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Howard turns his passion for dogs into a career

By Isaiah Rhodes
On December 18, 2011

If you see Omari Howard walking some of his dogs on campus, do not be surprised; he owns 12 of them. Howard, a guard/ forward for the University of Bridgeport Purple Knights men's basketball team has a unique hobby that has taught him many lessons outside of the basketball court, which involve the dogs.

Howard has been running his own kennel, breeding pit-bulls (American Bullies) for three years, along with being a math major in his senior year of school. With all of these stressors during college life, how did Howard's love for dogs turn into his own business?

"I've always had this love for dogs," Howard said. "I'm CEO now, but it actually started from a buddy of mine in New Jersey who really got me started. It's actually a hobby, something extra to occupy my time."

Time is something Howard rarely has nowadays. This is his first year getting extended play on the court for the Purple Knights. Because he has been in the system for four years as a player, Howard knows how it feels to wait for his number to be called, but he bided his time on the bench and now it is paying dividends.

So far this season Howard has played in all seven games and is averaging 14 minutes a game, 3.4 points a game, three rebounds a game while shooting 56%. He feels his strongest contribution to the team though is providing leadership and working hard. Howard attributes some of his patience and work ethic to working with his canines.

"It's a patient process; I'm not going to lie it was tough," Howard said. "But I was there cheering my teammates on every day. Now that my time has come I have to capitalize on it."

Capitalizing on that opportunity has helped Howard put many things in perspective. Running a business, maintaining his dogs, playing basketball all while going to school give him short gaps in the days, but he says he has gained appreciation for the time he does have.

"My gaps of time usually go to my dogs," Howard said. "You really notice how much free time you have, when you are doing something you like. The dogs taught me how to make better use of my free time, and getting rid of the unimportant stuff."

Not taking anything for granted has allowed Howard to appreciate the little things on a heightened level. The affection and effort that he gives to them, is what he strives to give to his school work, and the basketball court.

"There are days where my dogs teach me things," Howard said. "If I throw the ball 25 times, 25 times my dog will go get it. That's work ethic. That's what you have to do. Apply that to basketball; if you want the ball bad enough you go get it."

That dedication shows why Howard is no stranger to success in the class room. In the fall of 2010, he made the President's List. The academic standard that you have to maintain to make that list is a 3.8 GPA. Howard followed that performance up with a Dean's List appearance in the spring of 2011, and he is aiming for the Dean's List once again this semester, with his eyes on a May 2012 graduation. With all of this on his plate some would wonder, how does Omari Howard do it?

"It's a pretty good balance," Howard said. "I feel that I am balancing both pretty neutrally.  Can I balance one more than the other or can I Improve on both? I believe I can and that is something that I work towards every day."

Those gaps of time that have kept Howard away from his dogs have ironically helped the business expand as far as Virginia. Howard has also charted calls from as far as Puerto Rico and France. With that ambition in hand, how far does Howard plan on taking this hobby?

"I thought about going in depth with it, while still maintaining my professional career," Howard said. "It's not something I want to do completely and forget about my professional career right away, but if the opportunity knocks and it does go global than I will take it."

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