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Jay Lowry

Cuspids and Kennels

By Raphael Maurice

“Don’t be afraid to work hard. You should work hard. But don’t stress about the little things. Just enjoy the ride, because it’s fun. I mean, life is fun if you allow it to be.”

“It was a place I never wanted to come back to, but a place I would never leave now,” Jay Lowry shares about Vandalia. Born and raised here, today Jay runs a successful dental practice, loves his hometown, and raises English Cocker Spaniels. His voice is even and kind, the sort of voice you’d like to greet you at your next dental appointment. Jay attributes his success to his kindness, passion, and treating people with the utmost care. He’s never leaving, and that’s good for all of us. He knows the advantages right in front of him in Vandalia. “There are huge benefits to being in a small town and in a town that I grew up in, because I typically know almost everybody that walks in the door, and I have a connection to them,” he says. As far as his practice is concerned, Jay’s philosophy about how he treats his employees is simple: “Family first.” For Lowry, this is more than good business; it’s a truth that each person working for him treasures. They’re not just numbers; they’re people Jay genuinely cares for.

The road to dentistry for Jay was a natural one. “I was a biology major in undergrad. And being a biology major, you’re like two inches above having a high school diploma. I mean, what are you gonna do with that? So the decision had to be made. What am I going to do?” he remembers. “I had several friends in undergrad who were going to medical school, and that was not appealing to me at all. Dental school as a profession made a lot more sense to me. And it’s been a good fit.” But, as if running a full-time dental practice didn’t keep him busy enough, Jay Lowry also runs Ryglen Gundogs, importing and raising English Cocker Spaniels from the United Kingdom. From bicuspids to canines, this guy does it all. It’s natural to wonder how this all came about.

“I was into Labradors for about ten years. So starting twenty years ago, I raised and trained Labradors for a kennel in Mississippi called Wild Rose, which is a very well-known nationally recognized organization,” he relates. “In February of 2013, I went to the U.K. with the owner of Wild Rose, just to visit different Labrador kennels. A friend of ours arranged for us to rabbit hunt with Cocker Spaniels, which, at that point, I thought, ‘This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.’ But I walked away from that morning of something I thought was going to be a waste of my time saying, ‘I don’t care if I ever see a Labrador again. I want these.’” What started as a seemingly pointless obligation turned into another passion and business for Lowry. And Ryglen Gundogs is creating relationships in and around Vandalia.

Lowry continues, “So in June of 2013, I started importing them. And again, what was supposed to be just getting a dog to have fun or hunt, or maybe raise a litter, has turned into people on a waiting list wanting dogs – that’s a year and a half long to get a puppy,” he says. “Dogs go all over the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The coolest thing is we don’t ship dogs anywhere. If you want a dog from me, you come to me, look me in the eye. I live in Brownstown. Last weekend, we had 60 people come to get puppies from us. We had 23 puppies going home. People from all over the United States came to Fayette County, which they’d never come to for any other reason, to get a dog from us.” Ryglen Gundogs, like Jay’s dental practice, benefits the community, in no small part because of the ethical and responsible manner in which they are operated.

Lowry’s kennel is an equal-opportunity enterprise. “We’ve had people fly in private jets to get our dogs, or they may drive in a beaten-up truck. I mean, it’s all ranges of people,” he says. “But the cool thing is when you walk into the kennel, because you’re there to get a dog, everybody is on the same playing field. Everybody has the same thing in common.” Whether it’s treating a patient with tooth pain or treating the folks at the kennel with kindness and openness, Lowry is a unifier, bettering the place he’d never leave.

We asked Jay what words of advice he might have for his younger self, words of reflective wisdom to pass on to anyone willing to listen. For a man running two successful businesses and doing more for the community, Jay had our attention: “Don’t be afraid to work hard. You should work hard. But don’t stress about the little things. Because sometimes, in 24 years of a career, the things that kept me up at night usually never came to pass, which is typically the case in life. But just enjoy the ride, because it’s fun. I mean, life is fun if you allow it to be.” What does allowing life to be fun look like? It might be, for Jay at least, treating your patients and workers well, treating them as if they were family. It could be pursuing passions like running a kennel and doing that well, too. It could be just listening and saying to yourself, “This won’t happen. The things I’m worried about most likely are negative nonsense.” Jay Lowry seems to think so, and wouldn’t life be fun if we could too?

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