Living a top dog life


By Candace D’Agnolo, CEO of Dogaholics

Hello. My name is Candace and I’m a dogaholic.

I’ve been a dogaholic “legally” for the last decade, but I know in my heart and soul that I’ve been a dogaholic my whole life.

I moved eight times before junior high. So when I had to say good-bye to classmates and neighborhood kids every year, my only constant and consistent friends were our family pets. So when it was time for me to start a career, creating a pet business seemed like a natural fit.

My vision for Dogaholics was to be a small retail store and serve my local neighborhood with healthy food and treat options. But, that was small thinking!! I eventually learned that when you dream big, you start living what I call the “Top Dog Life”!

Over the last decade, Dogaholics became more than just retail products by expanding into doggy daycare, grooming, dog walking, branded merchandise, speaking engagements, classes, online educational programs and now business coaching… connecting pet parents and petpreneurs all over the world!

Maybe you started your pet business because you wanted a more fulfilling career. Or perhaps it was because you liked dogs more than people. But as your business grows, you quickly realize it’s less like playing with puppies all day and more working like a dog.

I’ve been there. Working like a dog has been a consistent theme in my adult life. After dealing with massive construction around my stores and employees stealing from me in the height of the recession, I hit the danger zone in 2010 when my business and personal life were failing. I had $200k in business debt and wasn’t generating enough income to pay my bills. I was working 16-hour days on a regular basis; I gained 50lbs and my marriage was suffering. Instead of giving in to the anxiety and stress, I turned it all around and have since brought millions of dollars into my business. I travel around the world and live a stress free life with my canine kids.

Why do I mention all of this? Because while it’s my unique story, our roller coaster rides aren’t that different. Life and business is a roller coaster. Starting out slow and chugging along, then speeding ahead – faster than you can seem to keep up with. There are ups and downs, and turns ahead that you don’t even see. If there’s one thing I’ve learned after running my own company for ten years, you better like riding the roller coaster because it rarely ends when you want it to!

Fortunately for me, I was able to stop the ride for a moment. In April of 2016, I strategically sold the retail division of Dogaholics to Bentley’s Pet Stuff. The economy, competition, internet, and big box stores had nothing to do with me closing. I got the price I wanted and I was able to exit my business exactly how I always dreamed…on my terms.

If you want to stop the roller coaster of business (or at least control the speed) – you must learn what it takes to be a good leader, develop systems around everything, and train your team to thrive.

I look forward to sharing more retail and business tips on how to stop working like a dog and how to start living the top dog life instead!


Learn more about Candace’s life as a dogaholic on Pets Mean Business!


1candaceIn addition to being the CEO of Dogaholics, Candace D’Agnolo is a successful business coach, author, and speaker.  She started Dogaholics as a retail store, and took her initial concept of a brick and mortar location and turned it into multiple revenue streams – retail, services, online informational products, books, merchandise, and now business consulting. Candace is also a board member of Chicago Canine Rescue and loves giving back to her local community. She has helped raise over $200,000 for shelter dogs and find many forever homes. Having a way to give back through her business has been one of the most rewarding experiences of her life.

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