We had the good fortune of connecting with Elaine Reiter and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elaine , can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I started my animal training journey when I was just a child. I use to watch anything with animals on T.V. Growing up children are frequently asked “What are you going to do when you grow up?” I repeatedly answered “work with animals, Flipper to be exact”. The adults would chuckle and say “that’s so cute”. I meant it. Eventually I was privileged to be offered a job as a show trainer at a local aquarium. As years went on I worked with all the animals including a majestic killer whale. I quickly moved up all the ranks as high as you could go. I was blessed with mentors that cared deeply for every living animal and constantly challenged me. As I grew as a professional trainer I realized that domestic animals, dogs and cats were sometimes, chained in backyards, at times showing aggression and getting euthanized and sent to shelters for all kinds of undesirable behavior. It bothered me to my core and I knew I had to do something about it. Sitting with a trainer at happy hour, we started discussing the issue of shelters and rescues. We both decided that to do nothing, was an action in itself. Hence at that very moment Wildside was born.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Wildside Unlimited is not your average animal company. Animal training, animal actor registry and professional on set trainers, pet sitting, rescue community support and more. It doesn’t fit neatly into any box. We are most proud of that. It is whatever the community needs. Our members can rely on our hallmark passion and customer service. We are a profit company that runs with a non-profit heart. Our classes are open to all dogs: Reactive, seniors, blind, mobile compromised, bedwetters, anxiety warriors and more. We are constantly looking for a door to open to help the pet community, locally and globally. Finding our way has not been easy. You need to keep your eyes wide open and be ready to leap or change your course. Heraclitus said “Change is the only constant in life”. Wildside eventually had its dream come true and became a brick and mortar company in 2015. We quickly learned that although it gave us a front seat in our community and we were winning awards, it was not who we are. Selling product in an industry saturated with options, we quickly realized we could not compete with the big box stores. In 2019 we decided to change course and move onto growing our services. It was terrifying to let go of the store to downsize, but that is when things started happening. We listened to our members and started growing our classes, created a membership series, and did not leave any dogs out because of behavioral issues. Of course you have to set guidelines and do this safely, but the dogs that usually don’t make the cut to join classes, are usually the ones that need them the most. Helping animals that normally would have no options is what we are all about. Helping them brings us back to our roots. We constantly tell the community we are here to help and we keep changing to adapt to their needs. Along the way I have learned many lessons and we have had to make numerous changes. The biggest lesson is it’s ok to be different. By listening to our heart and our members we will thrive. Wildside Unlimited is holding up to it’s promise. We train our hearts out, have fun doing it, and save pets lives.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I love San Diego. This town is full of surprises. My favorite places to visit: Harney Sushi in Old Town: No it’s not Mexican Cuisine, but it is awesome sushi! Barbusa: Having our story in Little Italy we were surrounded by Italian restaurants. Barbusa is the best. This family has been in Little Italy, San Diego since it was a tuna fishing village. The real deal. Your welcome. Tom Hamms Sunday Buffet: Don’t eat, even snack before going. Make room. You will not believe your eye’s. The view is one of kind on San Diego bay, the food is award winning, the mimosas don’t stop. A must go. Sunset Cliffs at sundown. Just go.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate this Shoutout to Marcia Henton, Holly Kenton and Leslie Larsen. Thank you for all of your mentorship and endless love you have shown me for over 30 years. I never stop learning when I am around you.