Updated: Oct 7
Ruby Madrigal is the current owner and operations manager for K9 University (K9U), a boarding and daycare center for dogs on Chicago's West Side. In 2016, Ruby hired Shed, a program participant at Urban Autism Solutions, to join K9U as a caretaker for dogs."He's always on time, he comes to work, ready, and he's always in a good mood," says Ruby.
Ruby emphasizes that Shed is incredibly mindful and responsible. One of his responsibilities is to handle the elderly and little dogs, and he does so with care and thoughtfulness. While Shed is a natural at disciplining dogs, he is gentle and has nurtured wonderful relationships with the dogs at K9U, "He is not shy with the dogs, and the dogs love him too. It's like a little party!"
Before hiring Shed and another participant from Urban Autism Solutions, Ruby didn't have experience working or communicating with young adults with autism or related disorders. She says that any initial hesitations she had about hiring Shed were put to rest after she saw him utilize his strengths. She explains that the team trained Shed and focused on "what he knew" and implemented a consistent schedule. After that, Shed thrived in his new role.
After working with this incredible young man, Ruby encourages other business owners to hire capable individuals such as Shed. She wants business owners to know how important it is to "give back and especially to the community that your business is thriving in." For business owners who want to make their workplace an inclusive environment, Ruby suggests that owners start with a small number of hours and to be consistent with the individual's schedule. "It will be fine and affordable,"Ruby assures business owners, "Shed has been a positive asset to our business. We absolutely love Shed."