Joanna Gardiner, and Peggy Linker (Courtesy Photo).

Joanna Gardiner, and Peggy Linker (Courtesy Photo).

Islander steps down from longtime pet care business

Joanna Gardiner of Loving Care for Animals is leaving her business this summer after 23 years.

Joanna Gardiner of Loving Care for Animals is leaving her business this summer after 23 years to be closer to family and a grandchild living in Detroit.

The house and critter-sitting service will remain open, with longtime islander Peggy Linker stepping in to see that the legacy Gardiner created through the years is carried on.

“I have loved animals my whole life and enjoyed a special closeness with them,” said Gardiner, who turned a simple favor for a friend with animal care needs into a small part-time job to help make ends meet. That got islanders talking, and soon, many were calling on her before taking off for vacation or going away on business for extended periods of time.

When her duties as island dog-walker and house sitter extraordinaire began to compete with her other commitments, Gardiner decided to explore something new and see if the position she created could work as a full-time occupation.

Just one year later, Loving Care for Animals had become so successful, according to Gardiner, that she had to consider what she wanted it to become before going any further.

“I did not want to turn people away when I was full, and more than that, I wanted to spend time with the animals that I was taking care of, because I have always believed that just like us, their emotional and intellectual and spiritual needs are as important as their physical ones,” she said.

Gardiner decided that to do the work well, she needed others to help. Thankfully, she said, Vashon is a place notable for the many islanders who possess a deep reverence and respect for all animal kind.

The business has since evolved organically — today, Gardiner’s staff of five offers dog walking, house sitting and a dog playgroup.

“I don’t know how to describe it other than there’s so much joy when you’re working with animals,” said Linker, adding that she was excited to begin, though no one can quite replace Gardiner. Linker said she has a special affinity for dogs and has been described as a “dog whisperer” by friends for the calming presence she brings to even the most anxiety-ridden pooch. But she also has a particular soft spot for a playful African grey parrot named Sharkey. To Linker, it’s just another highlight of the job.

“That’s what this island has done for me over the years, is to help make that connection … with the animals that live alongside us,” she said.

Linker described the business opportunity as a privilege.

“To me, it’s not a job, it’s a calling, and I know that Joanna gets that. We want to continue to do it.”

For her part, Gardiner plans to volunteer for an animal adoption center once she has settled, as well as try out her hand at running an Airbnb. She said she will also be on the lookout for her next dog, and getting in plenty of time to play with her grandchild.

“I was blessed, as is Peggy and everyone we work with, to work at a job where you give and receive love on a daily basis. There is nothing as healing and joyous,” she said.

For more information, call Peggy Linker at 206-707-6435.

More in Business

Change in store for island eateries

Island Subway restaurant, Kenny’s Brainfreeze for sale; Maven Mercantile closing.

Relish offers hearty helping of new classes

“It’s very empowering to cook for your family, your friends or yourself.”

Islander steps down from longtime pet care business

Joanna Gardiner of Loving Care for Animals is leaving her business this summer after 23 years.

New eateries give islanders choices to chew on

A wave of restaurant openings on Vashon has drawn attention.

Island pot farms going up in smoke

Five years after legalization, some marijuana businesses on Vashon struggle to turn a profit.

COMMENTARY: VCA rep: Board acted responsibly in building new center

No doubt, Liz Shepherd worked hard on her VCA article — a… Continue reading

Vashon family winery opens, begins sales

Eight years ago, Rebecca Lanphear and her husband Damon planted 1 acre of grapevines on their property on SW 159th Street with the hope of creating local wine. Now, on the heels of two warm summer seasons and local record grape harvests, Alli Lanphear Vineyard and Winery is ready to officially open its doors Saturday.

Islanders urged to shop in town, support Vashon businesses

At Vashon Bookshop last week, islander Robin Branstator paused while purchasing two books to talk about why she makes an effort to shop locally.

Under new ownership, liquor store moves down the street

Vashon’s liquor store has a new owner and has moved to the southern edge of town.

New business with many spokes opens in old bike shop

A new business called Spoke recently rolled into the old bike shop by the post office. The three owners have been renovating the building’s interior to fit their multi-use vision for the large space and plan to welcome the public with an opening reception from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday.

Couple hinges new shop on gallery, gifts and framing

The brown paper that for weeks covered the windows of the former Raven’s Nest came down last Thursday, revealing the new Hinge Gallery, which includes a frame and gift shop and a small art gallery.

Travel and Leisure names Thai restaurant one of country’s best

Travel and Leisure magazine recently named May Kitchen + Bar to its list of the best Thai restaurants in the United States.