Hi, I’m Royah
"Dogs have saved my life."
Owner & Head Trainer
Ethnicity: Dominican & African American
Community: LGBTQ & Bipolar 1 Warrior
Background: I grew up in Queens NYC & always had an interest in dogs. I was never an "aww so cute, can I pet your dog?" type of kid. It was always "What kind of dog is that? Why does he do this or that? What kind of food do you feed him? What does he know how to do? Wow, so cool!"
I would go home and bug my parents to use the computer and take me to the library so I could learn more about animals, dogs in particular. Never in a million years did I think dog training would be my lifetime career.
We always had dogs, but could never keep them. Oddly enough, my family are not dog people. My father is from the Santiago, Dominican Republic. Dogs are viewed very differently out there. As far for my mother, any animal that required picking up poop was nothing she wanted to live with. Looking back, we did everything wrong with our dogs.
As I got older and started going to school and working, I always felt like this just wasn't it. Criminal Justice, Audio Engineering, Pilot School, working in retail, working with kids, working for a law firm...
No, no, no, and no. It just wasn't working.
I landed a job as a dispatcher, worked 13 hour shifts 6 days a week, making a great salary, and was completely miserable. My mental health was all over the place and Bipolar 1 was literally beating me to the ground. After 6 years of this, I started looking for something I actually wanted to do - DOGS. Breaking into the industry can be a challenge with no professional experience, being a dog lover is never enough on a resume.
I decided to switch to the nightshift. I worked from 7PM to 7AM, and would volunteer at animal rescues and shelters afterwards. I volunteered for 1 year before I was able to get my first professional handling position offering minimum wage. This was a huge decision, the salary was nowhere near dispatching. I also knew that if I didn't take the chance I would feel lost forever and I would of hit the unsubscribe button on life - seriously.
By that point, Uber was just born and was quickly eating up dispatching. The ship was sinking, and I jumped off.
The Break: I was happy with my new job, but I was broke. Throughout this, everything fell apart. I came out to my family as gay and the reaction didn't go as I imagined. I ended up getting kicked out. The dog handling company closed down, the dispatching positions at my old job were filled, and I couldn't get hired anywhere.
I had some money left and would stay at hotels applying for jobs until a big time training company reached out to me - the interview was in a completely different state.
I gambled my last bit of money, rented a car, drove to the interview and nailed it. The position came with a company car and it became my bedroom for months. I was doing well and made an okay salary, but it still wasn't enough to get my own place in NYC. There's only but so long you can live out of a car, take showers at the 24 hour gym, and go to work pretending everything is fine.
I finally surrendered and entered the Women's Help Shelter in Brownsville Brooklyn, a 400 bed facility in 2018. Because of my mental health, I was placed in the Transitional Living Community inside the building - a program for homeless women with various mental health disorders.
The Birth of Quing Canine: Calling the homeless shelter "stressful" is an understatement, that's a whole other story in itself. I felt like I slipped through the cracks when it came to getting help. I didn't have kids, no domestic violence, and was very functional despite struggling with Bipolar 1.
All of that equals to is "You are own your own".
A year into the shelter, I went from sad and afraid to angry and cold hearted. I was still working for a dog training company, but as of that point I wasn't satisfied. I was still broke! Playing catchup with bills before I surrendered to the shelter, trying to fix my credit score, saving to get out, and avoiding "shelter politics" as much as I could.
I was finally offered a housing voucher which was also a joke - landlords don't like renting to people who live at homeless shelters. They would say NO before they even looked or had a conversation with me. I was a great dog trainer and decided I wanted my own business to make a bit more money on the side so I could hopefully save enough to get out on my own.
Once a year, the homeless shelter does a story with the New York Times on one "star resident" of the shelter. My caseworker asked if I was interested and I hesitated. I was embarrassed of being homeless, my entire story, and having my mental health on display to the entire world. I took some time to think, and decided to accept it.
Once the article was published - BOOM! I was getting leads and working my own business after 9 hours of working for someone else. People all around the world were sending me messages and letters of encouragement and support!
My days off were strictly for Quing Canine. Fast forward 3 months after the article, living at the shelter was slowing me down. I had people who wanted Board N Trains, clients who needed me during the hours I was working for someone else.
I estimated I had enough saved to live and pay rent for 1 year. I jumped on Craigslist, found a dog friendly apartment, and gave him 6 months rent upfront before he hit me with a "NO". I packed up my locker, purchased a blow up bed and a plastic dresser from Walmart, and ended the shelter episode. I stayed with my full time job for about a month, continuing to work Quing Canine after hours and off days until I wasn't afraid anymore.
Once I got my balance, I left my full time job and continued building my own.
I've been working Quing Canine full time ever since.