Meet our Team!
Meet Rebecca! Our all-knowing Office Manager comes to Smart Paws from nearby Des Plaines, IL and moved to the city to study at DePaul in 2009. On the rare occasion Rebecca leaves her cozy Smart Paws desk she loves to walk a doggo who lives just around the corner, Winnie. Winnie is pretty notorious for causing adorable mayhem on her walks, and one day the big girl was convinced she had found the perfect stick. The stick was a pretty tricky one though - it didn't seem to want to come with Winnie and Rebecca. Turns out the stick was actually a root to a nearby tree, and that thing wasn't going anywhere. You live and you learn, kiddo.
Aside from chatting up Smart Paws clients on the phone and keeping tabs on our dog walkers, Rebecca likes going to concerts, running, reading, and cooking.
Meet Melissa! Melissa comes to Chicago by way of Boston, with a pit stop in Ithaca, NY where she went to college. She's been living it up in Chicago for the past four years with her husband and their dog, Lola (pictured above)!
Lola is a total goober, at 1 1/2 years old she pretty much has the energy of 500 puppies squished into one! Of course she's never met a stranger, and has NO idea that she only weighs 22 pounds. Needless to say, Melissa is well versed in handling pups that are handfuls!
When she's not playing with Lola (ahh, if only we could all stay at home with our pets all day), she's managing the ENTIRE Smart Paws walking team - and sometimes that means picking up a walk or two! One day while she was walking Calvin down LaSalle they walked past his TOTALLY PERFECT doppelganger. Both dogs stopped about 10 feet from each other and intensely locked eyes- as if they knew they were twins separated at birth. Yeah, we're talking some serious Parent Trap shenanigans y'all. Obviously, it was hilarious to all the humans involved in the scenario...it felt like a long lost love scene in a movie, but between two Shih Tzu's (someone get to writing the script for this, I sense a blockbuster in the making!). It took a few more blocks of walking before Calvin could handle the distress of losing his twin/soulmate but we're sure he'll move on eventually..
Outside of Smart Paws Melissa spends a lot of time Lola (duh) and really enjoys working on obedience and training with her! The two are even working towards getting a Canine Good Citizen certification- so watch out world. She's also super interested in animal behavioral science and loves learning about the theory and application of animal training and domestication. In addition to all that fancy mumbo-jumbo she also enjoys baking, hanging out with her husband and friends, and crafting old school cocktails!
Owen joins the Smart Paws team from Grand Rapids, Michigan. When asked who his favorite pup to walk was, Owen nearly imploded from trying to pick - but decided his connection with Champ was just TOO real to ignore. They're both HUGE Batman fans (Owen rocks a Batman hat while Champ rocks a Batman collar), and they're both willing to eat just about anything! Okay, thank god Owen draws the line at poo though. LOOKING AT YOU CHAMP! Gross, dude. Despite this, Owen and Champ have become fast friends.
Outside of Smart Paws, Owen enjoys comedy writing and acting! He spent three years performing as part of his college's improv troupe, and occasionally dabbles in stand up. When he's not walking dogs like a pro or making people laugh like a pro he's probably binge watching Netflix and drinking unhealthy amounts of coffee. No judgement, Owen, no judgement. Here, Owen is pictured alongside his childhood pup.
Add some more info about this item...
Courtney is from a small town in Northwestern Indiana, and like everyone who lives in Northwestern Indiana - she chose to move to the city because, duh! Outside of working for Smart Paws she enjoys a plethora of activities that sound like they belong to about 7 different people (she likes to keep busy, no judgement). She cooks and bakes (wife her?!), hangs with friends, gets caught up in the YouTube hole that is makeup tutorials, plays disc golf, cosplays, and of course snuggles with her kitties pictured above.
If she HAD to pick a favorite pup to walk she'd have to go with Huck, hands down. Not only is he the sweetest and happiest boy, but he also reminds Courtney of her first ever dog, Mocha, who was a chocolate lab. We carry those first pets with us forever!
Kim comes to us from nearby Carol Stream, IL but is a happy (yet jaded during Cubs season) resident of Lakeview now! One of Kim's regulars, Georgie, is an old fart of a pup who lives downtown in heart of the Mag Mile! The first time Kim walked Georgie he was SO about it, looking back at her and smiling, running around the block - but as she came to walk him each day he got slower and slower... Quite the power play of laziness, Georgie. Mad respect.
Outside of Smart Paws you can find her managing and being freaky fast making sandwiches at the Jimmy Johns in Wrigley! Or when she's not at work she's most likely with her fiancé watching Netflix, making plans for future trips & adventures, or taking a ride on his motorcycle.
