DogWatch Hidden Fences of ColumbusDog Tails interview with Emily West, DogWatch Hidden Fences of Columbus. Emily and Pat West have been DogWatch Hidden Fence dealers since 1992.

DT: You’ve been a DogWatch dealer for the past seventeen years—what’s your most poignant training experience working with a family and their dog?

EW: Don’t know that there is one particular story that really sticks with us. But the most poignant and satisfying thing is when we run into one of our customers and are greeted with a big hug and they tell us something like “You guys are the reason my dog is alive” or “You have saved my dogs life so many times, I can’t thank you enough.” It is the most satisfying and fantastic feeling in the world to know that you have meant that much to that family. It makes us know what we do is really important to families and their dogs.

DT: What’s your funniest story?

EW: Pat and I differ on our favorite stories. Mine has to do with a pot-belly pig that he trained, but Pat says it isn’t relevant because it isn’t a dog story. If you’d like it anyway, I’d be happy to share.

Pat’s favorite and funniest training story happened several years ago when we got a call that a dog was leaving the yard. The customer didn’t explain over the phone and just asked us to come out as we had to “see” the problem. So when Pat got there, the customer brought him into the kitchen and let the dog out. Pat watched from the window as the big Great Pyrenees proceeded to “walk” on his two back legs right through the fence, all the while making sure his neck and collar stayed above the level of the range of the fence. It was an easy fix as once the range was a bit higher the dog could no longer go through without correction, but it was quite the amazing circus act.

DT: People often have strong personal biases about whether to get a purebred dog, a mixed breed–and some have strong personal preferences for going with a rescue dog? How would you guide people with these decisions?

EW: Regarding pure bred, mixed breed or rescue dogs. Pat and I do have strong feelings about this, but it may not be what you think. Obviously, we feel it’s important to rescue dogs and we’ll always support our local rescues, shelters and Humane Societies.

However, we feel that it’s equally important to get a dog that is well matched to your life style. For instance, we NEVER recommend that anyone gets a dog simply because “it’s cute”. We always encourage people to do research regarding whatever type of breed or mix. Size, shedding, exercise, barking tendencies, temperament around other dogs, temperament around children, and digging habits are all important aspects to look at. And people need to be honest with themselves about what they are willing or not willing to do for a dog before they pick one out.

If people do the necessary research BEFORE they get a dog, Pat and I feel many fewer dogs would end up in shelters. And keeping dogs out of shelters is just as important as rescuing them once they are in shelters.

DT: We’ve noticed that DogWatch of Columbus has many online presences e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Blog, LinkedIn. What interested you in having social media presences? How has it worked for communicating with clients, prospects and others in your industry?

EW: We are very involved in Social Media with our business. We have a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube account that we are active on. We also have a blog that is located directly on our website and we do monthly newsletters.

We feel it’s important to have a social media presence in our business. It allows us to stay in front of our customers and be active in their day to day lives. With a purchase like a hidden fence, there are going to be questions, concerns and stories to share. We wanted to give our customers a voice and make it a conversation. What easier way to do that than Facebook and Twitter?

Facebook and Twitter also allow us to meet new and potential customers or just dog lovers in general. You Tube allows us to share pertinent information regarding our equipment and training, as well as share those fun-loving videos that dog lovers enjoy. LinkedIn shows are professional side and gives recommendations to those people that may be looking for our services.

We use our blog to share general knowledge, communicate with our customers and potential customers, and share heart-warming stories. Dogs are such an important part of peoples lives, we want to capitalize on that and help give relevant and pertinent info to people regarding their dogs.

We see social media as a way to give our business a personal touch; a chance to show that we really care about our business, our customers and just dogs in general. A website it great, but it is so stagnant and unchanging. Social media allows us to talk about the snow storm that happened last night or the “Bark for Life” Cancer event happening this morning. Not to mention that customer that is dealing with issues regarding her diabetic dog or the “three-legged wonder dog” we met last week. People have similar issues, concerns and questions. Why not put vehicles in place to address them all at once?

We have been involved with Social Media for about 6 months and although it is a lot of work to set up and maintain, it has been totally worth it. We love the feedback we get from our customers and the ability to stay in constant contact has been invaluable. We definitely see our business prospering from our involvement and it has given us renewed energy for new ideas and networking regarding our business

DT: Its been said that it takes a village to raise a child. What in your opinion does it take to raise a dog?

EW: To raise a dog you mainly need time, love, and patience. Dogs are the most undemanding, forgiving and selfless creatures created. They will never demand these things of you, but you owe it to them for their unwavering devotion and unconditional love.

DT: Emily, thanks so much for sharing! Maybe next time you’ll tell us about the pot-belly pig— you’ve certainly piqued our curiosity!

Pat and Emily West are residents of Hilliard, Ohio and have two little girls, Maggie and Genevieve, and a much loved four legged pal, Potter, a black and silver Miniature Schnauzer.  The whole family is happily involved with DogWatch as you may hear on the phone or encounter on a service call.