A Lasting Puppy Love
Pet owners and pet sitters remain loyal to this thriving 10-year-old business.
By Beth Peterson
Sometimes in life it’s more polite to greet a dog first, then its human.
Lead dog walker and pet sitter for Peak City Puppy, Karen Parrish freely admits she’s often quicker to recognize a dog out for a walk in her east Apex community than the person holding the leash. And the dogs’ owners don’t mind the unintentional snub; after all, Karen and Fido go way back.
Karen has been with Peak City Puppy, an in-home petcare company, since 2014, making friends with and caring for dogs all over east Apex. “It’s nice to be a part of the community that way. I love being counted on and trusted to take care of [clients’] precious furbabies,” Karen says.
Denise S. has been a Peak City Puppy dog walker and pet sitter in the Holly Springs area since 2016. She echoes Karen’s sentiment. “Nothing is more rewarding than running into a client unexpectedly, and it’s the best feeling when that puppy recognizes you,” Denise says.
Lesley White, cofounder of Peak City Puppy, left behind a successful career in biotechnology in order to be more available to her growing family. When considering career paths that would be more family friendly, this dog lover kept thinking how nice it would be to “just be around dogs all day.” But she didn’t stop there—Lesley has put a lot of thought into what good, reliable pet care should look like. And it’s paid off: Since the business launched in 2008, local pet owners have trusted Peak City Puppy with more than 25,000 walks and 8,000 pet sitting visits each year, and the business has employed more than 100 local residents.
To achieve the level of care she would want for her own pets, Lesley knew she had to start by providing care for the team she was building. And as much as Peak City Puppy team members Karen and Denise enjoy caring for local pups (and, by extension, their humans), both women express feeling valued as employees. Denise’s priority, for example, is to be at home with her daughter. Cofounder Lesley has always honored that desire, ensuring that Denise’s work schedule matches her daughter’s school schedule. As for Karen, she came onto the Peak City Puppy team thinking it would be temporary. Five years later, she’s still part of the team. “Lesley takes employees, looks at their financial goals, and works with them to reach that goal,” Karen says.
Lesley’s commitment to her team has resulted in committed team members. “We don’t even remember what we did for our dogs before [Peak City Puppy],” client Andi H. muses. She and her husband, Paul, have been faithful clients of Peak City Puppy since 2010, and it’s easy to see why, with dog walkers and sitters like Karen and Denise providing such excellent care to their pooch.
Cliff, dog-dad to two bulldogs, counts on Peak City Puppy when he’s out of town. As a transplant without family nearby, he’s grateful for the extra help. Between bringing in his mail, walking the dogs, and keeping a journal of his dogs’ activities, the team at Peak City Puppy ensures that Cliff doesn’t worry about his dogs when he’s away.
Peak City Puppy’s business model makes dog owners feel that their dogs are the priority. And you might think the reason is simply that Lesley loves dogs—which she does. (As if you needed more proof of that, Lesley donates 1 percent of her profits to local rescue organizations.) But, Lesley says, “I’m not selling as much as aiming to create a relationship with people.” By prioritizing her employees, Lesley has created relationships all over the community. That mentality, by design, has trickled down, enabling Peak City Puppy to build relationships with happy dogs and their happy owners.
Editor’s note: Last names have been omitted from pet sitters and clients at their request.