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Inspiring Conversations with Christine Elias of The Urban Dog Group

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christine Elias.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
To start, I earned a fine arts degree in college. At the time, I wanted to be a Radio City Rockette in New York City, but I soon realized that wasn’t going to happen. Even though I come from a family of entrepreneurs, I chose to go into Corporate America. For nearly 15 years, I worked in sales, marketing, and business development for the commercial contracting industry. I was the “door kicker,” working to introduce companies and products to prospective customers.

There were a lot of ups and downs in the industry, and eventually, I got tired of working for someone else. I remember one experience in particular: I was working for a concrete company as the Director of Marketing. I reported to the owner of the company, and during one conversation, I began to tell him something based on “my professional opinion” — and he rolled his eyes at me! Even at this stage in my career, I still wasn’t taken seriously. Being a woman in a male-dominated industry was challenging. My father once told me, “Your face is going to get you in the door, but the only thing that will keep you there in your brain.”

Early on in my career in real estate, I learned a few important lessons. You have to be a people person. You have to have good listening skills. You have to be able to admit when you don’t know something — and then, you have to work to figure out the answer. That’s how you become a problem-solver. And as a real estate agent, I problem solve all day long! How do I get this seller’s house sold and this buyer into their new home? It’s a client-centric job that ultimately boils down to a simple piece of advice: Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I had to hit rock bottom before I could discover my true path in life. It makes me grateful every day. I meditate every morning for 20 minutes and focus on gratitude. It’s important to stay grounded in this industry.

I was in a bad relationship for a decade and divorced him nearly ten years ago. Immediately following, I dated someone for two years, and when that relationship ended, I was lost. I didn’t own a car. I couldn’t afford to stay in my bungalow in downtown Orlando. I got laid off from my job. I quickly found another one, but it was just a job — not a calling or career path.

In 2013, I had to figure out how to get back on my feet. I moved to a less-than-desirable part of town (Pine Hills), found a roommate, and got my real estate license. Beyond my work and housing struggles, my relationship with my family was non-existent. It was tough. For that year, I had my blinders on and just kept pushing forward. I was very angry but also very determined. There was no turning back. I wanted an extraordinary life, and I stayed focused on that dream. Failing was not an option.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about The Urban Dog Group.
As a real estate professional, I knew it was important to distinguish myself. There are 14,000 agents in Central Florida! What makes me different? My passion for animals, specifically homeless animals, was a natural answer. My dog Ripsy (pictured) was the inspiration for The Urban Dog Group. She was with me through the worst times in my life. I lost her in February 2020, and I still think of her every day.

The Urban Dog Group was born out of the fact that I love pets and wanted to identify with other pet lovers. Central Florida is very pet-centric, which makes this niche focus a perfect fit. Many of my clients find me through my website and want to work with me because of our shared love of animals. I understand that pets are part of the family, and that means a lot to them.

Before we go, is there anything else you can share with us?
Although I’ve been involved with animal rescue charities in the local community since 1999, it was during my time living in Pine Hills that I realized the importance of giving back.

I can’t donate my time like I used to (I’m always working!), but I’m very fortunate to have the financial means to help. I’m five years into my time on the Board of Directors for the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando. I’ve also worked closely with Pet Rescue by Judy. I helped build the Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge in East Orlando. In May, I participated in Paws in the Park 2021, which raised an impressive $111,000! Just last week, I gave $300 to a woman who found a cat but couldn’t afford the vet bill.

I started the Give Back program at The Urban Dog Group in 2016. A portion of the proceeds from each transaction are donated to the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando or an animal rescue charity of the client’s choice. Our donations-to-date total over $50,000. When you find a home, homeless pets in our community do too!

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Image Credits

Three images of Christine and Ripsy – Agold Photo Pet Photography

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