By Gregg Parker
MADISON – A native of Jackson in south Alabama, Melissa Cox graduated from the University of South Alabama with honors in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science.
To pursue her career, Melissa moved to Madison and met future husband Michael, a longtime Madison resident. They married in 2009; their son Wyatt is two years old.
“Madison, although more heavily populated, provides Southern hospitality I’ve grown to love from my small hometown. Madison has much more entertainment, restaurants and culture,” Melissa said.
Residents’ community-minded, generous spirit has encouraged the Coxes to get involved. “This community has been so good to us. We’re constantly looking for ways to give back,” Melissa said.
Melissa works as a software engineer for SAIC but in 2013 founded Petz Carlton, “Your Dog’s Home Away From Home”. “We board dogs in our homes. We treat them like part of our family and provide daily photo updates to the pup’s parents,” she said.
In 2015, Michael “decided to abandon his career and become Petz Carlton full time. He has applied his sales and marketing experience to grow our company to seven Tennessee Valley locations,” Melissa said.
The Coxes often hold charitable fundraisers. Mike recently launched the first Petz Panty at an event and collected an entire truckload of food for local shelters. Barks and Boo’s in October will help the American Cancer Society.
“We’re trained in canine body language in behavior … to interpret the emotional state of the client’s pup and create a calm, stress-free environment,” Melissa said. “We train and insure ‘hosts’ that represent our service.” They want to hire five new hosts.
“My husband interviews each host and performs a site evaluation. I analyze their pup’s temperament (for sociability),” she said.
Kya, their gentle-giant Irish wolfhound and their Shih Tzu, Lily, “are stars of a coloring book, ‘How to Safely Greet Dogs.’ We offer free demonstrations in schools. Kya attends so children can practice illustrated techniques. Her size and gentle nature are well received by kids and teachers,” Melissa said.
Melissa and Mike frequent local breweries and food trucks for entertainment. They enjoy local performers, like Dave Anderson. They fish, kayak and visit with friends and family.
“We look forward to many more years of work and play in this wonderful community,” Melissa said.