O’Neal Scott talks about her dog training service, Angel Dog,
and how she can make a wedding day all the more special.
“Dog weddings? Are you kidding? You mean actually having a formal ceremony for two dogs? Is this an Asheville thing—you know, keeping it weird and…” “No,” comes the patient reply. “Weddings where the people getting married also have their pets as part of the ceremony, just like they have bridesmaids and groomsmen. But it is definitely a ‘thing,’ yes.”
That’s Asheville’s O’Neal Scott, schooling me on what she, with 40 years’ worth of experience working with dogs under her belt, has increasingly found to be a lucrative part of her business, Angel Dog, Inc. Growing up in the Midwest, she got into dog training during her teen years through 4-H and taking part in obedience and confirmation competitions. That fueled her enthusiasm and led her to connect with professional dog trainers and obtain advanced training and certification in order to start her own business. By 1998 she had opened Angel Dog, Inc.
“At that time,” she says, picking up the story, “I left the large corporate world to create a more positive and enriching life with dogs and their loving families. I’ve a lifetime with animals as family members and I’m passionate about actively pursuing the ongoing joy of working with dogs. I’ve been blessed to train one-on-one with extraordinary mentors. And I’ve always focused on a loving relationship of giving done on both ends of the leash.”
Scott’s training programs have won awards in the canine industry, and she’s been featured on television and radio. She also developed Angel Dog Sound Socialization to address the needs of sound-fearful dogs. (Think: last month’s July 4 celebrations.)
She would soon relocate to “a quieter, more peaceful life” in Asheville, a much smaller market than the ever-sprawling Atlanta, while still maintaining a loyal Georgia client base. And in addition to starting her obedience and training program—Angel Dog is billed as “the Harvard of dog training”—Scott also incorporated event planning into her services, coordinating with wedding planners to create a calm, enjoyable wedding experience both for the humans and their pooches.
Explains Scott, “Asheville is a wedding destination and also known as Dog City USA, so naturally we need this service—isn’t it perfect for Asheville? I bring a unique set of skills not found in most wedding pet services. Research shows most companies are led and run by pet sitters and dog walkers. My vast dog training and event experience provides a significant advantage way beyond where many others would be limited in scope and abilities.
“I was excited to expand into the wedding pet services field because it is filled with joy, happiness, and connection. I’m experienced in including our beloved pets in weddings. I hope people will reach out and take advantage of my experience and talents in helping make their day extra special and joy filled by including their dog—a family member—in important moments in their life.”
And bringing her business to Western North Carolina has proved to be a prescient move.
“Anytime is a good time to get married in Asheville! And people do. I’ve talked with many Asheville wedding planners and specialists, and they are very helpful and supportive, and open to incorporate dogs in wedding ceremonies, receptions, and photo shoots. Overall, I find the wedding specialists here in WNC to be wonderful, gracious, and professional. I feel so blessed to be able to work with them.
“And people [are hearing] about Angel Dog, available to smoothly include dog family members in wedding ceremonies, receptions, photo shoots, and even proposals, engagement parties, save-the-date, and other events. Services such as training, pet sitting, and transportation are popular. I think we can look forward to seeing more dogs ‘blooming’ in the wedding scene, so I’m excited to be ramping up the wedding business portion of Angel Dog Inc. My services cater to large or small weddings, sweet indoor venues or our magnificent outdoors.”
Scott mentions an upcoming event at the French Broad River Park which she feels will be particularly special: A father in a wheelchair will have his beloved dog on his lap as he escorts his daughter down the aisle. Says Scott, “This will be a delightful ceremony to remember.”
Incidentally, about that “thing” mentioned above: Apparently, I have been way behind the curve, because in 2014 Buzzfeed published “29 Perfectly Adorable Ways to Include Your Pet in Your Wedding.” It displayed a menagerie’s worth of cute puppydog, kittycat, rabbit, horse, owl, and even (shudder) snake photos snapped at nuptials, along with suggestions such as including the critters in the wedding party photos, making them the flower girl’s escort, and having them at your side while making your vows.
So yeah, it’s been a thing for some time now. You may now kiss the bride.
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