed. “She is basically a cat in a dog’s body and loves to spend all day sitting in the sun, just looking out a window.”
Ringo is her 5-year-old Jack Russel, who is solid muscle. “Ringo is very entertaining, and can run and jump endlessly without tiring, I really hope he can go forever!”
Delilah, her 3-year old Sharpei-Lab mix is not small in size, but thinks she is a lap dog. “Delilah is an interesting one. She is typically very shy but plays favorites with both people and other animals. She and will only socialize when she feels like it, and we haven’t cracked the code of who that may be from one moment to the next, but when she does, she is a a puddle of love."
Last, but not least, Cookies’n’Cream is her 4-year old Blue Tic Healer. “He is our lovable hunter. He has endless energy and loves just about everyone and everything in life. It is all an adventure to him.”
In addition to Auli’s pack of animals, a Calico cat named Niko has a place in her heart. “Niko is an outdoor-only cat. He graces us with his presence but hates to be picked up or touched. His affection is coded, and is really only shown through his selective meow, which is awarded only to people who he knows well. We understand, and accept it gladly when it comes!”
Since this last Winter, Auli has been a wonderful member of the Hillside family. Her love for dogs have fueled the passionate enthusiasm that has extended to the personable customer service that she provides at our reception desk. “I am in love with all dogs’ spirit, and love that no matter what, in every dog, their love for their owner never changes. Interacting with all of our clients' canine companions on a daily basis is the best food for the soul.”
Today we honor Hillside Founders, Shawn and Jennifer Tucker, and sit down with Jennifer to learn about their experiences working with the community and their animal companions.
These two hardworking professionals have dedicated their lives to the care and training of dogs from all over the Verde Valley and across the country. They have earned the respect of neighbors in the Northern Arizona community, which has given their businesses the reputation for being the #1 canine resort & spa and dog training facilities in the state!
Jennifer and Shawn have been together for over 11 years. After meeting at the baby shower of one of Jennifer’s former employees, they settled down in Phoenix, Arizona, where Shawn was born and raised. At the time, Jennifer worked in legal arbitration and negotiations, and Shawn commuted 4 days a week to the Verde Valley where he worked as a firefighter. After 4 years of this commute and finding themselves empty-nesters, they moved to Camp Verde, and Shawn to this day continues his public service at the (Camp Verde) fire station.
Q: Have you and Shawn always worked with animals?
A. I really became influenced by Shawn’s passion for animals. I grew up around dogs and horses, and cared for our children’s dogs, but Shawn has really made it his life’s work, and now it is mine. He has been training dogs for over 20 years, and continued his work under a very well-known dog trainer who produced police and bomb sniffing canines for the Boston Police department.
Q. What made you two want to open the Hillside Facilities?
A. Hillside really chose us. When we moved here, people constantly sought out Shawn for training, often asking us to keep their dogs while we rehabilitated them or when they had to leave town. We always agreed, but eventually found ourselves overwhelmed, caring for so many dogs on our own property, so we sought and bought a beautiful property with a view of the Verde Valley, and opened the Hillside facilities in 2014.
...the most fulfilling aspect of this journey - translating our plan of helping others into action. Two-legged and four-legged alike.
Q. What are your favorite things about running your own business?
A. We really love the opportunity to be a positive influence on the community, and to be able to give back. This is a huge reason why we founded the non-profit “Northern Arizona Service Dogs.” It has been the most fulfilling aspect of this journey, to have the ability to improve the lives of others, and translating our plan of helping others into action. Two-legged and four-legged alike.
Q. What are the biggest challenges you have faced in this line of work?
A. We’ve honestly been surprised to find that it is not always easy to find others who are as passionate about animals as we are. We have a great core group of employees at Hillside, and are so thankful to have them in our family. As we grow, however, finding others who compare in their dedication is a rare thing!
You are a one-man-band, until you build rapport with your community and prove reliability. Later on, it is so important to surround yourself with others who are equally reliable.
Q. Is there any advice you would give to someone who wants to venture into entrepreneurship?
A. Plan, plan, plan! And ultimately, give it a shot, because with follow-through it will be worth it. You will have to be your most motivated self, because in the beginning it is just you, running everything from maintenance, the books, and customer service, to the hands on and nitty gritty. You are a one-man-band, until you build rapport with your community and prove reliability. Later on, it is so important to surround yourself with others who are equally reliable, because delegation is the key to a smoothly sailed ship.
Q. Have you ever had a moment since founding Hillside where you thought, “This is it, this is why we do this.”
A. Yes! Once, we were able to help a local Verde Valley couple who were very much in need of a dog. He was a disabled veteran who was about to give up after being on the “Soldier’s Best Friend” list for almost two and a half years, with countless run-arounds. Shawn searched all over for a suitably tempered candidate, and eventually was able to adopt a dog from a Phoenix couple who could no longer take care of him. We cared for him at the facilities, trained him to become a certified service animal, and later donated him to the veteran and his beautiful wife. That dog stills serves them today.
