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Barbara Schwerdt

Barbara has been around animals as long as she can remember, beginning with her childhood in upstate New York. There she was raised among a succession of several dogs ranging from a Chihuahua to a Spaniel to Saint Bernards. Even then, she had a hunch that some day she would somehow be working with animals, though it would be in a roundabout manner.

She later studied Sign Language Interpreting at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., before moving to California in 1985. Several years later, she earned her Bachelor's Degree in Deaf Studies, with a minor in Gerontology, from California State University at Northridge. When she began working with Deaf Senior Citizens at an affordable housing community in Los Angeles, an opportunity arose that allowed her to combine two of her interests: sign language interpreting and dog training. A deaf resident in the community where she was an administrator was taking a class that would certify her Miniature Pinscher as a signal dog. The class needed an interpreter, so Barbara volunteered to do this, while observing the specialized training that these dogs received. It was at this point that she was encouraged by her husband Gerry to actively pursue a career in training service dogs, and teaching their new owners how to work with them.

Soon after, she, along with her supportive husband, bought a house and acquired four dogs and two cats in addition to the two cats that she already owned. In addition, she became involved in rescuing cats, kittens, dogs, and puppies, and also raised a puppy for Guide Dogs of America (a not-for-profit organization providing Guide Dogs to blind people free of charge). She applied all of this experience to both the care of her own animals, and eventually to her pet-sitting clients’ animals as well.

Barbara began house & pet-sitting in December 1986 and has done so since then. Then, in 1992 when she met her (now) husband, Gerry, they started caring for a handful of clients’ pets, and as word of mouth advertising began to spread, soon found themselves with a client list of close to 40 names. Barbara is an active member of the Namaste Interfaith Center, and currently works as a trainer of administrators who run affordable housing communities like the one she used to work at. She hopes to one day combine this human training experience, her dog training experience, and her sign language skills to training service dogs as aids for hearing impaired and physically challenged people. In the meantime, she is keeping busy doing the scheduling, billing, and dog walking for her pet sitting business, helping out husband Gerry when the pace gets hectic. Barbara is excited to be a part of the growing industry of pet-sitting!

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