The Pooch Potty Story

From a very young age, I always had a special connection with dogs. Many people thought I should have pursued a career working with animals. In college, I had a part-time job working at a local vet's office and I came to discover something about myself. I was just way too sensitive to work around animals that were sick or in pain. I got very attached to every single dog that I came in contact with,  and I knew I had to find another way to be around animals. This is how I discovered I could make a difference by doing animal rescue work.

My natural ability to caretake and anticipate the needs of others landed me work as a celebrity personal assistant. (Some would say being co-dependent is a negative thing, but I took my own negative trait and turned it into a successful career!)

Back in early 1994, I was working as an assistant by day (and nights and weekends). LOL! Anyone who has known a Los Angeles personal assistant knows that it is a 24/7 job! I vowed that as soon as I had the lifestyle that would be fair to a pet, I would one day have my own dog to love.

During these years, I would jump at the opportunity to dogsit for my employers and their friends, mostly because I missed having a dog in my life. One dog I often took care of was (and still is) one of my most favorite dogs of all time . . . I've come to believe that she isn't so much a dog, as she is a human in a dog suit! Her owners were trying to housetrain her as a puppy and they lived in a high-rise and often couldn't get her on the elevator and outside fast enough before a potty accident would begin.

A dog trainer they were working with suggested they build a box of sod for their balcony. In my own research on this topic, it turns out there are many dog trainers that recommend this very same thing . . . it has been something that people had already been doing for years.

Enter Loy Norrix, who was very handy,  and he built what was to become the very first Pooch Potty box. He built it out of wood and filled it with sod. I remember when I was dog sitting how much easier it was for me (and the puppy) to just go out to the balcony for those late night or very early morning potties.  ( I didn't have to worry about being seen wearing my pajamas in public!)

Picking up the feces daily was common sense, but what we soon discovered was that the urine would kill the sod and it needed to be replaced on an ongoing basis.   So Loy would come over with fresh sod and replace it.  Well, having this box  turned out to be such an amazing  lifestyle change for the humans and doggies alike that other people started to call Loy for a similar arrangement.

Before he knew it, with no advertising, no official phone number (people were calling his home), no business cards and no website . . . he was getting more and more new customers. Loy saw the need, not only for a sod box - but more importantly, for  the valuable sod service that he offered.

More discoveries and innovations came...Loy noticed that the wooden boxes were beginning to rot and that the odor from urine hitting the wood was something  he couldn't get rid of.  He also noticed that some dogs would dig up the sod if they could see any soil exposed on the edges (Wee!  Fun to dig up dirt!)

He began to  work on the designs that would become the modern day Pooch Potty box.  First, a lip was placed  around the box to tuck the sod into.  Then,  corners were rounded on the box, specifically  for the safety of smaller dogs or puppies.  Lastly, the box was to be made sturdy like wood but of a  material that could be easily cleaned. This is how Loy came up with the idea of using sturdy durable plastic.

Loy also had a day job (don't we all start out that way?) and he was pursuing Cinematography. As his career began to take off and he found that he was traveling more, his wife (and my friend, Shannon), would help out while he was away.  But it quickly became clear that the business was going to continue to grow. 

In 2001 Loy proposed to me that I take over his business (then called  Puppy Park).  I was very flattered as I had always loved his idea.  Loy knew he could sell the business to the highest bidder (and I wouldn't be able to afford it) but he decided to sell it to me (for a nominal amount).  Loy did not want to hand over the business to just anyone.  He had spent seven years of his life building it from the ground up and it had great sentimental value.   He knew me well and trusted that I would handle it with care and integrity.  I strive to do that every day.

Loy went on to earn an Emmy Nomination for his Cinematography work on The Amazing Race a
s I took over the reigns of the little dog potty business that could.

Puppy Park became Pooch Potty and I set out to build a brand name by offering an affordable well-made and functional box combined with weekly sod service.  Not everyone who has bought a Pooch Potty box can afford to have their box serviced by us, but I am always more than happy to tell them where they can get their own sod.  I also began to offer a more affordable option called Self Install.  This was designed for customers who were on a budget, yet still wanted to save the time and trip to the nursery,  making a mess in their cars,  to go get sod themselves. The trade off for the savings is that they don't mind cleaning the box and changing the sod themselves.

I also started to donate Pooch Potty boxes to animal rescue organizations as well as P.A.W.S. of L.A. (an AMAZING volunteer organization that assists pet owners while they are dealing with disabling life-threatening or terminal illness). It is my dream that one day Pooch Potty will become a nationwide success so that I can give back to the animal community on a much larger scale.

I also have been lucky enough to see the  real difference Pooch Potty has made in the lives of many dogs and their humans.
Sometimes the day to day struggle and hard work of keeping a small business going makes me feel like I am a little hamster on one of those hamster wheels . . . LOL!  But at the end of the day, it is the happy stories that I hear from my customers that keep me going and make me know I am on the right track.

One elderly woman, who needs the assistance of a walker, told me that for years she had begged her husband to let her get a dog (they live in a condominium). When she found out about Pooch Potty, her husband finally agreed.    They rescued a beautiful little dog and are just absolutely in love.  Not only has it been proven that animal companionship can extend the life of seniors and give them purpose, but in this case, they rescued a dog that might have very well been on her way to doggie death row.  One of the greatest things I've ever seen  is an animal and a human coming  together to change each other's lives!

Another disabled customer of ours, strongly desired  to get a dog, but she lived in an apartment.  This  young girl's disability affected her muscular abilities and she was not able to walk quickly.  Housetraining a puppy is challenging enough for anyone, but it would not have been possible for her to get out the door and down the elevator fast enough.  I set up her initial Pooch Potty box on her balcony, and gave her as many tips as I could on housetraining.  When I went back at a later date to do her sod service, the beaming smile on her face and the well behaved puppy that she had obviously taken great efforts to housetrain - gave me such a euphoric feeling.  I can't even begin to tell you how it affected me on an emotional level.   I still think about it now.

It is truly life changing stories like these, that make it all worthwhile!

My dream is that someday, I will be able to bring Pooch Potty from a small little business with a heart, to a household brand name with a heart.  I want to be able to give back by offering programs for the handicapped and senior citizens who deserve to have a dog to hold and to love!  I am on my way there . . . one Pooch Potty dog at a time!

Much love and WOOFS to all of the doggies that you care for!

Cathy Stanley