We had the good fortune of connecting with Kimberli Weeks and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kimberli, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I strongly believe risk taking is essential to success in business and life. Taking the easy approach of, “Yeah, but…” will not lead to success. Diving in head first, with a new business AND a new and untapped market, was definitely a risk. I had no one to model off of in San Diego, and having a Dog Running business as opposed to numerous dog walking businesses, was a challenge. I have a strong personality and positive outlook on life, and this helped when most people had the “Yeah, but…” questions regarding my new dog running business. Fast forward almost five years later, and my determination turned into knowledge. One client turned into five, turned into ten, turned into forming a team of Dog Runner’s and led to my rebrand last year. Now we are rapidly growing throughout most of San Diego, and very much a mission-based dog business. My determination and continued experience has led to numerous appearances in media, national brand partnerships and accolades in the Canine Wellness sector. This all started on one idea I took a risk on and never let doubt take over. I truly believe life and business is so much easier when you take control of your doubts and if you fail, you learn. How can you succeed without some sort of failure from risk taking? This is all part of growth as a successful business owner.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
After my first year in business, I had one of my clients cry to me and thanked me profusely because she was convinced I saved her ten pound rescue dog through running. When he and I started his fitness journey, he was scared of everyone and everything. He barked nonstop and was a recent Mexico street dog rescue. What I did not realize until seeing it in this sweet dog, was that running was going to not just help him get in shape physically, but his mind would also be transformed. The mental aspect of dog running in many cases is more important to these dogs because they now have a positive focus, a “job”, and they tend to not misbehave because of this focus. As I mentioned earlier, risk taking was and still is crucial to my success in business. Had I not taken a risk to start a new and unheard of business in a niche market, I wouldn’t have helped many San Diego dogs achieve their physical and mental peak. I had many people dismiss me initially as a “part timer” who wouldn’t last long in the dog industry, and I have always known my truth regarding my business goals. Having a goal list that is short term in days/weeks/months is imperative and long term goals are there to be had. Being the founder of a mission-based business gives that much more drive to succeed. As The Fittest Dog grows in San Diego and bring on more dog running coaches who believe in my mission of total canine wellness through running, we collectively help more dogs and families. As these coaches live what I lived early on and see the impact THEY make on these individuals, it helps in their life goals as well. I cannot stress the love I have for my business and especially love that more people come to me directly about their fitness goals as well. Being active in the local dog and inclusive running community is directly impacting their lives for the better. They may think they are simply hiring a Dog Runner to run their dog, but I know I am there with advice, dog gear and food knowledge, running groups to join, hiking locations and all things health. it’s simply who I am!

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I grew up in San Diego and definitely have my preferences when it comes to food and beaches! Because I am partial to North County Coastal, I would recommend a stay at the popular Inn at Moonlight Beach and your first morning would most likely include a sleepy walk over to Ironsmith Roasters (Turmeric Ginger Latte w/oat milk is my fav!) and continue down D Street to the Overlook and a steep stair walk down. A low tide beach walk in the quiet morning is magic! Next, you would head up to Progession Surf on the 101 to browse their massive selection of used surfboards. You’re definitely going to find a few surprises there, but if you’d rather rent a board, they have rentals as well. No surf trip is complete without surfing Beacons, and you will smile as you and your board jog down that twisty, famous dirt path. Maybe you won’t smile on the way up after, however, because that post surf climb is exhausting! Lunch is definitely Haggo’s Organic Tacos where my fav is their Immortal Tacos. Because you will be exhausted from a morning and afternoon of food and surf, Lemongrass Spa on 2nd is a great place to unwind. Dinner is healthy and vibrant at Goodonya, and day one is complete! My top pick for brunch is Waverly in my neighborhood of Cardiff By The Sea. Beer is Lost Abbey and groceries obviously Seaside Market. After brunch, The newly constructed Cardiff Rail Trail with views of our backyard is always a fun walk because neighborhood dogs are out here living their best life! My other top San Diego picks include my favorite Nomad Donuts and Communal Coffee in North Park, Assenti Pasta in Little Italy for the freshest, most authentic Italian Market in town, Urbn for pizza (multiple locations!), clothing on the 101 in Encinitas (must go to Vuori’s flagship location), Fleet Feet Running in Carmel Valley for trail shoes before hiking Torrey Pines, ice cream and shopping at Salt & Straw in One Paseo, baked goods from Wayfarer in Bird Rock, sunset at Cardiff State Beach, drinks at Pony Room at Rancho Valencia and I’ve never had a bad meal at Market…the list goes on and on!

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?
If it weren’t for the highly successful and self made Robin Toft, not hiring me to run her Labradors, I never would have found my business mentor! We met shortly after I started running dogs and we had a very impactful in person conversation. She hired me on the spot and lucky for me, her dogs were perfectly behaved and in typical Labrador Retriever fashion, 100% goofy. In our over four years of knowing each other while running her dogs, she grew her personal wealth and recognition as Woman of the Year in San Diego Business Journal, as well as a finalist for the Most Admired CEO’s, among many other prestigious honors. While my job was to keep her dogs as healthy as possible so she could spend her weekdays growing HER brand, I took many mental notes on her advice to me, usually given after sending a picture of her running dogs. I think strong and happy dog running photos inspired her to give me business advice, and I always listen to what she has to say! She is a dear friend and champion of women and men, especially those willing to take risks in business. I look forward to many more years of mentorship and friendship, and of course exercising her dogs!

Website: www.thefittestdog.com

Instagram: @thefittestdog

Linkedin: @thefittestdog

Facebook: @thefittestdog

Image Credits
Allison Shamrell and Lauren Radack for professional photography

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutSocal is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.