By Stef Tschida
“I didn’t have a choice in doing this.” When Ali Jarvis formed her business, Sidewalk Dog Media, that’s how passionate she felt about it. Luc, her beloved Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, had just been diagnosed with a rare muscular disease. Ali had always wanted to spend as much time with Luc as possible, but now she needed to—he had to be given medication throughout the day.
Ali began looking for ways to have Luc with her as she went about her everyday life, but she couldn’t find a resource that identified which workspaces or restaurants were dog friendly. As Ali started talking to others about her situation, she quickly learned she wasn’t the only one who considered her dog a full-fledged member of the family. Others also wanted to spend more time with their dogs, especially after working all day, but they didn’t know how to, either. The idea for Sidewalk Dog was born.
Ten years later, Ali’s growing online directory is connecting thousands of dog owners with dog-friendly restaurants, breweries, apartments, workspaces and more throughout the Twin Cities, and they’ve just expanded to Chicago. Businesses are excited to be featured, as more and more are welcoming dogs and their humans because they know they’ll be loyal customers, willing to drive out of their way for somewhere they can bring their beloved companions.
The thing Ali is most proud of though? The number of dogs she’s been able to help through her organization. A big part of Sidewalk Dog Media’s mission is to give back to nonprofits that help animals. She’s also helped hundreds of special needs dogs get adopted by featuring their stories on her blog and appearing with the pups on local television shows.
Luc’s disease took his life when he was just five years old, but Ali is so thankful he got to benefit from the first three years of Sidewalk Dog’s existence, tagging along with her as she frequented dog-friendly businesses while helping others do the same.
The community Ali’s company helped create ended up helping her, too. While she never thought she could have another Cavalier King Charles Spaniel after Luc, she received many suggestions from Sidewalk Dog followers about other dogs from the breed who needed good homes. She eventually adopted Maggie Moo, who is now 10.
Sidewalk Dog continues to expand into more cities, making Ali and Maggie Moo just one of hundreds of pairs of humans and dogs who head out the door together a lot more often than they’d get to otherwise.
To learn more about Ali’s business, visit SidewalkDog.com.
Photo: Sidewalk Dog Media
About the author: Stef Tschida is a former corporate communicator and lifelong storyteller. Stef’s WHY became clear when she worked at her daily campus newspaper. She realized she didn’t want to ask tough questions as a reporter—she wanted to help organizations answer those tough questions. She’s been doing that work ever since.