Boss B*tch is a series featuring female entrepreneurs and their dogs. We're celebrating their accomplishments, and the dogs that keep them company along the way.
Nora Jenkins Townson is the founder of Bright and Early, a HR consultancy that works with creative, tech, and startup companies across Canada and the US. Essentially, Bright and Early is a resource for companies that can’t afford or don’t need HR in-house. Between her business and becoming a new mom, plus being a dog mom, Nora's life is busy but she doesn't mind. "Coming home to loved ones makes all the hard work worth it," she says.
We caught up with Nora to find out about Jasper, her rescue Husky, and how she balances motherhood with being a pet parent.
Jasper is an eight year old rescue husky. We got him when he was 2 years old. Unfortunately, Jasper did not have a great start to life. He was rescued from a hoarding situation where someone had 40 huskies they were keeping outdoors. The owner went to prison for an unrelated reason and the dogs were left abandoned. A neighbour reported the situation and Red Rover, a great rescue organization that can handle these types of emergencies, swooped in. They set up a temporary camp since no rescue agency would be able to accept 40 dogs at once. Red Rover got the dogs back up to optimal health, provided them with basic training, and distributed the huskies to different rescues across Ontario and Quebec for adoption.
I came across Jasper on Petfinder. He was being fostered by Ann & Pete’s, a small rescue home that takes in overflow from other places. They typically have about 5-10 dogs at once. When I saw Jasper, I fell in love with him immediately, and we have been together ever since. Every year on his adoption anniversary, I send Ann and Pete pictures and updates about Jasper. I’ll be sending his sixth one in a couple weeks!
Moving to Toronto, after growing up on farm, made me miss being surrounded by dogs. I always had golden retrievers as a child but never owned a dog as an adult.
When I felt ready for a dog, I was working at Freshbooks. They are such a dog-friendly company and there are always dogs in the office. I had to get one! Rescuing was, and is, very important to me. I knew I would adopt.
Jasper didn't come from the best situation and it was a long journey working with trainers so that he felt safe and could adjust to his indoor life. Now, he’s basically a couch potato! People always comment on how far he has come, thanks to his training.
I really appreciate companies that allow you to bring your dog to work, and that’s one option for any entrepreneur or working pet parent. Now, due to meeting with clients, I don’t bring him to work very often. Huskies are very high energy breeds, so I bring him to a doggy daycare with a large, fenced-in, outdoor space. He can really get his energy out, run around, and socialize with other dogs. Like most huskies, Jasper requires at least an hour of outdoor time a day. It’s very important that if you choose to have a husky that you’re able to provide the level of attention and exercise required for them.
Balancing being a new mom and a pet parent is tough. There’s no way I could have a puppy and a baby at the same time. Jasper and I have a very strong bond at this point. I feel he knew when I was pregnant. When baby Ezra came along, he seemed to understand that the new baby was a big focus. Since Jasper and I have built that relationship, he trusts me and knows he’ll be taken care of. He’s so great with Ezra and has always been so lovely with other dogs and children. A huge help is that my husband stays home to take care of Ezra and Jasper and provide that attention, as well.
Huskies are incredibly smart but they are not well-suited to being cooped up. They need lots of time to exercise and socialize. Huskies are also very strong-willed. If they don't see a reason why they should do something, they're not likely to do it! I can have full on arguments with Jasper with shared looks or a tone and he sulks like a teenager. I absolutely love that independent streak in him. It makes it feel like a friend relationship, rather than a master-owner one. I grew up with golden retrievers and the husky relationship is very different.
Huskies are also beautiful dogs. Everyone always comments on Jasper’s heterochromia [different colour eyes], the tell-tale feature of huskies!
Huskies shed a lot! I carry a mini lint roller literally everywhere with me. Get a good vacuum, get lint rollers, and be prepared for lots of outdoor time. With that, you’re set for a fulfilling and trusting relationship between you and your husky.