SPRINGFIELD – Joshua Whitley has spent his whole life solving problems for other people.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in applied science from Southern Illinois University. This led him to work in information technology (IT) for 15 years as a “computer guy.”
Whitley founded Vibrant Dog (VD), originally called Doggytread, in 2018. According to Whitley, “Vibrant Dog supports pet owners in the health of their dogs through the use of food sensitivity testing, nutritional counseling, and a USDA, organic, certified CBD.” Whitley also has an herbal de-wormer in the works that is close to being released.
“It’s the best work of my life. I used to fix emails and printers and whatnot, and now I’m assisting people with their animals,” Whitley said. “It’s very gratifying and fulfilling for me personally – more so than computers ever were.”
Eugene resident Molly Dixon’s 10-year-old Chihuahua Shammy was struggling to eat, which raised red flags for Dixon because she said dogs usually love to eat.
Dixon purchased a pet health test and found out Shammy is actually allergic to some really common foods: beef and peanut butter. She’s also allergic to leather, so Dixon puts blankets down on her leather couch for Shammy to sleep on.
“It’s a hair test,” Whitley said about the pet health test. “You take some hair, and you put it in a bag for analysis. It checks against 400 different items: environmental sensitivities, food sensitivities, and mineral imbalances.”
Dixon has only been working with VD for about three months but has already noticed a difference in Shammy’s behavior and energy. Since changing Shammy’s diet per Whitley’s recommendations, Dixon said Shammy’s vitality has completely returned and that her energy level is puppy-like. Dixon also purchased VD’s CBD tincture which has helped with Shammy’s runny nose among other issues.
“We’re forever grateful. We feel he saved her,” Dixon said. “She was happy because she was loved, but she wasn’t happy health-wise.”
VD’s customers are not solely local, as Whitley said he has built a reputation within the Rottweiler community and the Pacific Northwest.
About two years ago, Candace Paradis from Brush Prarie, Washington, posted in a Rottweiler Facebook group about her Rottweiler Godzilla’s epilepsy and seizures. Paradis said the woman who runs the Facebook group gave her Whitley’s information and recommended that she reach out to him.
Since working with Whitley, Paradis said 6.5-year-old Godzilla still has epilepsy, but he’s healthier, has more energy, and gets around a lot better than he used to. Whitley has even made a house call to meet Paradis and Godzilla, and he has been helping through providing nutritional care and CBD.
“I can’t even tell you how much he’s helped,” Paradis said. “I was at my wit’s end when I finally got a hold of him because I didn’t know what to do. Nobody knows much about epilepsy… so it was refreshing talking to somebody that was willing to help me.”
While Paradis has no evidence that kibble caused seizures for Godzilla, she has witnessed that his new, raw diet – which was suggested by Whitley – has a much better track record against seizures than from when Godzilla was eating kibble.
Godzilla is on seizure medicine that typically makes him pace at night; however, with CBD, he is able to have a good night’s sleep. Additionally, Godzilla typically gets very carsick, and giving him CBD 30 minutes before a car ride has made that issue practically disappear for Paradis.
Glenna Hayes, a Portland resident, said their consultation with Whitley about a month ago regarding her 2.5-year-old Pitbull Sprout was “the first time I actually felt like someone was listening to me about my concerns.”
Hayes said they were taking Sprout to the vet every other month for mystery gastrointestinal (GI) issues, which became rather costly, especially when the vet suggested a $5,000 adrenal gland test, which Hayes did not deem necessary.
Many of VD’s clients did not even know that pet nutritionists existed nor that they were legitimate. However, the consistent lesson learned was to not knock it ‘til you try it.
Hayes admires Whitley’s expansive knowledge and credentials. Whitley said he is self-taught in many ways, but he does have certifications for food nutrition.
“In 2022, I completed my first canine nutritionist certificate through the Companian Animal Services Institite, and it was good, undergraduate-level, nutrition classes. It’s taught out of a book: ‘Small Animal Clinical Nutrition,’” Whitley said. “I went ahead and completed the advanced canine nutritionist certificate in February or March this year.”
Paradis praised Whitley’s over-communicative nature, saying “I call him anytime, and he stops what he’s doing to help figure out what’s going on.” Dixon and Hayes agreed.
Whitley said that’s “just good customer service.”
“The big difference in terms of my company and any other CBD company on the market is that I’m directly engaging with customers,” Whitley said. “I’m not just an ad on the internet that’s paying for time to get in your face. I’m actually reaching out to customers and getting to know them, and getting to know their animals, and then working with them to solve problems.”
Whitley said his work through VD has been an “honor.”
“I know how important my dog is to my mental health and my emotional health, and if my dog’s not feeling good, I’m not feeling good,” Whitley said. “People were appreciative of me fixing their printers or getting their email going, but helping people with their animals is something that’s so much closer to their heart and to my heart, as well.”