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At her own business: Gochanour follows her heart

Mallory Gochanour, and her dog, Mable.

Mallory Gochanour, a 20-year-old Fairmont woman, is the face behind Clara’s Dog Care. She offers in-home dog sitting and dog walking services to the Fairmont area.

Gochanour graduated from Fairmont High School in 2018. While she always liked school, she knew from an early age that going to college wasn’t what she wanted for herself.

“I wanted to do something other than the norm,” she said. “I was probably 10 or 11 and I remember my grandpa telling me, ‘You don’t have to work a day in your life if you enjoy what you do.’ I really didn’t want to go to college so I thought if I didn’t need a degree I wouldn’t go.”

Her parents run their own business, so Gochanour was able to learn a few things from them. And she has taught herself by reading books and watching YouTube videos.

Gochanour has been a lover of animals since she was young and wanted to be a vet growing up. She found that she likes working with dogs hands-on.

“In high school, I was thinking about what I wanted to do. I thought Fairmont didn’t have a dog kennel and I would love doing that. I graduated hoping I would maybe have a kennel within a few years,” Gochanour explained.

But she said her heart has changed since she began in-home dog sitting. While she still hopes to have a kennel, her priorities have shifted.

“In-home dog care has been the biggest blessing and it continues to grow,” she said.

Dog sitting has been a hobby of Gochanour’s since she was in high school. It officially became a business for her as of Jan. 1.

Word of mouth has been good advertising for her. This past week, she posted the link to her website — clarasdogcare.com — on Facebook and has gotten several inquiries.

Gochanour wanted to find a meaningful name for her business.

“When I was little, my grandparents always had dogs and the one that I remember was a golden retriever named Clara, and she was the kindest, most pure dog ever. I named it after her, but it’s kind of in memory of my grandma too. She was kind and gentle like Clara,” she explained.

Gochanour compiles dog portfolios for each dog she has watched. The number is well over 80, and her business still continues to grow.

“I feel like I know the dogs better than the humans,” Gochanour said, laughing.

While she advertises her service as being for dogs, she has watched a wide range of other pets, including cats, rabbits, donkeys and hermit crabs.

One of her favorite parts of the job is the variety of dogs she gets to care for. She has watched a dane-lab mix weighing about 120 pounds, down to a small 12-pound terrier.

“I love the variety. They remind me of us as people. God created us and no two are the same. They all have their own special needs and wants and personality traits,” Gochanour said.

A lot of people ask her to do overnight stays but right now Gochanour just goes in and out to feed the dogs, let them outside or walk them. She will stop by as often as the dog owner wants her to.

She offers several service packages that are listed on her website.

The majority of dogs she watches are because the owners are on vacation or out of town, but she also has some regulars she walks a few times per week, as well as a few she lets out during the day while their owners are at work.

While Gochanour is focused on her business and would still like to have a kennel down the line, she also has another big plan in the works: she is investing time in her Bernese Mountain Dog, Mable, whom she plans to breed.

She traveled to Missouri in the fall of 2019 to get Mable.

“My biggest goal is to breed good-quality, healthy Bernese Mountain Dogs. I would love to somehow combine my two businesses,” Gochanour noted.

Anyone interested in Gochanour’s services can check out the website at clarasdogcare.com or contact Gochanour at (507) 848-1843.

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