Meet Greg, Greg is another one of our home grown sitters, coming from the Bridgeport area of Chicago. Greg is all about bonding with each and every dog he walks (including Crazy Castiel pictured above), but when a dog loves you off the the bat that just makes the job ten times easier! Snap is one of Greg's regulars, and this fluffy girl rolls over for a belly rub as soon as Greg walks in the room. The pre-walk belly rub has become a daily ritual for these two, and they wouldn't have it any other way!
Greg enjoys watching movies, swimming, and watching sports when he's not working - namely basketball. In his own words, "I'm a die hard Bulls fan!"
Miles comes to the Smart Paws team from Troy, MI. One of Miles's favorite Smart Paws moments was when he got to walk a puppy who was quite new to the world. Miles is 99% sure he got to witness the moment where the puppy first recognized his own reflection! The two were trotting along, and suddenly he just pulled into a dead stop. It didn't take Miles long to notice that he was held rapt by a window, in which seemed to be an exact replica of himself - doing exactly what he was doing! Miles was so honored to have been involved in such a formative moment in that little guys life!
When he's not blowing puppies minds on the daily - you can find Miles playing bass and guitar in his band called Sir Mango!
Molly joins Smart Paws from the suburb of Algonquin. She recently graduated with her Master's in Psychology, so when she's not interning at an elementary school or studying she's working for us and perhaps even psychoanalyzing your pup because WHY NOT? She has a pet of her own as well, a cat named Panama, who she unequivocally admits she obsesses over. Molly adopted her from a shelter where she was given the name Panama, and had thought about changing her name but as soon as she turned on the radio in the car with the cat in tow, Van Halen's song "Panama" blasted from the speakers, right at the chorus. Molly isn't one to mess with divine interference, so obviously the name Panama remained!
Molly's favorite Smart Paws pet has to be Oliver the cat, considering he's the LARGEST cat she's ever seen and he's a total cuddlebug! Oliver stole Molly's heart shortly after he fell asleep in her lap at a visit. There's no faster way to a girls heart than having a giant, fluffy cat purring louder than a motor in her lap, right?!
Meet Jorie Perlman. Jorie is from Buffalo Grove, but now lives in Smart Paws territory - AKA Wrigleyville. Jorie has many regular clients that she walks everyday, but Barli, the gentle giant Bernese Mountain dog is one of her favorites. One rainy day while walking Barli, the two noticed a squirrel off in the distance. Barli is generally a slow, lumbering lady (it's hard to be a big dog, fa sho), but of course right as Jorie looked down to change the song she was listening to Barli JETTED off toward the squirrel. Jorie was pulled along with Barli - along with a huge golf-sized umbrella in her right hand, and her phone and the leash in her left hand - and both were sent tumbling in the mud! Was the squirrel worth it Barli, WAS IT? Needless to say, Barli will not be underestimated ever again.
When Jorie isn't going sprinting with Barli, she loves going to concerts and music festivals. She spends a lot of time listening to her dad's old records and cooking, and is currently applying for grad schools to pursue her Masters in Counseling Psychology!
Need a dog walker, or maybe also someone your pet can talk to about their feelings? Jorie is your girl
Add some more info about this item...
Shiloh joins us ALLLL the way from Tulsa, OK (where the wind comes sweeping down the plains, etc.). In her off time she's usually playing video games or reading, but she also moonlights with a few theatre companies around town! When asked who her favorite Smart Paws pupper to walk was, she struggled but HAD to go with big girl Barli! She's the biggest, softest baby and she's really snagged Shiloh's heart. When Shiloh first started walking her and her brother Chance (short for Chance the Crapper), Chance was always the first one to the gate and Barli would just watch from the couch. Now Barli is the welcoming committee! She turns in circles and flops down against whoever enters, looking up with smiles, and better yet - she loves holding hands. When she's doing what most Bernese do and really doesn't feel like walking, the two just lay on the ground in the sun soaking up rays together. Is your heart melted yet? Ours is.
Mackenzie comes to us from Michigan! In addition to providing seriously hefty TLC for our pets, she's also running her own YouTube channel (@ALostReader if you want to creep) and working like crazy to get her degree in Creative Writing. If she HAD to choose a Smart Paws favorite, which no one should ever have to do but alas, for the sake of these bios we must - she'd pick Simon! Big Simon is a giant puppy Newfoundland, and tbh Mackenzie could probably hitch a ride on him if both parties consented. His personality is just as big as he is! Pictured above is Mackenzie's own pupperoni, Roxy!
