“Let's go around the room and introduce ourselves.”
“Share a fun fact about yourself.”
“What do you do for fun?”
Panic inducing phrases. Questions that make me suddenly forget everything I've ever done and what I do and who I am. What DO I do for fun? What if I only have weird facts about myself? Trying to describe yourself, what you do, and who you are in a short amount of time is difficult. Nevertheless, I am going to attempt to do it here, in my preferred format (writing).
Let's just start with the basics...
My name is Haley Tucker. I’m an extroverted introvert. I grew up in Enfield, New Hampshire with my parents and many pets. Even though I've had a normal life and have been pretty vanilla, I've always been just a little different. I've never wanted just any job, I didn't want to go to a traditional college, I wanted to buy my first house before I was 21, and I have never, ever wanted to settle.
Since I can remember, I have always wanted to work with animals. When I would play house with my best friend in elementary school, I played the mom who was a veterinarian and drove a Dodge Durango (no minivans for this little girl). Growing up in a house with so many pets, and with a swamp on the property that I would collect tadpoles and salamanders from, it's no surprise that I grew up loving animals and wanting to work with them.
I got my first job when I was 14-years-old, at a farm stand, which involved driving a fork lift and a tractor, deadheading petunias, tossing corn cobs over the barn, riding wagons down to the back greenhouse, listening to countless stories from my boss, and taking care of his ancient dog. When the farm stand closed for good, I needed a new job, but I didn't want anything typical; I wanted to do something I cared about, and something that gave me purpose.
I fell into a position at a local dog daycare, boarding, grooming, and training facility, where I worked for the remainder of high school and through getting my Associate's Degree in Business Management. During my time there, I volunteered during dog training classes and at one point thought I might become a dog trainer.
Eventually, I realized what I really wanted to do was open my own daycare, boarding, training, and rescue/shelter facility.
In 2010, I started working as a dispatcher at the Lebanon Police Department - I thought this is what I would do for just a few years while saving money to open my business. I bought my first house right on schedule, a few weeks before I turned 21. I spent the next three years working third shift and becoming a vampire, developing health problems, doing pet-sitting on the side, and trying to start my business.
I looked at several commercial properties to lease or buy, I went to business meetings and classes, I met with banks and economic development councils, I made business plans and cash flow projection worksheets, I presented in front of a planning board, and everything else under the sun to try to make this business happen. For various reasons each time, it didn't happen.
Eventually, I had to get off third shift because doctors kept insisting it was the cause of my health problems (spoiler alert: it wasn't). In 2013, I stayed on as a part-time dispatcher but began regular full-time daytime work at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College. That place introduced me to some of my very favorite people and a couple of best friends. I continued with the plan that I would just work there for a couple years until I could start my business.
In 2015, my then boyfriend and I ended our very long relationship and I had to sell my beloved house. Because I now had two large dogs, one of them being a pit bull (more on them later), no one would rent to me, so I ended up purchasing a tiny condo on Mascoma Lake. The next two years consisted of emotional roller coasters, almost moving to Utah to work at Best Friends Animal Society, plans to drive an RV across the country to adopt a dog, very bright red hair, my first foster dog, and cramming three crazy dogs into an 800 square foot condo.
So, not the ideal time to start a business.
In 2017, I sold that condo and bought a house in Canaan, New Hampshire, where I now live - it had a two-car garage and no zoning restrictions, which meant I could potentially run a business there. In 2018, I returned to work full-time at the Police Department, this time as an administrative assistant (and still part-time dispatcher). The money was better, so I called it a strategic move and thought it would be better for saving for my business. See a theme here? And in 2018, I met my now boyfriend, Michael, who has been nothing but supportive and helpful with all of my business and rescue goals.
I spent months trying to decide what the next most logical step for the business would be, and then one day, I decided that after almost ten years of working desk jobs that I didn't like to prepare for this business, that I just had to do something. I had to make a move. I started looking into converting my garage into dog boarding. And so began the journey of actually finally starting my business.
Between Then and Now...
I completed my Bachelor’s Degree in Communications with a concentration in Business Management. Briefly, I had a third job at a humane society, working with shelter dogs. I fostered seven dogs through three different rescues in New England (I've had to temporarily stop fostering because of one of my own dogs). I’ve volunteered with other local rescues, as well as Best Friends Animal Society in Utah. I’ve continued going to dog training and animal-related seminars and workshops, learning as much as I can on subjects from dog body language to disaster response. I attended agility classes with my pit bull and we even made it to a couple competitions (super fun and challenging), as well as fun competitions like Green Mountain Iron Dog.
Current Interests, Goals, and Dreams
I still have an interest in becoming a dog trainer, but am now more focused on becoming a behavior consultant; I’m much more drawn to helping individuals and their dogs with behavior modification than I am to teaching a group obedience class. In the last year or so, I’ve also become more interested in learning about aggression in dogs, so several recent workshops I’ve attended have been centered around that.
I’ve always loved black labs and giant breeds, especially Mastiffs and Great Danes. I have a soft spot for fearful and timid dogs that need a little help coming out of their shell and learning that the world isn’t super scary. The types of dogs that hold the biggest space in my heart though are pit bull type dogs - the pitties, the pibbles, the bully breeds, the big-headed muscular meatball dogs. I have been learning about pit bulls since the Michael Vick case, which happened while I was in high school, and have been advocating for them ever since. I’m also a strong advocate of rescues and rescue and shelter dogs, though I support very responsible breeders as well, since without them, wonderful breeds would no longer exist.
My long-term goal and dream is to move to a much larger property with more land, expand boarding and daycare services, add training, including a space for agility training and competitions, possibly a canine rehabilitation and therapy center for injuries, plus dog rescue and an all animal sanctuary.
Now... Fun (random) facts about me?
I can't whistle or snap my fingers, I've always secretly wanted to be a badass, I hate revolving doors, and I have severe arachnophobia but have lived with a tarantula.
I enjoy the outdoors, spending time with friends and family, hosting parties and dinners, and anything dog-related. I like to decorate, cook, shop, play piano and attempt to play the drums, listen to music, write, take pictures, and do anything creative. I like to travel, go to concerts, and go to the beach.
My favorite holiday is absolutely Halloween, my favorite season is definitely fall, my favorite color is black, and my favorite foods are pizza and English muffins.
The next several blog posts will be a series all about my first rescue dog, Jezzie, her inspiring and tragic story, and why my business is called Jezzie's Place.