Locals used to say that to live in this Valley, you had to have two things: a pickup truck and a dog. These days, SUVs and Hummers may be more popular than that trusty old pickup; but nothing, nothing can replace man’s best friend. So it’s not surprising that a number of Sun Valley residents have created companies with our four-legged friends in mind.
Eight years ago, Lynn Poydenis invented PetLights, a lighted dog collar, after her dog, Sam, was hit by a car one dark night. With the help of AT Designs in Ketchum, she perfected a collar with LED lights set into a nylon band. Dog owners use a battery box to activate the bright red lights, which make the collar visible up to a quarter of a mile.
Although he still has a bad leg, Sam has otherwise recovered—and Pet-Lights are now sold all over the world. “Most recently,” says Poydenis, “we donated 150 PetLights to the Alliance for NYC Animals, an organization working to increase adoptions of shelter animals.” She has also donated collars to animal shelters, to veterinarians assisting abused animals, and to search-and-rescue dogs serving at the World Trade Center after the September 11 attacks.
Another local resident, Ginger Ferries (“mom” to yellow Labs Crosby and Farley), began her business, Hound Around two years ago. “I take dogs out when their owners are at work or when they’re just too busy with one thing or another,” Ferries says. “I usually take them in groups of four, for a couple of hours, on either a hike or a walk.”
On any given day, sun or snow, you might find Ferries or an associate with pooches on leash in Adams Gulch, on Proctor Mountain, near Trail Creek Cabin or, perhaps, in Quigley Canyon or Democrat Gulch in Hailey.
Hound Around services also include dogsitting while Fido’s family is on vacation. The piéce de résistance, however, may be the therapeutic massage service that Ferries offers her canine clients. “Sometimes a dog gets injured, and many older dogs develop arthritis,” she explains. “Massage gives them comfort and helps them get around more easily. What’s more, I teach the owner massage techniques that can be applied day-to-day.”
And then there’s Wendel Wirth, who creates colorful dog collars and leads for fashion-conscious pups. The concept had its start back in 1988, when Wirth created a collar for her dog, Aiko, from an old leash and a tattered Guatemalan sash.
Since then, with inspiration from a poem by W.H. Auden that reads, “In moments of joy all of us wished we had a tail we could wag,” Wirth has built a business with a staff of four and more than 500 retail accounts throughout the United States and Japan. Fittingly, the enterprise is called A Tail We Could Wag.
Thanks to these pet-loving entrepreneurs, many canines in Sun Valley and elsewhere are now safer, better dressed, and pampered beyond their wildest doggy dreams.