Meet Gina! Gina is our homegrown Night and Weekend Field Manager - coming from the neighborhood of Mayfair Park. Gina the G has been walking one of our tiniest and oddly named pups since the beginning - Shoelace. Shoelace and Gina have a bond that's hard to break, mainly because that bond is Gina's hair in Shoelace's mouth. Shoelace LOVES chewing and Gina is trying to grow out her hair - basically they're a match made in heaven.
In addition to being a human chew toy, Gina volunteers at her local church and works with the blind and visually impaired by hellping them learn to live on their own. On the real though, when Gina isn't saving lives she enjoys eating large pizzas and not going to the gym afterwards.
Amanda, our Social Media Manager, comes to Smart Paws alllll the way from Texas. She moved to Chicago after graduating from college to pursue her career in dance, and is now doing that as well as welcoming all the new Smart Paws clients into the family on the daily.
One day Amanda was out doing a late walk downtown in Trump Tower for a cutie named Atticus. After the walk Atticus was reunited with his mom back on the 33rd floor, but as Amanda tried to leave, she couldn't! Someone on the 60th floor had flooded their apartment and it was leaking all the way down to the ground floor! Mayhem ensued, the elevators were shut down. Since Amanda couldn't leave, Atticus' family invited Amanda to hang out and play fetch with all the neighbors outside in the hallway gossiping about the fool that flooded their apartment. All was well, and Atticus got some extra playtime.
When she's not making pithy Facebook posts for work, you can find her performing with local dance company - Khecari, or canoodling with her very large human-faced cat named Dixon.
That's right, Scaletta. You may recognize that last name because Gina, our Night and Weekend Manager is her big sister! What can we say, their love for the pups runs in their blood. Like her sister, Gillian was born and raised in Chicago.
Outside of work, Gillian is interested in sculpture and contemporary art. But mainly, she bores her friends with stories about the dogs she walks! In particular, she has had the pleasure of watching over our favorite foursome - Minnie, Coal, Payson, and Winston. Each of the four dogs definitely has their own distinct personality, but Gillian loves how Payson has started a ritual of sitting on the porch and watching Gillian and the other three dogs play! He just likes to look down upon his peasants, that's all.
Michelle comes to Smart Paws from Elburn, IL. She's currently a junior in Communications and Marketing at DePaul, and hopes to get into the beauty industry after school! When she's not busy with the aforementioned hustling you can probably find her binge watching some Netflix or exploring the city like any self-respecting student in the city.
Her favorite Smart Paws pup to walk HAS to be Shoelace. Not just because of her magnificent name either; The Shoe has the sweetest/quirkiest smile and the most fun-loving personality. Watching her run around the dog park with tennis ball in tow would warm even the coldest of hearts!
Add some more info about this item...
Lauren is a Chicago lifer, born and raised in the city. In addition to working with our Smart Paws pets she ALSO moonlights as an Animal Care Specialist at the Shedd Aquarium. I promise I'm not kidding, she legitimately works with the penguins and otters! What a dream. In her animal-less time she's usually reading (she re-reads the Harry Potter series at least once a year, NO SHAME!), or at the lake swimming or paddle boarding.
Lauren's favorite Smart Paws partner in crime is Daphne Gallizo! Not only is Daphne a crazy, lanky, wacko (who kind of looks strangely like a deer?) - she also melts Lauren's heart when she finds a stick that is particularly exciting. Lauren also likes Daphne because she more than likely reminds her of her own family pup, pictured above. Ranger is her INCREDIBLY spoiled 100 lb lap dog, who currently boasts a collection of about 30 beloved plush toys. Whatta life.
Kelly has been in the city for a few years now, but originally hails from Milwaukee. When Kelly isn't helping us take care of our adorable furry clients, she's studying to become a surgical tech! Intense, we know. She's not just in it for the slice and dicing though - she's hoping the study will inform her work as an artist and poet! She enjoys writing poetry and documenting the pleasures found in ordinary life, being active outdoors, and hanging out with her adorable cat named William (pictured above).
When asked to choose a favorite Smart Paws pet she struggled a bit - they're all so wonderful! But her Myspace Top Four would HAVE to be Rosie, Helo, Huck and Bear. Little baby Rosie Rooney the corgi just fills everyone's heart with love, Helo is a blast and a half, Huck is so sweet it hurts, and Bear is such a riot!
