Turning a passion into a career

Sayville alumnus runs successful dog-walking business

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Despite loving dogs her whole life, Rebecca (“Becky”) Seeba never envisioned the business and career she currently has.

“I went to school for pre-physical therapy,” Seeba said. “I decided in like eighth grade that was what I was going to do. I worked in a PT office as a PT aide and I liked it, but I really didn’t love it, so I was taking a gap year from college.”

It was during this gap year in 2020 that the 24-year-old Seeba decided to join the site Rover, a company that connects potential dog-walkers with individuals looking for dog-sitters or walkers.

Seeba paid $20 for the Rover-required background check and soon got a notification that someone in south Sayville was looking for a dog-walker. During this time, Seeba said she was working mostly “side gigs,” such as waitressing at local restaurants in addition to walking dogs.

“I was doing it on the side, but I was still applying to grad schools,” Seeba said of dog-walking. “I was just applying to programs to say that I was doing something, essentially. I was so lost. I really didn’t want to do that, but I just had no idea.”

Seeba soon decided to take a chance and cut out the middleman. She created Ruff Life Walks and Wags in 2021 as her own venture. After learning about Seeba’s new company, her aunt connected her with someone she knew with her own successful dog-walking business, Jackie Bray. Bray and her husband Pat own Korn Dogs, a dog-walking-turned-pet-playdate service that is a riff off of Bray’s maiden name, Korn.

Seeba said Bray became a mentor to her and helped her every step of the way as she developed her own business.

“She really held my hand through it, and she still does,” Seeba said of Bray. “If I have a question, I’ll shoot her a text and she’ll get back to me and give me the best advice. That was a big help in figuring out how to get this off the ground.”

Bray, whose Korn Dogs business is based in the Chatham, Madison, Morristown and Floral Park areas of New Jersey, said Seeba has what it takes to make her business just as successful as her own.

“There is no doubt in my mind that eventually Korn Dogs is going to work with Becky’s company because she is going to be at the same level we are at, where she’s a small business that turns big,” Bray said. “And she’s still going to be personalized. She’s still going to be the face of the company, and my only regret is that I wish she lived here so we could hire her. You could tell from the beginning that she really wanted this and her passion for dogs is 100 percent.”

Seeba said an important lesson Bray taught her was to prioritize giving back to the community and making that a fundamental part of one’s business. Bray recommended Seeba read the book “Start Something That Matters” by Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS shoes. Bray also had Seeba write down her goals for the business and how she wanted to help the community around her with the business.

“That was really inspiring that this isn’t just a business transaction company,” Seeba said of Bray’s advice. “She told me, ‘You really need to look at this as, How is this going to better you and those around you and the world around you?’ and that was really the best advice because it gave me an outlook because I was like, ‘Wow I could really use this business for so much good other than just a career.’”

During the pandemic, Seeba and her family fostered five different dogs through Southampton-based Last Chance Animal Rescue, and she said that she would love to give back to that organization with her business.

“It was the best feeling to give these abandoned dogs or homeless dogs a place to live and foster them to their next home,” Seeba said. She would love to help them buy leashes, crates, dog food and other supplies because the organization provides those items to foster families at no charge.

“I would love for it to grow so that there’s consistent giving back,” Seeba said of her hopes for the business. “Where it’s not like I just have one fundraiser. Each week or each month, give back to these foster rescues and be able to provide for that.”

Seeba said it was important for her to become dog and cat CPR certified, which she did online through the Red Cross.

“That was kind of the first thing I did,” Seeba said. “I felt like, one, that it was important to put people’s minds at ease, but two, I really wanted to be prepared, god-forbid anything happened. These dogs are in my hands. They’re people’s children, essentially, so I really just wanted to in case of an emergency be able to help.”

Brian Concannon, a client of Seeba’s, said he’d recommend her to anyone who needs a reliable dog-walker.

“Becky is great; she is always on time and professional and treats my dog just as well, if not better than I do,” Concannon said. “By coming and walking Dakota, she allows me to work farther from home and longer hours, which benefits me and Dakota in the long run. I don’t know what I’d do without her. My schedule changes and she’s always flexible with it.”

Seeba said she currently walks eight to 11 dogs daily and also takes care of customers’ dogs at their own house while their owner is away. She is currently in the process of trying to bring another person onto her team so the business can grow. She works in Sayville, Bayport, Patchogue and the surrounding areas. More information on Ruff Life Walks and Wags can be found at https://rufflifewalksandwags.com/ as well as on Instagram at @rufflifewalksandwags.

“I never in a million years would have pictured this for my life, but it really couldn’t be more perfect,” Seeba said. 

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