Derrick Vidas is the owner of Midwood Barkery, an Oakhurst establishment offering doggie day care, boarding and grooming for Charlotteans and their fur families. He is a vibrant presence in the Charlotte pet business world and is always innovating new ways to show pets that they are loved, including pet portraits, an array of herbal bath options (check out the Itch-B-Gone: cucumber melon, oatmeal, aloe vera, and a warm coconut rinse), and a full salon (the website promises mohawks!). qnotes spoke with him about his experience as a business owner in Charlotte, the role dogs have played in his life and how humans can make sure to give their dog friends all the love and care they deserve.
How long have you lived in Charlotte?
[Since] 1994, sometime in January. I remember it was snowing that day. My father was a Navy sailor and a photographer. He retired from service in 1993 and my parents finally dry docked us here in Charlotte shortly after.
What motivated you to start Midwood Barkery? Have you always been involved in animal issues?
I have always loved animals. I had a pet sitting business at age 11 and even back then I felt my calling was to care for them. Life takes a few turns, but ultimately has led me here to a place where I don’t even have to go looking for animals that need me. When Midwood Barkery opened, I remember thinking at the time that we had bought a zoo. I still get that feeling sometimes; in a good way, only not starring Matt Damon.
Have you faced any challenges as a result of being a queer business owner in Charlotte? Do you feel that the business and pet rescue landscape has been pretty welcoming?
Being gay and a business owner hasn’t been a deterrent for myself, and I think that’s hopefully a reflection of where our city stands. The community has been supportive from the very beginning and many of our clients are members of the LGBT family. It’s been encouraging to watch, as I’ve felt from the very beginning that Midwood Barkery should be a place for everyone.
Midwood Barkery offers a lot of services, some standard ones like boarding and training but also some more specialized, unique services like herbal baths and pet portraits. What inspired you to go above and beyond with services like that?
Being able to offer specific things to our clients is the most exciting part for me. It’s like Christmas morning when something new and fun arrives that I know will excite our customers as well. Ninety-nine percent of the time my dogs are the test pilots, and we’re always searching for new experiences to bring to our guests. I try to bring the things that I love directly to our clients, and it’s a truly rewarding experience.
This issue of qnotes is “Pets are Family,” and its partially about the ways that pets can enrich our lives and become part of our social support. Many of us have been lucky enough to have a dog sit in our lap or lick our face when they can tell we’re sad, stressed, or lonely. Do you think dogs are particularly empathetic animals?
Dogs are the purest of souls I can think of. Dogs teach us simplicity. They bring us up when all else fails, and the mutual bond that is formed is unlike anything in the world. On our worst day, a dog can sense that and will comfort us accordingly, no questions asked. I think dogs are particularly empathetic. They may not know how to process those emotions, but instead show us through countless displays of affection.
What have dogs taught you in your years of working with them?
Working with dogs continues to educate me on a daily basis. Love,humility, loyalty — those things just come naturally to dogs, and I think we can all agree that they don’t ask for much in return.
We all know dogs have incredible senses of smell, and for humans, smell is the sense most closely tied to memory. What smell sparks the most associations for you?
Funny you should ask; I remember the smell of a perm processing. My mother is a cosmetologist, and I’m pretty sure I rode shotgun to quite a few sessions under the hooded dryer.
What are some things dog owners can do to make their dogs happier?
My advice to dogs owners: just love them. Give them the best life. Spoil them every day.
Do you have any dogs currently? How do they make your life better?
I have two mini Rat Terriers named Jethro and Lewe. We’re bestest friends.
What do you like the most about yourself?
I think knowing yourself is a lifetime of hard work. I love that I wake up happy every morning, generally speaking, because I never forget to be grateful. I think being grateful is an important part of the journey we’re all on, and it’s something I’m always mindful of.
What accomplishments from your life are you most proud of?
I’m proud of my little company. It was a blip on my radar that took me by surprise. Sometimes you find things you didn’t know you were looking for, and sometimes they find you. That’s got the makings of a first-rate country music song.
What would you still like to accomplish?
I don’t know what is next. I hope a lot of adventure. I think you just have to be grateful and present in this moment and be glad when you’ve made it to tomorrow.