Olivia joins the Smart Paws team from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She recently had her very first Chicago anniversary! She left behind her childhood home complete with three dogs coming here, so working with dogs was absolutely NECESSARY for her! When she isn't working for us and getting her fill of cuddles, you can find her killing her level five courses over at the iO Theater. She's also currently in rehearsals for Odd's Bodkins' production of Macbeth, where she plays all the young folks (Fleance, Donalbain, and Macduff's son). Can you say #FAMOUS?
Of course Olivia loves all her Smart Paws babes, but if she had to pick a favorite it'd be a toss up between Rebel the goldendoodle, Jakob (our newest Rottie puppy!), and Missy. In her own words, "they exude happiness and love". Clearly, Olivia is living her best life out here!
In addition to being a great sitter for us, Aaron is also Editor in Chief of Ruby Hornet, so we'll let him tell you guys a bit about himself since he is LITERALLY a professional writer:
"I was born and raised in southeast Michigan and have lived in Chicago for about five years now. Currently I live in Rogers Park. There are quite a few dogs on my 'coveted Smart Paws walk' list but none have the effect on me that Henry and Tucker do. Firstly, Tucker gazes at you with these eyes that suggest he may actually be a person trapped in there. His face is incredibly emotive and his expressions are so nuanced and complex. Between that and his fabulous orange, salon-quality curls, he's got me under his spell. What cracks me up with his brother Henry is his transformation from tough-guy enforcer guard-dog into a sweet, defenseless baby in your arms as you carry him for the elevator ride down. Both of their personas play off with of each other in a way that's really more captivating and hilarious with each walk.
I'm working as the editor-in-chief for a publication called Ruby Hornet. Content-wise we cover music, entertainment and culture. Working for Smart Paws has provided a great way to offset that job for me. After making extensive edits and/or writing for hours on end, unwinding and getting outside with these animals can be genuinely therapeutic mentally."
Liz joins the Smart Paws family all the way from Cincinnati, Ohio! She graduated with a degree in Electronic Media; and has had some seriously dope jobs including working for a pro football team, a minor league baseball team, a news station, a school district, a megachurch, and being a camera person for the Big East (at Xavier, DePaul, and Marquette) and Northwestern. Clearly after all that, what was left but to become a dog walker?
Liz loves spending her days with a few of her closest furry friends, and thoroughly enjoys all the little routines that come along with the job: Cooper greets her with his toy squirrel and they go visit the crazy-looking neighborhood chickens, Sherlock and Watson humor her in doing goofy things that she can turn into a daily mystery in their end of walk report, Daphne makes every walk a hilarious adventure to find the biggest stick, Roscoe sits on the floor and demands belly rubs before the walk, and Colby makes Liz hold a stick above her head and run around like a crazy woman!
Ryan hails from the Northwest Suburb, Algonquin. In addition to being an awesome walker and pet sitter for us, Ryan also works in various capacities in the Chicago film industry! You can find him doing archiving or project management at the Chicago Film Festival, or making his own work for his Vimeo account: https://vimeo.com/ryansaunders
When he's not busy working on fancy films, Ryan loves coming to Smart Paws and walking May! She reminds him of his childhood dog, in how she only wants to cuddle and is slightly terrified of everything. Even when things seem to be going smoothly a garbage truck will bounce and send her running back home. But Ryan is a lover, and totally doesn't mind carrying her around the corner to keep it going!
Kei joins Smart Paws by way of Saint Louis, Missouri. We'd like to think he moved to our beautiful city to pursue his dream of being a world-class dog walker, but this is only secondary to his acting career. When he isn't living his life like all the world's a stage, you can find him fiending for sushi wherever possible.
Thus far Kei's favorite pups to walk have been the lovely duo that is Monty and Hound. For those who don't know this backstory - Monty and Hound recently moved here ALLLL the way from Australia. Hound is a large and seemingly intimidating Greyhound, and Monty is his tiny whippet therapy dog! No joke, Monty will literally check on Hound and calm him down by sniffing his long snout as they walk. Talk about heartwarming!
Jacob is a native Chicagoan, joining us from the West Ridge area of the city. Unironically, once he's off work you can probably catch him at home with his own ball of furry love pictured above, Kai! But maybe don't try to catch him at home because that's creepy and boundaries are important, ya know? Although he also has been diving into the world of cooking as of late - so that plus the cute kitten might be reason enough for forced entry into your dog walkers home; who's to say.
Every walker has their favorite clients and for Jacob it's hands down GOTTA be Leo Sexton. Leo is a big goofy yellow lab mix full of love and endless energy that'd brighten even the dreariest, coldest Chicago day. The first time Jacob met Leo he was greeted with a nice slobbery hug - and who doesn't love those??