Today we’d like to introduce you to Kimberli Weeks.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Kimberli. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Four years ago, I was on a beach and noticed a woman running with her dog, both seemingly in their happy place. As a runner and avid animal lover, the thought occurred to me. I wondered if there was such a thing as a dog runner as opposed to a dog walker. After doing research on this idea, I saw no one was taking dog running to a larger scale San Diego audience, and I became motivated. After securing a website, taking a CPR class and becoming insured, I wondered if there was anyone out there willing to take this stranger on to run their dog. Numerous “How to Run With Your Dog” YouTube videos and “practicing” with my friend’s big rescue dogs gave me the confidence to take it on.
Only one year into my business did I realize I was onto something with purpose and my mission grew. I had a ten-pound rescue dog I ran regularly, and he went from terrified of his own shadow, barking at everything and everyone, to realizing he is safe and loved. He grew into his little body and before I knew it, he had large dog confidence. His human cried to me that one day, and it will always stay with me. She said I saved her dog through running, and I realized I made a difference in her life as well.
Fast forward three years and my Veterinarian backed rebranded name of The Fittest Dog continues to grow. The new name exemplifies my mission of the physical and mental benefits of a dog running. I have run rescue dogs, overweight dogs referred to me by their Vet, true running breeds who need more than a dog walker, senior dogs, aggressive dogs needing a positive outlet through regular exercise, working breeds, service dogs and even the most well-behaved dogs living in small spaces. Thousands of dog miles have taught me exercise is a key component to not just a healthy body but a healthy mind as well. Over 56% of America’s dogs are overweight or obese, and I am on a dedicated mission to help lower this statistic, one dog at a time.
On a personal level, my experience as a Division One soccer player has helped in business not just from an endurance perspective, but having to be self-motivated at a young age. This independence continued as a young 20-something who moved, not knowing a soul, to New York City because big city living was calling. Representing charity rescue group, Beagle Freedom Project, at NYC Marathon in 2018 and 2019 (2020 is obviously canceled) is the perfect symbiosis of personal and professional life coming together in the best possible sense, with my family waiting for Mom at the finish line!
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Being the pioneer in any industry has large hurdles, and for me, it was (and still is!) having to educate dog owners on WHY dog running is important for any dog. I have had many people say to me, “It’s a great idea, but my dog isn’t a runner.” There has always been a curiosity to what I do, and my job is to help dog owners change their mindset from leading with a negative about their dog’s fitness level to being open to the idea. Unless a dog is truly unable to walk, they benefit from exercise, even if it is one slow paw in front of the other. We have worked with dogs of all needs with success, but ultimately it is up to the dog owners to trust someone “different” from the traditional dog walker. Once someone sees the impact this has on their dog, they fully believe in our mission. Even hearing a child say to me they “ran their dog”, as opposed to “run WITH my dog,” makes me smile because it’s a term they hear from me, and now it applies to their vocabulary on a daily basis.
Please tell us about The Fittest Dog.
My business, The Fittest Dog, is the active alternative to a dog walker. We pride ourselves in treating each and every dog as if he or she was our own while keeping a constant line of communication open with each owner. We are the opposite of someone who takes leisurely dog walks around the block. We aim to make a difference in the lives of all dogs by introducing them to a one-on-one dog running with constant motivation, similar to a personal trainer. Each dog-obsessed runner on our team is highly driven and an outdoorsy individual. We have even been known to attend weight check-ups for those dogs on our weight loss program and cheer them on alongside their owner when they have lost weight! We are highly invested in our community by being members of our local business association and participate in and donate to charity events.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Choosing a favorite childhood memory is difficult because I had such a full and loving life as a kid. While nothing grand like a memorable family vacation or defining moment, I’d have to say summertime spent with my best friend Mandy is my highlight. We were self-described “late bloomers” who were more interested in the building go-karts, having bake sales to earn money for candy (we have always been entrepreneurs!), going to Padres games, the beach, sleepovers and of course playing soccer and softball together, yet never once attending the same school growing up.
Every one of these memories we both cherish, and now share these stories with our kids as they come into the age she and I were as neighborhood shorty misfits, attached at the hip! This started 34 years ago and is stronger than ever, despite living in separate cities!
- Website: www.thefittestdog.com
- Phone: 760-557-9057
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @thefittestdog
- Facebook: @thefittestdog
Professional Photography by Allison Shamrell