Born in Vietnam, Tram Toadvine came to Florida with her family at the age of 9. She graduated from George Jenkins High while dual enrolled at Polk State College, and continued on to the University of South Florida for a bachelor’s degree in business, which she achieved at 19.

The first in her family to attend college, Tram wasn’t sure what career path to choose. After a stint in banking, Tram realized the corporate world was not where she wanted to be.

“That and my love for animals is what pushed me to open my own business,” said Tram. “My husband, Nick, and all my family were very supportive of this big dream. As for others, I knew there were doubts, and I wanted to prove them wrong.”

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Tram is now happy to live her life doing what she absolutely loves. Her pack, besides her husband, Nick, includes a pit bull named Lucy, a great dane/bulldog named Roscoe, and a bullmastiff named Bear.

The journey to open Southern Paws was not easy. It took Tram months to find the perfect location, and then another year to build it out. Tram said, “Anything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong. From bad contractors to missing opening deadlines, it made me feel so defeated. But I knew there had to be something bigger and better for my pets and other people’s pets in the area, so I pushed on with my dream.”

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“And bigger and better was what we got! When finished, the 8,000 square foot building was filled with dog suites, kitty condos, an indoor playground and more.”

Now Tram has four employees plus the groomer, DeeDee Hornbeck. “I work amongst the best people anyone can ask for. Everyone here has dogs and cats of their own, so they know how to spoil them rotten. They go above and beyond what I expect of them, but considering we’re all doing what we love, it’s not hard.” said Tram.

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The staff at Southern Paws focuses on offering a healthy and active lifestyle for the dogs in daycare and boarding, but that doesn’t mean all work and no play. From doggie birthday parties to the splash and play pool parties, the dogs at Southern Paws learn that good behavior means loads of fun. “I want for other people’s pets what I want for my pets,” said Tram, “and that is knowing they are safe and having fun while I’m away. I love being able to bring my dogs to work and get the same joy as my clients out of having a safe and fun place for them to be.”

What’s in the future for Tram? “People all over, even some out of state, always ask if there is or will be a Southern Paws in their area. One day, I will be able to say, “Why yes! There is!”Southern Paws Resort Madi