Dena Matera (owner operator)
What happens when a you mix a dedicated animal lover with an entrepreneurial spirit? Just ask all the lucky creatures ever cared for by Dena Matera of Got Dogs? in Truckee, CA.
If they could talk, Dena’s animal friends would certainly praise her exuberance, warmth, and passion. Raised alongside German Shepherds, a lizard, and a parakeet Dena learned early on about gentleness, connection, and loyalty.
It is that spirit—that deep understanding and connection with animals—that gave Dena the inspiration to start a pet care business of her own. In preparation, she attended dog shows regularly volunteered at Truckee Meadows Dog Training Club. In (year) Dena earned her dog training diploma. Eventually, her dog, Shakti, joined Dena, and together they received a Canine Good Citizen Certification. This gave them the opportunity to work in hospitals with the disabled.
Currently, Dena continues to develop her professional understanding of animal psychology and behavior along with building her professional relationships. In addition, Dena’s own family has grown. Now, the proud mother of two, Dena is busier than ever. Fortunately, due to Got Dogs? success, her business has expanded along with her family. Dena has hired a dedicated and trusted crew of helpers to assist her in providing dog walking and pet sitting services. So, these days, Dena speaks of Got Dogs? as “we” not “I” because she sees her business as a team (and family) effort. According to Dena, “It’s the best job I could ever imagine — walking, playing and cuddling dogs daily. I just love meeting new dogs — and their people. Many of my clients are now friends. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
“I can survive with my dogs. I will survive because of my dogs. They provide love, safety, warmth, and knowledge. I know now and forever they are my guardian angles. I will forever be grateful and loyal, I know so will they to me.”
-Owner of Got Dogs, Dena Matera
Stephanie VosWinkle (full time assistant)
Growing up in Los Angeles as an only child, Stephanie considered her pets family. Stephanie’s closeness with her two dogs, lizard, hamsters, and cats naturally led her to work with animals in a Los Angeles-based doggy daycare and lodging facility. When she moved to Tahoe, Stephanie took a position as a veterinary tech assistant at Agate Bay. She then took receptionist positions ﬁrst at Sierra Pet Clinic and then at Tahoe-Truckee Pet Lodge where she worked for two years. Over time, she learned what caring for animals meant to her. So when Stephanie happened to see an ad for dog walkers, she jumped at the chance. She has been with Dena and Got Dogs? ever since. Rarely without a dog by her side, Stephanie does make time to pursue her other passion, snowboarding. She enjoys ﬂying down mountain runs at full speed. But most often, her precious companion, Daphne, keeps Stephanie feeling warm and loved while she curls up to crochet. “It has been the best time of my life,” says Stephanie speaking of her work with Dena. “This job allows me to get out and explore my neighborhood with a bunch of doggies I love to care for and play with.
Kathy D’Onofrio (part time helper)
Kathy is passionate about animals and has kept a wide assortment of animal companions her whole life—including birds, ﬁsh, and rabbits. In doing so, she developed an uncanny ability to see things from an animal’s perspective. Kathy intuitively understands which dog needs a long run to unwind compared to another who is happiest simply playing fetch. And if a long, undisturbed feline nap beside a caring human is in order, Kathy gets that, too. “I really love all the different breeds of dogs and cats I get to walk and play with,” says Kathy. “They’re all so cute and sweet in their own, unique way.” A devoted mom to her twenty-year-old daughter, Kathy is also a well-seasoned mountain runner and snowshoer. But no matter what, Kathy never gets too far away from her beloved animal companions. Her ability to form deep connections with creatures has even moved Kathy to create animal-inspired sculptures. So, whether she is outside walking dogs or inside talking to cats Kathy and Got Dogs? make a perfect ﬁt.
Jessi Collomb (part time helper)
Jessi a massage therapist, singer songwriter, surfer, personal assistant, life motivator, and lover of all animals! She was born on the beach in Florida, surfing her entire life, bringing her to the shores of Nicaragua, Hawaii, and California. She has recently learned to snowboard and has fallen in love with the mountain life of Lake Tahoe, living in Truckee with her sister Abi Collomb, private chef and Tahoe local of 16 years, she fell into the wave of “Truckee Love”.
Jessi has had animals as pets everywhere she roams, all kinds from dogs, cats, lizards, snakes, and iguanas. Jessi has attended dog training school, and taught at Peggy Adams animal shelter for 2 years. When she moved to Truckee in 2013 she started a small dog/cat watching, walking service for all her Tahoe dog friends. She has cared for every kind of dog from a high energy Whippet mix to an old special needs Rotty/Shepard mix, sometimes having to care for more than one dog at a time has developed her skills as the alpha in every situation. Her gentle caring but direct character keeps all the pups at her heals. She has a natural dominance with all animals and they all seem to fall in love with her quickly. With all of her experience and all the variations of animals she is a perfect fit to care for any animal.
“My favorite thing about caring for animals is the therapeutic companionship, for me and them.”