Diane Dudenhefer spends her days scouring building sites for dog poo.
Equipped with rubber gloves, a rake and a bucket lined with a trash bag with a handle, Dudenhefer puts on a real crime podcast or some of her favorite songs as she roams the client’s property in a criss-cross checkerboard pattern – at least for the first few times.
Dogs are regular creatures, so once she’s cleaned a yard for several weeks, she knows where to look.
After the pickup is complete, Dudenhefer cleans all of his tools and shoes with a virucidal solution. She removes the bag of poo from the bucket and places it in another trash bag, where it will be taken to a landfill for disposal.
Every yard is different, but the average job takes about 20 minutes from picking up gear to cleaning.
Dudenhefer, 52, moved to Oxford in 2021 after successfully launching Doody Happens, a pet waste disposal service, in New Albany five years earlier.
These days, her workdays consist of going to her clients’ yards in search of what their furry family members leave behind, which she dutifully puts in a plastic bucket as she goes. measure.
Before starting her somewhat unique business, Dudenhefer spent five years working at a Memphis oncology clinic as a medical assistant where she got to know many patients and their families.
It was hard, sometimes painful work, and after losing a dear friend to metastatic breast cancer, Dudenhefer decided enough was enough.
Already an outdoor enthusiast, Dudenhefer decided to look for a job that would allow her to work outdoors. And as everyone knows, when nature calls… well, someone has to answer. Why not her?
Dudenhefer and Teri Diaz, her close friend and Doody Happens business partner, based their business concept on a similar business started by one of Diaz’s friends in Memphis.
Knowing there was no company providing this particular service in northeast Mississippi, the friends started Doody Happens in New Albany in 2016. They had seven clients in the first year.
“I wanted to leave Memphis and go somewhere else,” Dudenhefer said. “New Albany was a place to start this business and then work our way up.”
At the end of 2020, Dudenhefer moved to Oxford, taking the business with her. It operates five days a week in Oxford and Tupelo, with at least 60% of its customers located in All-America City.
Although Diaz continues to be a partner, picking up the poop is a one-woman operation, and Dudenhefer has grown the business to 85 customers in residential homes and apartment complexes.
At first glance, Doody Happens may seem like a bigger company than it actually is, but customers appreciate the personal touch.
“I build relationships with them because I text them every week,” Dudenhefer said. “They’re getting to know me and I’m getting to know them even though we may never meet in person.”
In 2018, Dudenhefer bought a Chevrolet Colorado and had it wrapped with a custom design created by Diaz’s niece, illustrator Beth Spencer. The packaging features Diaz’s dog, a Corgi named Calvin. The original wrap was created by a company in Memphis, but FastWrapz in Tupelo has updated and maintained it.
Dudenhefer often sees people taking pictures of the truck. Whether they’re kidding or hating the design, she invites people to share photos with their friends or post them online.
“It’s the best free publicity I could ask for,” she said.
If you ask Dudenhefer, there are plenty of good reasons to get dog poop out of your yard.
For one, it helps keep the grass healthy. Dogs don’t eat grass like cows and horses, so their poop won’t work well as fertilizer. Because their diet consists of meat by-products, dog poop can actually damage a lawn due to acidity.
“Letting it sit there, raining it down, also breaks it down to some degree until it gets diluted in the ground,” Dudenhefer said.
Simply providing a clean space for pets can be beneficial due to their habitual nature.
Often, dog owners leave their dogs in the yard and may not monitor their pet’s waste for potential health issues. Dudenhefer takes care of it. If she notices anything out of the ordinary, she contacts the customer to let them know. She even offers to send a photo so they can get their pet treated.
But the biggest selling point, by far, is convenience. At the end of the day, people just want the poop removed from their garden.
“They call me because it’s a service, it’s convenient and they don’t have to,” Dudenhefer said, adding that it’s like paying for lawn maintenance, cleaning the pool or food delivery.
Prices for Doody Happens’ services vary depending on how often a client wants their yard cleaned and how many dogs Dudenhefer will be cleaning, but the starting rate for weekly cleaning is $14 for one dog. Each additional dog, up to four, adds $3.
Dudenhefer bails out in all seasons and most weather conditions except for heavy showers and lightning.
“I am always in communication with my clients,” she says. “They know when I’m not coming and they know when I’ll come if I can’t come that day.”
One of the positives of her day is meeting new furry friends.
“Not all customers’ dogs are outside,” Dudenhefer said. “But when they are, I love it.”
She keeps Milk-Bone dog treats on hand, and although she doesn’t clean up after the cats, she keeps treats for them in her vehicle for when the occasional house cat stops by to visit during a job.
Dudenhefer said she would continue to be Doody Happens’ sole scooper for as long as possible.
“I’m always open to clients and I just see where it takes me,” she said.
Ideally, that would be more dog poop.