Kim Hunter: From Dental Assistant to Animal Behavior Consultant.
Why did you make your latest transition?
I was a dental assistant for 28 years, and I realized during the last couple of them that I wasn’t happy anymore. I had been also working in an animal shelter and I realized it was a passion, but what I didn’t realize was that I could make money at it. I got the kick in the pants I needed when I took a 9-month course in animal behavior at the University of Washington, Professional & Continuing Education. It was scary and challenging and I thought I might fail, but all of a sudden I could see another path.
What are you doing now?
After I got my Certificate in Applied Animal Behavior, I started my own small business doing pet sitting, training and behavior consulting. My schedule is varied. Holidays are super busy for pet sitting because people go away. I also have training clients and drop-in animal daycare and I take calls to consult on an as-needed basis.
What surprised you most about the transition?
I didn’t realize how lonely and isolating it was at first. I was used to seeing people all day, but when you stop being part of the workforce it’s an adjustment. You’re just home or at someone else’s house with their animals. I only see people when I train their animals with them. I have learned that I have to work harder to meet people, but the ones I do meet are high quality. They are my kind of people because they love animals.
How did you decide to pursue these opportunities?
People in my program were already doing training with dogs. I was invited to go with them on behavior consultations and I began to see opportunities popping up. First it was pet sitting and then other things coming out of the woodwork. I was afraid these chances would go away if I didn’t leap. Also, I want to be part of a solution that keeps animals out of shelters. Being a fear-free, positive reinforcement trainer is my way of doing that.
What advice would you give to someone in the same circumstances?
Go with your gut, follow your heart. Life is too short to wait. Just do it even though it’s scary.
Special: Given your vast experience both professionally and personally, do you have a top 5 or 10 list of things that you would tell people if they would like to follow in your footsteps or follow a similar path?
-Get your business stuff (bank, structure, paperwork) in order before you start.
-If you don’t already know, learn how to network.
-Always have business cards with you.
-Listen to people and connect with them about your business area.
-Find the right mentor.
-Be a mentor when you get enough knowledge (I’m not there yet!).
Kim Hunter worked for 28 years as a dental assistant before starting Pawsitive Attitudes, Canine, Cats & Critters (@pak9cc on Facebook) in Woodinville, Washington. She is the proud humom of three cats, a dog, seven chickens and a bunny.