Q. What are your favorite local businesses to support?
A. We have several! Personally, we love to eat at a local mom-and-pop restaurant in Camp Verde called La Casita. I like to support Hannah’s Nails in Camp Verde, as well, and go there as often as I have time. We have sponsored South Verde High alternative school, so that they can have a prom, and felt so blessed to have them come and do the beautiful murals that surround the Hillside doggy suites.
[Our pets] are all really good sports about sharing our attention with the community’s dogs and are great role models...
Q. What animals are a part of your family?
A. Silver is our miniature poodle who you may see napping next to the groomer behind the Hillside office. Tiger is our rescue cat who is really the Hillside Mascot. He is very laid back, and provides a valuable service when acclimating canine trainees to the presence of cats. Shawn’s babies include a Belgian Malinois named Apollo, and a Dutch Shepherd named Kimber. They are all really good sports about sharing our attention with the community’s dogs and are great role models for less confident dogs.
Q. Is their any news you would like to share about Hillside?
A. We are currently making a big push to expand our staff, and are opening our doors to the community this Friday for open interviews. I am really hoping this face-to-face style of applications will result in quality additions to our family.
Q. Speaking of additions to your family, I heard you have had an exciting one recently.
A. Yes! Shawn and I have a combined 6 adult children in our clan. Just last week we welcomed our very second granddaughter into the world, Ms. Katherine Renee. She is just so beautiful, I am completely blown away at the love, joy, and excitement she has brought to us and all around her.
Congratulations, Shawn and Jennifer, on the expansion of both your personal and professional families. It seems as though this spring marks another huge step in the lives of two of the Camp Verde’s most cherished entrepreneurs, and we wish them all of the happiness and success that they deserve!
At Hillside Canine Resort & Spa, our employees are like family. Today we are excited to highlight our team member Victoria, who shares why she came to Hillside, and some of the most important things she has done and learned in her years here.
21-year-old Victoria, or fondly known as Vicky, has lived in the Verde Valley her whole life. Born in Cottonwood, she attended Camp Verde High school, where she evolved a close sense of community. “I’ve never really had an urge to leave, and although many people I know have moved away, this really is my home,” she shares.
In the Spring of 2016, Victoria spotted an ad for a Kennel Technician, and jumped at the chance. “I just love animals, and own a dog, and several other animals varying from cats to tarantulas. I was super excited to have a chance to work with them closely, and have loved every minute of it. It has been very fulfilling to keep canine family members company and taking them out to play. It’s also been a great learning experience.”
After working closely with many local and travelling dogs in Hillside’s boarding and daycare programs, last year, Victoria made a lateral move into grooming. The opportunity for creative expression and greater chance to help animals in need made the new position very appealing to her. “For the most part, it’s a fun way to bring out the natural beauty in dogs, but there is another aspect that really drew me to it. I have come across many unfortunate cases of dogs that have gotten themselves into trouble, or gone too long between grooming and nail care, and take seriously the opportunity to be able to educate dog parents in keeping their babies happy and healthy.”
"I take seriously the opportunity to be able to educate dog parents in keeping their babies happy and healthy."
In one case Victoria shares about a toy poodle that came in multiple times with a matted and unmanageable coat. Poodles don’t normally need what is called a “puppy cut”, or a short, single length shave all over, which is all that she was able do during each visit. This results in a very uniform, fluffy look, which does not take advantage of this breed’s natural features. “Their tight and curly coat needs more maintenance than other breeds, and after working with her owner to keep on a regular grooming schedule, including regular brushings at home, we eventually have been able to give her a more classic poodle look, with a slim body and voluminous ears, paws, and tail!”
In a more severe case, Victoria recalls a rescue dog that had just been adopted and was brought in immediately by his new family. “This poor chow had a severely matted coat. The owner, Jennifer, and I worked together for over an hour and a half, very carefully removing the fur a little at a time, and picked hundreds of foxtails from his skin. He had so many sores, which we gently treated, and seemed so happy afterwards, like a completely different dog.”
The most frequent challenges that the folks at Hillside face are deformed and twisted nails. “Depending on how fast they grow, we really encourage owners to bring in their dog up to twice a month for nail maintenance. If left too long, nails can begin to twist and curl, which can be very painful and impede walking. This is especially important for breeds and older dogs that may be genetically disposed to weight gain or hip problems. Even after long, curled nails have been clipped, there is only so much length that can be taken off comfortably, and the deformation may still remain until one or two more trims in the future.”
Victoria works full time, beautifying dogs from all over the Verde Valley, and enjoys adding personal touches like bandanas, ribbons and bows to her canine masterpieces. Visit us Monday – Saturday 9am to 2pm, introduce your favorite canine companion, and leave with a happy, healthy, and beautiful pup!