Tracy James

It was just like Lady and the Tramp, or so I'm told. After all, I was only two years old at the time. There was a whimpering box under the tree and inside a golden retriever puppy. Right off the bat we had a lot in common: a lack of coordination, the need to put our mouths on everything, and an inability to hold our bladders. Needless to say, my bond with Sandy (named after the dog in Annie), was immediate. All jokes aside, she was my best friend for sixteen years and our friendship inspired my love of animals.

It wasn't until my third year of college, and far from the unconditional support of Ginger, my family's next four-legged family member, that I discovered my interest in health and fitness. I started walking on a regular basis to get away from the computer and relieve stress. Having never been very physically active in the past, I was surprised to find I enjoyed walking so much that, in time, I started walking longer and faster, eventually progressing to running. Over summer break, I kept the momentum and walked and ran with Ginger. It was so wonderful taking control of my well-being with my best friend who was also benefiting from activity.

As I transitioned into the working world, I never lost sight of the impact and joy animals and activity brought to my life. Not yet able to have my own dog (darn you work schedule!), I began volunteering at a local city shelter. I quickly gained respect as an experienced, trustworthy dog handler and even taught other volunteers how to handle and train the shelter dogs. It was both heart breaking and tremendously rewarding work.

Then, in 2010, I had transitioned into another profession and couldn't take living without a dog a second longer. So, I finally adopted my own dog from the shelter, a beautiful Belgian Malinois mix, Berlin. At this same time my fitness regime had progressed and I was participating in full and half marathons. Soon my favorite part about participating in a race was not crossing the finish line but training with my best buddy. Berlin and I have even walked and ran in several 5Ks and 10Ks together.

All of this made me realize I wanted to help others have it all too. So, I earned by dog training and fitness instruction certifications and now combine and share these skills in the various services that Feet & Paws offers. It is such an honor helping people and their dogs be healthy and happy together.

*For great bios, photos, and videos of the wonderful animals available for adoption at North Central Shelter visit https://www.facebook.com/northcentralshelter

or for a list of the animals from all six L.A. Animal Service Shelters visit www.laanimalservices.com


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