John Lopez Jr. is a champion of loyalty, service and obedience - so much so, he served in Afghanistan in 2006 as a combat engineer with the 37th Engineer Battalion. It was his job to find and destroy mines in roadways so troops could move around safely. Lopez volunteered to lead the patrol, to go first.
"It has always been my mission to put others above myself," he says.
Now, as a private business owner, loyalty, service and obedience are what he expects from his clients. Half of them are completely on board with his expectations - the two-legged half. The other half, the clients with four legs and flapping tails, sometimes need encouragement.
That’s because Lopez is a dog trainer. He owns and operates Standing Obeytion Dog Training since 2011 and Howliday Inn Pet Resort LLC since 2013. Offering boarding, grooming and training has been a howling success.
“Opening the Howliday Inn has been my proudest professional and community accomplishment,” Lopez says. “In our first year, we generated over $200,000 in revenues, $80,000 of which was profit.”
The businesses, which employ seven people, hit the three-year growth goal in eight months, he says.
“The average time it takes a new business to reach profit is usually three to five years,” he says.
Although a healthy profit margin is the goal for any business, Lopez is after a healthy, balanced relationship between dog and owner.
“I have helped train several hundred dogs in the past year, dogs that were mentally draining to their owners,” he says, noting that proper training helped relieve dogs of aggression, nervousness and fear while instilling basic obedience. “Many owners were very close to giving up on their dog. I was able to help transform the behaviors of the dogs. Helping bring this kind of balance in the home also brings much-needed peace to the owners.”
Dogs in Lopez’s care learn more than to not jump on people or bark incessantly at every noise. Many are trained as service dogs. Some help military personnel suffering with post-traumatic stress, others help people with physical limitations by opening doors, turning on lights or even detecting when someone is about to have a seizure.
He also helps nonprofit rescue groups save dogs, many of which have come from “terrible situations.”
“We have been able to save and rehome many dogs because of our efforts,” he says.
In 2011, Lopez helped with a different rehoming project: The aftermath of the Joplin tornado.
“After the tornado hit, I knew it would be selfish of me to focus on myself when others were in need,” he says.
Also employed by Ozarks Food Harvest at the time, Lopez helped manage OFH’s warehouse and distribute food and water to Joplin residents.
“We went from distributing 900,000 pounds of food a month to close to 3,000,000,” he says.
Lopez still assists OFH with food drives and supports many local nonprofit groups, including Republic Paw Pantry, Cause for Paws Animal Rescue, C.A.R.E. animal rescue and American Cancer Society.[[In-content Ad]]