Along with an affinity for animals, Rebecca Gamez said she has had a natural ability for working with dogs for as long as she can remember.
When she felt there was something lacking in dog training, Gamez said she decided to take matters into her own hands.
According to the ASPCA Pet Statistics, approximately two million dogs are rescued from shelters each year. Although people are encouraged to “adopt not shop,” many rescued pets come with side effects including anxiety, depression and hyperactivity.
Pet owners may search for training facilities to help their newly adopted dogs adjust to life outside of an animal shelter. For South Bethlehem residents, the answer lies a few streets over at 502 South Clewell Street in Fountain Hill.
Located just five minutes west of Lehigh’s campus is The Beauty of Dogs, a dog training facility Gamez opened six years ago.
A Bethlehem resident herself, Gamez said she recognized the diversity of both income and people in the city. She opened the business to offer her extensive dog knowledge to her community.
“There’s a lot of dogs in the area and a lot of need,” Gamez said. “It definitely made sense to offer that to an area that needs it.”
Gamez said she wanted to take a different approach to dog training. Instead of focusing on obedience training where dogs are simply taught commands, Gamez teaches her clients how to understand their dog’s behavior and why they do certain things.
Fountain Hill resident Sam Vandling started taking his dog Dany to The Beauty of Dogs in 2017. Vandling said he likes working with The Beauty of Dogs because Gamez believes in a “well-behaved dog,” not just a “well-trained dog.”
“When I go to a dog park, if I see somebody, I recommend (Gamez) for training,” Vandling said. “I think everybody should do some type of training.”
Although there isn’t an established dog park in the South Bethlehem area, Gamez said having a dog park wouldn’t provide the same opportunity for education and healthy interactions that come with being moderated by professionals.
To combat this, Gamez offers socialization classes that allow dogs to interact with each other in a safe environment with experienced dog trainers.
“It’s important that the community has the opportunity for this type of business,” Gamez said. “There’s plenty of dogs in the area and we want to be able to enjoy them in the community.”
The Beauty of Dogs offers specialized programs for all types of dogs including private lessons, live coaching, socialization classes and webinars, among others.
However, Gamez said their format is changing so owners can create unique programs that best cater to their individual dogs.
“It’s very important for people to be able to make their own choices in various aspects, and that includes whatever type of work they’re going to be doing with their dog,” Gamez said.
Gamez has previously worked with both veterinarians and breeders. While she has also worked with horses and llamas, Gamez said she has always felt the most drawn toward working with dogs.
“I would say my favorite part of my job is seeing the change in the dog in just their outlook on life,” Gamez said. “One of the best things is when an owner says ‘They’re just so much happier.’”
Over the last six years, The Beauty of Dogs has helped countless owners train their canines.
South Bethlehem resident Shannon Keen said she started taking her dog Liam to The Beauty of Dogs in January.
“He had some problems with being nervous around new people and he hadn’t been introduced to many dogs,” Keen said. “I wanted help with getting him more comfortable and confident and more friendly with other dogs.”
Keen said she has found The Beauty of Dogs, and Gamez specifically, helped Liam overcome his anxiety. She said she has never connected with a trainer as much as Gamez, who she describes as a kind and patient person with an outstanding knowledge of dogs. She especially values Gamez’s one-on-one approach.
Keen said she would recommend The Beauty of Dogs on account of both Gamez’s flexibility and her eagerness to help.
Donna Capelle, a resident of Walnutport, started taking her dog Tucker to The Beauty of Dogs last fall. Capelle travels almost half an hour from Walnutport to visit the facility.
Tucker was an anxious dog with certain triggers that caused heightened stress for both him and his owners. Using Gamez’s techniques, Capelle said Tucker has learned how to calm himself down when stressed.
“Rebecca is very calming, so it’s more like she was teaching us so that we can teach our dog and be able to live together,” Capelle said. “This is something that I’m ever grateful for.”
Capelle, who has known Gamez since she was a little girl through family friends, said she recommends the Beauty of Dogs to everyone who has a dog with challenges.
Gamez said she hopes to continue to help South Bethlehem community members get the most out of their money by guiding them to the best way to keep their dogs happy and healthy.
“That’s what the name of my business is really all about,” Gamez said. “Being able to encourage the human-canine bond through teamwork, and how that can really help us.”