Nikki Stewart, co-founder of Sugar's Gift, wanted to be a veterinarian from the time she could walk (maybe even before that). It may sound trite, but working with animals was Nikki's true calling in life. It was a given that she would be a veterinarian. The only unknown was what type of practice she would own and specialize in. Would it be small animals, large animals, exotics or would she become a racetrack vet?
She grew up with an assortment of small and large animals at home and began working for a local veterinarian when she was 14 years old. She worked with that vet through her freshman year in college. She also worked at a local horse racetrack with the veterinarians at the detention barn, or test barn as it is sometimes called, every summer, through her college graduation. The test barn is where veterinarians run post-race tests on certain horses to make sure they are not carrying any illegal substances in their system.
Nikki attended Purdue University during her freshman year of college, majoring in Pre-Veterinary Medicine. She volunteered at the Purdue Veterinary School while attending her freshman year in order to learn more about her calling. So far, the "given" scenario was working out - yes, she would fulfill her calling and become a veterinarian, right?
Wrong! After she got home from her freshman year at Purdue, someone very close to her dissuaded her from fulfilling her destiny. Nikki was told, "You need to remember that one day you will be married, have a family, and you will be on call 24-hours a day. What kind of life is that for you? Your obligations as a wife and mother always come first." Unfortunately, Nikki took those words to heart and, considering the source, decided she should push away her dreams, and not pursue that career. Instead, she became a CPA and has owned her own company since 1993. She loves what she chose for a career, but something was always missing.
Nikki's love for animals and her need to help them never stopped. She and her husband, Ken (a fellow animal lover and co-founder of Sugar's Gift), rescued their first animal in 2002 -- Guido, the Jenday Conure (a small variety of parrot). Since Guido's rescue, they have rescued a total of 5 Yorkshire Terriers, 3 of which they still have due to these Yorkies' mental and physical limitations and prior abuse. Nikki and Ken have also rescued 2 more birds - MimiBird, a Sun Conure, and Virgil, a second Jenday Conure. Their rescues extended to exotics when they rescued a Green Iguana named Iggie, who lived on their lanai for 8 years. Iggie mastered a way of escaping from their lanai and (hopefully) is somewhere on the Stewarts' 5 acres, or the 48 acres of preserve behind their property.
When her beloved Sugar passed away in 2013, Nikki and Ken saw the circumstances as a way to give back and help other animals who are in such pain, as their sweet Sugar was. Those other Little Angels will need the services of a non-profit organization to come to that pet's home and help the Little Angel cross the Rainbow Bridge from home with comfort, dignity and peace. Giving Nikki the opportunity to work with, and help animals, and allowing her to realize her true calling in life, is Sugar's Gift to Nikki. It is the best gift she has ever, or will ever, receive.