One of Us: Jennifer Dew

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What can you share about your background?

I was born in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, raised in Greensboro, North Carolina, and have two older brothers. I graduated from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 1998 and received my Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, Marketing. I was also an NCAA Division I Lady Volunteer Varsity Rower for Tennessee. I moved to the Jacksonville area from Atlanta back in 2000 and fell in love with our beaches community. I rented a little duplex by the sea in Neptune Beach and decided I could never be landlocked again! I married Mark in 2003 and we purchased our first home here in Ponte Vedra Beach in 2004. We couldn’t imagine our lives anywhere else; and I can truly say that no matter where we travel to, we love coming home more.

 

Have you always had pets?

Yes. I’ve felt a special connection with animals my entire life. I grew up going to the farm just about every day and riding horses, and there wasn’t a time when my family didn’t open our home to a dog or cat in need of rescuing. For me, a house just doesn’t feel like a home without a pet. Just before Mark and I got married, we rescued our cat, Otis, and our dog, Pete. We raised Pete for 14 years and Otis is still kickin’ it at 17! I truly believe our pets are a gift from God and each of them finds a unique way to bless and inspire our lives.

 

What inspired you to launch 9 to 5 Pets?

For 20 years I worked in sales, marketing and business development for both the corporate and nonprofit sectors. During that time, I experienced the pressure of trying to make time for it all in a “9 to 5” day. As devoted a pet parent as I wanted to be, there were times, unfortunately, when Pete and Otis got the “short end of the stick” when early meetings, deadlines and business travel pulled me away. I’ve always believed the sky is the limit when you dream big, believe in yourself and work hard. We CAN have it all, but I’ve learned it can be hard to manage it all. And the last thing we want to feel is guilty about not giving our furry companions the love and attention they deserve. Or worse still, stress when we’ve left them too long or have to leave them behind. In this busy 9 to 5 world, we can all use a helping hand; and so in 2017 I was inspired to find my JOY, follow my passion, and launch 9 to 5 Pets to help bring a professional, dependable, and easy-to-use pet care service to the people and pets in this community that I love and can certainly relate to.

 

How has the original concept evolved or how has technology changed the business model or services offered to clients?

Like many businesses back in the day, client records and pet records were kept on paper. Reservations were made by phone. Clients would have to wonder and worry if you were really there for their pets and how long you actually stayed with them. Visit notes (if any) were handwritten by the sitter/walker and left on the kitchen counter. And clients would have to pay via cash or check and leave it behind for the sitter or walker to collect. The technology that is now available to pet care professionals has allowed us to serve our clients more efficiently, with greater excellence and with far more transparency. At 9 to 5 Pets, we have a secure online client portal and free mobile app service where our clients enjoy the convenience of quickly and easily updating their client and pet information, scheduling our services, communicating with their 9 to 5 Pets team, and easily making payments either with a credit card or through Paypal. And they receive peace of mind (along with a few smiles and laughs) from the notes and pictures we send them after each visit, along with GPS and time tracking data so they can always rest assured that we are there and caring for their pets. Our time with our clients’ pets is pure JOY and it's wonderful to see how technology has allowed that JOY to shine through to our clients. It truly makes it a "win-win!"

 

It seems the human bond with furry friends is more valuable than ever. Do you agree? Why or why not?

The bond we share with our pets IS special; and through their love and constant companionship we get to experience what it truly feels like to be unconditionally loved. That's a gift. So, it makes me smile to see more and more people opening their hearts and homes to furry companions; because there are so many animals in need of loving homes, and we are all deserving of this special kind of love. Pets DO enrich our lives and there is no doubt in my mind that every household could benefit from their companionship. 

 

How does volunteering enrich your life?

When we volunteer we say "yes" to serving a need greater than ourselves, which I believe is an important and humbling practice. Volunteering has given me the gift of perspective and reminds me that we all face different challenges and we all hold different strengths. And when we take the time to offer up our strengths in order to help someone who is in need, we create more space in their world and in ours for happiness, joy and gratitude to set in and thrive.

 

I'll always be grateful to my mom for teaching me the value of volunteering at a very young age. She used to deliver Mobile Meals and I would ride along and help her. I remember how good it felt to know I was brightening someone's day not just by delivering a meal, but by saying "hello," sitting down to visit for a bit, and offering them a little companionship in their day. I learned that sometimes it's not all about the immediate need you are serving. My mom's background was in Special Education; and so while I was growing up, she would help both children and adults who had disabilities with pool therapy. And so when I moved to Jacksonville and was looking for volunteer opportunities, I was introduced to the Brooks Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program and was able to understand and relate to their mission immediately. I met and fell in love with all their program participants and was humbled to see how every individual was hit with a different and unexpected curveball in their life. They each had their unique challenges. And what I learned and came to love the most was to see how the participants were not just benefitting physically from the activities, but collectively they could be there for one another, to help each other through whatever challenge or hardship they were facing. Collectively, they could empower one another to keep pushing forward and believing in the possibilities for their lives. We all need this, and it's wonderful to see Brooks growing their Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program in order to promote this type of healing. And so, although I was there to help the participants ambulate physically, it was their smiles, hugs, and willful spirits that left me smiling and feeling inspired. No that's the true gift of volunteering with Brooks!

 

What is your favorite part about living in Ponte Vedra Beach? (I do not have your home address, so you may amend to Ponte Vedra “area.”)

The natural beauty, wildlife, and peaceful community of Ponte Vedra Beach is what we love the most and what drew us in 15 years ago.

 

If you have a bucket list, what’s the most recent item you crossed off?

Seeing Kenny Chesney and the Rolling Stones in concert. I LOVE music and was thrilled to see Jacksonville on both their tour schedules this year. They rocked it and were no doubt born to be singers and performers. It was great to witness their passion and energy live.

 

If you had to spend $10,000 today, how would you spend it?

My husband would love a boat, so I bet I'd have a hard time talking him into anything else if all of a sudden we had $10,000 to spend...LOL!

 

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