Yvonne Galle-Bishop’s love of animals inspires her to treat all pets as if they were her own

by Kelli Tatum

When Stan and Wanda Bacon were called out of town on a family emergency, they were panicked over who would take care of their dogs Abby, Livi and Finley.

“Our dogs are like our children. We didn’t have a lot of time to find someone, and it was very unsettling,” Stan remembers. On top of the family emergency, their house was on the market for sale, causing another level of stress. “It was our realtor who mentioned Yvonne and her pet service,” Stan says. “She had such great things to say about her. We took a leap of faith that day and are so glad we did. Yvonne has been an angel for us.”

 “The dogs took to Yvonne right away.
That was a huge relief.
 I could just tell
from the minute I met her
that she was a good person.”

—Wanda Bacon

Yvonne Galle-Bishop had just started her business, Whiskers and Tails, providing pet services to neighbors and locals throughout the community. When she heard about the Bacon’s emergency, she was eager to help. Within 15 minutes, Yvonne was at their doorstep, ready to meet them and their pups. “The dogs took to Yvonne right away,” Wanda recalls. “That was a huge relief. I could just tell from the minute I met her that she was a good person.”

Now months later, Stan and Wanda use Whiskers and Tails anytime they go out of town.” We’ve tried other sitters that were great, but I always had anxiety over leaving my dogs. This was the first trip where I was not constantly worried about my pups. One of them has abandonment issues and she feels safe with Yvonne. She gives us a true sense of peace.”

Born and raised in East Germany, Yvonne had no idea her life would take such a sharp left turn. Though she had no clear vision of where her life would take her, she certainly never imagined she would own a pet-sitting service.

Yvonne arrived to the United States in 2000, on her first international flight. “I came over to nanny for a family in Pennsylvania,” she remembers with a smile. “I wanted to learn English and find a good job once back in Germany. I’ve always enjoyed caring for others, so taking care of animals just makes sense for me.” She met her husband, John, at the international ball at the nearby naval academy where they married two years later.

She soon realized the sacrifices made by military wives and families, and says she doesn’t take any of it for granted. “It’s a lot of moving. I wasn’t sure how to fulfill my desire to help with the family financially. It didn’t make a lot of sense for me to pursue a degree or certification only to leave it behind in a few years. I was frustrated about starting anything when I knew it would eventually end before I was ready,” she remembers.

As a Navy wife and mother of two to daughter Kaytlin, age 10, and son Mark, age 8, she needed something to keep her available to her family, but that could also provide an extra income for things like vacations and music lessons. After losing her black lab Argos, Yvonne longed for another pet. “He was the first born—our baby. He was there before we started having children and that love has never died,” Yvonne explains. “With two very active children and a husband who has a very demanding job in the navy, I had to really think about how to bring animals back into my life. This business is the perfect solution. I finally realized my dream job,” she grins. Once Yvonne and her family arrived in Carrollton last July, she put a plan in place to make her idea of pet sitting and dog walking become a reality, and Whiskers and Tails was born.

Her children have also brought a new perspective to the business. “This has been a great learning experience for them. They are seeing the importance of hard work and responsibility,” she adds. Yvonne allows her children to visit pets alongside her, playing with them and assisting with walks, as long as the owners approve. Yvonne also offers basic dog training, teaching them to sit, stay and fetch. “I think it’s important for an animal to be well-behaved. It keeps both of us safe and makes for a mutually respectful relationship,” she says.

“I try to think of all the things
I would want to be taken care of
if I were out of town.
I want my clients to know
their pets and home
are in good hands.
No one should have to worry
when life calls them away.”

    —Yvonne Galle-Bishop

Victoria Wright of Carrollton is thrilled to have Yvonne caring for her dogs and uses Whiskers and Tails services five days a week. She had reservations trusting a pet sitter again after one of her dogs was hurt. “Once that trust is broken, it’s hard to give it again. Yvonne has been amazing. All of my worries were gone after seeing her in action with my dogs. She truly cares about them. And she even takes time to say hello to my cat, Spartan, too,” she remarks.

Whiskers and Tails has a team carefully selected by Yvonne personally. She serves the Carrollton, Smithfield and Suffolk areas and uses independent contractors to take care of Portsmouth, Norfolk, and Chesapeake. “I wish I could see all the animals, but that’s just not practical. The contractors I use are an extension of me. They must have a true love for animals and an understanding and respect for their owners. We are not just in the pet business, but the people business, too” she says.

In addition to pet visits (dog, cats and other house pets) and walks, Yvonne offers unique services including pet waste removal and vacation travel care. While visiting pets, Yvonne will bring in the mail, take out the trash and alternate lights and blinds to give the house a lived-in look while clients are away. “I try to think of all the things I would want to be taken care of if I were out of town,”she says. I want my clients to know their pets and home are in good hands. No one should have to worry when life calls them away.”

Yvonne Galle-Bishop has carefully selected contractors who not only share her love for animals but also her respect for their owners.

Whiskers and Tails