One of our industry’s brightest flames has been extinguished. Audrey Ulrich, 34, along with her two year old, Rafael, perished in a car accident on October 27th. She leaves behind her husband, Matt and a four month old baby, Xavier. She also leaves behind an entire industry. Our community is in mourning.
Her favorite quote was “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” (Roger Caras)That one line defined her approach to life. Her advocacy of dogs was present in all aspects of her life. From the way she and Matt operated The Barking Lot in Richland, Washington to her involvement with the Benton Franklin Humane Society; www.bfhs.org and Pet Over Population Prevention; wwwpopptricities.org. Her passion, though, was the Tri-City Dog Park. As President of the Tri City Dog Park Society, she worked tirelessly in an effort to make it a reality. Audrey’s dear friend, Chris Walling; recounts “One of the most remarkable things about Audrey was that her passion for life was reflected in so many ways. She loved dogs and their people and believed in her work as a profession rather than a job. She was an advocate for the canine world and the driving force behind establishing the first dogpark in the Tri-Cities, WA area. In her personal life, she was a lively and caring mother. She just enjoyed her boys, her husband and her friends. She was active in her church and community and was part of the team who developed the Alternative Gift Fair, where gift-givers donate to local, national and international non-profit organizations in the names of friends and family. Her passing leaves a hole in many hearts.”
Audrey was a member of Community Unitarian Universalist Church. She volunteered in many of their projects that helped people to regain their lives and dignity.
Audrey’s community involvement extended well beyond the Tri-Cities. She was a driving force in the pet grooming industry. Audrey was a featured speaker at national grooming educational seminars and was recognized with the honor of Highest Rated Speaker 2007. Jan Schoenstadt of Dyno-Mutt in Waban, MA recalls “I attended Audrey’s seminar on dog behavior in the salon at Hershey one year. It was the most helpful seminar I have attended to date. Thanks to her seminar, we now have a client who travels over an hour to our salon. We are the only ones who can bathe Linus without him injuring himself. This is a terrible loss for the grooming community, as well as future groomers who will not have the benefit of her sage advice. She will be missed.”
Audrey was a feature writer for Groomer to Groomer. GTG is a premiere trade publication. Her column, PAWS-ATIVELY POSH, was a must read for all of us. Audrey made the trip to Hamden, CT, to do a feature story on Erin McLaughlin’s salon; The Little Shop of Howlers. Erin remembers “As soon as I picked her up at the train station, it was like I was meeting a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile. She was so easy to talk to and such a sweet personality. She spent a good part of the day at my shop and never once did I feel uncomfortable. She knew how to be in on the grooming, but not in the way. She was able to bring out the best in my salon, both through her words and her pictures. She seemed so down to earth and had a real heart for growth both in our industry and herself. We emailed back and forth several times since then and always her messages brought a smile. I always loved her signature at the bottom. I found it heartwarming and thought provoking. “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” It’s such a tragedy to lose this light we found in Audrey. I only hope we take up her torch and never lose her passion.”
Audrey was always professional and ready to do what was needed. Sally Liddick, President of Barkleigh Productions Inc. worked closely with Audrey. “Audrey was the kind of person who “hit the ground running” and had a depth of enthusiasm for the industry that was contagious. Always willing to share her successes, she became a wealth of information for groomers and was a very popular speaker. But that wasn’t all. She had a thirst for new ideas which drove her to become a great writer, bringing the popular PAWS-ATIVELY POSH series of articles to Groomer To Groomer. When we would need a last minute speaker to fill in, Audrey could do it! And could usually be found in the audience gleaning nuggets of wisdom from other speakers. She would quickly trade hats and help where needed. A rare ability. Audrey will be missed. Not only by her family, who were a great support to her, but by those who knew her in the industry. We didn’t have her long enough. She had so much more to give.”
Audrey had always given freely of herself to help so many. Now her family needs help in the wake of this tragedy. Audrey’s family needs help to cover medical and funeral expenses as well as living expenses. Matt was also injured in the accident and cannot return to work at this time. A fund has been established for the needs of the Ulrich Family. Donations, made out to the Ulrich family, should be sent to the Bank of the West, 1045 George Washington Way, Richland,WA 99352.
All who met Audrey will remember her. Her spirit and giving nature touched all of us. Christein Sertzel, President and Founder of the Wisconsin Area Pet Professionals Inc sums it up best. “As we go through life, if we are fortunate, we meet certain people that make their everlasting impression on us. For me, Audrey was one of those people. An individual so kind, so full of life and passion and tenderness. I cannot help but feel grateful to have known her. Though my friendship with Audrey was so new, her soul and personality left a great and deep impression on me and her passing has left an equally great and deep sense of loss in my heart. I hope that her family knows all of the people she has touched and all of the wonderful ways she has lifted others up. Bless you Audrey and little Rafael.”
Audrey will be missed. We can only console ourselves that our loss is the other side of the Rainbow Bridges’ gain.
I would like to extend special thanks to Karla Snyder, for all of her efforts to keep the industry informed and updated.