Alumni Success Story: Kevin Burke
By MINDY SCHAUER
Kevin Burke has a client list 100 names long. Names like Leroy, Bruno, Piper, Charlie, Doc, Lily, Truman, Betsy, Sophie, Bella, Reggie and Scooter. Ranging from 10 to 175 pounds, they are canine clients of Burke’s Newport Beach-based dog-care company, Newport Tails.
In the beginning there was one client: Precious. Burke found her in 2010 with her leash wrapped around the walker of his 98-year-old neighbor, Laura Wilkening. Burke asked if he could help, and Wilkening told him, OK, walk Precious twice a day every day starting today.
A business was born. Burke scheduled classes around his dog clients while studying entrepreneurship at Cal State Fullerton. Today Burke is 27 and providing walks, training, socialization, overnights and more.
Once there was a boxer named Lou, the client who ran away. He ran away to Burke. “Lou made his way to my house, and jumped the fence to get into my yard to play with the other dogs,” Burke said. “It gave me a good laugh.”
The dogs – some belonging to Newport’s rich and famous – make Burke laugh a lot. They seem to like being part of the pack.
For example, there's Murray the Labrador. He bucks like a happy bronco when he spots Burke's van coming up his street. "Your friends are coming! Your friends are coming!" croons his owner, Shannon Wadsworth.
And Precious? Burke still walks her twice a day for 102-year-old Laura Wilkening.