Susan and I totally loved our Lizzie (The Best Dog Ever). We always sought the best dog sitter for her. But, when we came to Spain, it took us almost nine months before we found Laura. She's a a soft spoken soul who is fully in harmony with the way of the dog — boisterous dogs, shy dogs, puppies, abuelitas like our Lizzie — all dogs. Lizzie loved her. Susan and I still do.
Laura’s Compassionate Nature Arose Early
What I find amazing is that Laura’ s commitment to our canine companions comes despite a harrowing experience when she was only eight years old. That’s the year Laura so wanted to befriend the large Argentinian Dogo her neighbor kept chained in the yard. One day she ran ahead of her mother to play with the dog. Instead, the dog ended up mauling her severely enough to require a hospital visit. On the way home with her leg in a cast and stitches in her head, Laura worried about what would happen to the dog. When her mother told her the dog was to be euthanized and she also gently admonished her, explaining how Laura was partly to blame for approaching a chained and fearful dog.
Try to imagine what that conversation with her mother was like. Laura’s mother turned a situation that must have been painful and traumatizing for an eight-year-old and lovingly taught Laura a lesson that inspired a life-long devotion to the well-being of animals.
A Life and Business with Love
Now that she’s an adult, Laura provides kennel free home stays, walks, and training for dogs through her business, Canimals. Laura builds a great relationship with the dogs in her care. Susan and I never worried when Lizzie was with Laura. The rapport shared by those two gentle souls was so obvious.
But her business is based on more than fond feelings for our dog buddies. When Laura decided on a career with dogs she took training with dog behavior specialists in Valencia, Madrid, and Castellon de la Plana but dropped out of any class that advocated choke collars, electric shock collars or other harsh training methods.
About nine years ago she found Turid Rugaas, a Norwegian trainer of pet dog trainers with an international following. Turid conducted a year long class in Barcelona and Laura traveled the three or four hours from Valencia to Barcelona every weekend for the entire year. Laura was particularly attracted to Turid’s documentation of the calming signals that dogs use to communicate with each other and humans.
In 2020 Laura and her family — husband Ovi, cats Apollo, Ares, Suri, and Zeus and dogs Yanko and Nikki — moved to a new house on a four acre property about 30 minutes by car from Valencia. She’s looking forward to the time when they can build a huge wading and swimming pool so dogs can enjoy safe and supervised water time.
I’m a bit envious of Laura. She found her way to a compassionate calling early in life. She had the good fortune to have an extraordinary mentor in her mother and the intelligence to seek out a special instructor in Turid. She’s grown into one of the most genuinely and thoroughly gentle livelihoods I’ve ever had the good fortune to encounter. Her kindness radiates. I am so grateful to have shared Lizzie with her. If I were a dog I’d want no other companion than Laura.
Jamie wants “life on gentle cycle” to be a story of enough rather than a search for more. His focus is on simplicity, quiet presence, low impact travel, and mostly on living gently. He also manages the technical aspects of GentleCycle.net