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Superintendent’s Spotlight: WVHS senior Maddie Schloicka

on November 7, 2019

Maddie SchloickaWarwick Valley High School Senior Maddie Schloicka is already on a pathway to career success and she’s not yet a Warwick Valley graduate.

That’s because she’s the proud owner of “Warwick Wags,” a pet sitting and dog walking business that has made a name for itself through word-of-mouth and social media marketing.

 “I love dogs,” said Maddie, who also attends Orange Ulster BOCES’ Environmental Careers Academy and studies animal science.  “I always said I wanted to be a vet or to work with police dogs or companion or rescue dogs.  It’s always been an interest of mine to work with animals. I’ve always been an independent person and a go-getter. I like to be and have been successful.”

Now, she’s planning to grow her business by branching into dog training. To be sure she’s best prepared for her planned business expansion, she’s currently working as an unpaid apprentice with dog trainer Jim Epperly. This will give her the practical experience to introduce her new dog training “division.”          

It all started with a rescue dog

Maddie’s dream to work with dogs began when a rescue dog became part of her family.

“She had some aggression issues,” said Maddie. “We go to a vet in Vernon (N.J.)  and he recommended Jim. He came over for a private lesson. He realized I was interested in dog training and allowed me to come and watch him, to get my foot in a little bit to see how I liked it. I started going to his classes and private lessons. Now, I’m almost teaching my own classes… trick dog classes, puppy classes or canine good citizen classes. All this, in about two years’ time. It really happened quick.” 

She is grateful to Mr. Epperly for his support and encouragement.

Jim Epperly and Maggie Schloika with a dog“Jim is my biggest role model,” Maddie said. “He’s amazing. He’s helped me to learn that it takes steps to become what you want. I’m getting closer to becoming a dog trainer.”       

Mr. Epperly offered equal praise about Maddie.

“I had a mentor in 2005 and I didn’t know what I was getting into,” he said. “I spent every free minute of the day with her learning about dogs and dog training. I’m making her legacy live on by doing for Maddie what she did for me. Maddie will tell you she’s not a great book student, but she learns a lot of things ‘hands on.’ I was the same way. She loves this, she asks all the right questions.   She was very shy the beginning and afraid to speak to people in a group. But, she’s been so good lately, I’ve let her take over for my classes. She is conscientious and dependable.”

Wanting to do more with dogs

As a byproduct of her dog training apprenticeship, Maddie realized she wanted to do more with dogs. She thought doing something tied to pet sitting and dog walking would fit around her school schedule and apprenticeship. 

The power of social media helped her.

“I posted my business on Facebook and it started doing really well,” she said. “It was so shocking how fast my page’s ‘likes’ went up. I got my DBA (one way to register one’s business) and started up. With my own business, I can work my own hours and create a better schedule for my own life.”

Maddie currently has 20 active canine client families and services provided to them vary. A complimentary consultation will set up the parameters her work, based on the dog’s daily schedule. 

A ‘crazy dog mom’

“I might simply cuddle older dogs or walk puppies,” she said. “Or just take a dog for a walk. Or go and feed them.  I’m a little bit of a ‘crazy dog mom.’ If your dog needs to be tucked in at night, I’ll do it. And I have.  It depends on what people want. I’ve stayed overnight with dogs.  I’ll text photos of your dog to you while you’re away. I bring toys to play with them. I can meet the needs of your dogs if they have health issues. People are trusting me to come into their homes. I’ve never had any problems.”

Maddie’s “human clients” speak highly of her.  

“We met Maddie when we wanted to get Joce trained,” said client Larry Miri. “We brought Maddie in to train Joce outside of the school. That kind of morphed into anytime I have to run out, she’ll come in and walk all four dogs. I live in the world’s largest dog house.”

Mr. Miri was amazed at Maddie’s ability to handle his dogs.

“I had no idea that she was a senior,” he said. “I thought she was older just because of the way she carries herself.  She’s great, absolutely reliable and responsible.   It blew me away. She’s always available if I need someone last minute to take care of them. And training Joce, she made the other three dogs’ lives easier too. She made having a wild puppy at home a lot easier to handle.”

Take your passion and make something happen

Maddie with a black lab dog Maddie stressed that success is measured in many ways.

“I struggle a lot in school with grades and I’m awful at testing,” she said. “I’m not the average high school kid. I’m thrilled to be able to be so successful and say I’m not going to college, but I have a plan. There’s not just one path to go down.”

Maddie encouraged others to take their passion and make something happen.

“If you’re interested in something, venture out and find a way to get started in that career,” she said. “Get into something ‘little’ and work yourself up. Take opportunities when they come. You’ve got to put yourself out there and put the time into it. For me, the animal community is an amazing community. I get to interact with these dogs and their families. People just love their dogs and would do almost anything for them. I love being a part of this.”       

Visit Maddie’s “Warwick Wags” Facebook page to learn more about her services and fees.

Each week, Warwick Valley Central School District Superintendent Dr. David Leach shines his “Superintendent’s Spotlight” on one of Warwick Valley’s amazing students. “Superintendent’s Spotlight” features students who reach goals, achieve accomplishments,  face challenges and/or are role models to their peers.

 

 

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