I’m not sure how many of you have looked at the tabs on this blog site but I hadn’t looked at the tab Who is Kritter Keepers in a while. In fact, this is one of the first things I wrote four years ago when I first opened my business. I’m reposting this with some updates as lots of things have changed in this Kritter Keepers life and we’ve added to the posse of Kritter Keepers so I’d like to also highlight them as we continue on the journey to help people keep their kritters!
Kritter Keepers is the accumulation of a life long passion for animals. Today, I’m a professional pet educator giving advice to pet parents through my Kritter Keepers blog, Pawbly.com, community speaking engagements and my Kritter Keepers clientele. I am an active volunteer at Mostly Mutts Rescue where I am an adoption counselor, foster mom, social media helper and photographer. I am that crazy dog lady that lives, eats, breaths dogs! To understand how Kritter Keepers was born, I have to go back to the beginning! Update: still volunteering at Mostly Mutts but I’ve also added training to my skill set. In 2003 I started with an online dog training school, CATCH Canine Academy and in 2005 I went to a six-week, hands-on training class hosted at St. Hubert’s Animal Shelter where I did so many things including:
- Slept in a dorm room for six weeks
- Studied like crazy with ten other crazy dog people in the class
- Handled a variety of dogs but worked mostly with very strong pitbulls
- Helped out at the ASPCA center where they rehabilitated scared and an anxious dogs generally pulled from horrible situations
- Worked with two amazing trainers, Pia Silvani and David Moriello (founder of CATCH)
- Graduated with a CCPDT – Certified CATCH Professional Dog Trainer certificate
I’m either the last year of a Baby Boomer or the first year of Generation X depending on what you are reading! My affinity for dogs and animals started at an early age when I refused to go down for a nap unless I was sleeping curled up in the belly of our Collie, Blaze. There were always multiple pets in my household, both dogs and cats. When I was old enough to go to school that’s when I found out that I have secret animal radar! Every loose or stray dog and cat followed me home.
By the time I was 12, I’d rescued a lot of animals and replaced lost dogs and cats to their rightful owners. One day, I was walking home from school by the lake and I saw a man throw two squirming trash bags into the water. It was the middle of winter but that didn’t stop me from wading in and pulling the plastic bags out. I also had the wherewithal to write down the man’s license plate number. Inside the squirming bags was a mama dog — some kind of spaniel — and her four adorable pups. My parents helped me contact the police and give the license plate number. I was a big hero with my picture in the paper but best of all, I got to keep one of the pups. Evidently the daddy was a poodle and the dog, whom I named Bickford Dellvechio or Bicky for short, turned into a lap dog devoted to my Mom.
I wanted big– I wanted labrador! My wish was granted at my 16th birthday with a trip to the pound (we didn’t call it an animal rescue or shelter back then) and a beautiful, shiny lab whom I promptly named Boo Boo (and my father secretly named Big Rose). Boo Boo was an awesome dog and probably should have received a college diploma as she attended as many classes as I did! She was one of the smartest labs I have ever had. She could open doors, unlock gates, do many tricks including opening the refrigerator door! I just couldn’t quite teach her how to open a beer! Everyday during football season, we’d walk from our student slum apartment off of West Pensacola Road in Tallahassee up to the football training field. Almost everyday, Bobby Bowden would come over, pet Boo Boo on the head and say, “That’s a fine looking dog you have there Missy!” After college, Boo Boo stayed on with my roommate’s family as I had moved to the big city of Washington DC in a no pets allowed rental.
it would be four years before I would have another animal. My roommate and I were young professionals working many hours and still trying to have a social life. One day as we were bringing in groceries to our Brownstone in Capital Hill, a very pregnant cat walked into the house and made herself at home. It was cold out and she looked like she was going to pop any minute. So she became Phoebe (I seem to like that name) and we were soon a cat household with five kitties — mama and four babies. Phoebe would take her babies everyday and put them in the big picture window in our front living room where they could get the benefit of the sun shining into the house. Neighbors used see Phoebe carrying out this unusual ritual. One morning, we opened the front door to leave for work and there was a little baby orang kitten who couldn’t have been more than a day old. We took him to Phoebe and she immediately began to care for him and allowed him to nurse. He was about four weeks younger than the rest of the litter. We were able to find homes for all but decided we would each keep one — two boys so we thought. We had a short-haired tiger with a striped tail and a mask around his eyes named Coon and a plump, fluffy grey kitten I named Sid Vicious. We soon found out from the vet that Sid Vicious was a girl! So she became Sidley Anne.
A few years later when I left Washington DC and my roommate we kept Coon and Sidley Anne together. My roommate decided she had enough of DC too and moved to the mountains in New Mexico with the kitty siblings. I moved to New York/New Jersey area to be with my then boyfriend (now husband for 19 years).
Update: Most of you all know I lost Andy to a car accident in January 2016. On September 3rd we would have been married for 24 years. It’s been a difficult journey after his death
I longed for a pet of my own and started volunteering at the Bergen Countyanimal shelter in New Jersey. I really had my heart set on another lab and missed Boo Boo terribly. We lived in an apartment in Hoboken, NJ that had two different dog parks. Our landlords were dog lovers themselves and had given us permission to get a dog. One day a man came in with a purebred chocolate Labrador retriever. I was his intake person. He had a total of three labs, two males and a female, and he had been breeding them. But now he had a toddler in the house and the dogs were fighting over the female so he wanted to get rid of at least one.
Duke was a handsome hulk of a dog but did not have any leash manners and I could barely hold him. Knowing my husband had no dog experience and that we were going to require at least two outings a day to the dog park, I asked if the female was as powerful as this guy. He said no and he was willing to give her to me instead of this guy if I wanted to follow him home . Of course I did and as soon as my eyes met this dog’s eyes we both felt as if we’d come home. She ran past her owners (her name was Duchess at the time and the other choco lab was Duke her brother) and lept into my arms. She was coming home with me. And luckily my fiance agreed!
That was more than 20 years ago and my household has not been without at least one dog, usually multiple dogs and other pets. We’ve fostered animals, found animals and kept animals we’ve found. I have a 14-year old red-eared slider that I saved from getting run over when he was just a baby with an egg tooth. Red-eared sliders, by the way, are not indigenous to Georgia but that’s another story.
Update: technically I’m the proud guardian of six terrific dogs — my old ladies, Phoebe, Bailey and Sophie and my young “guns” Oscar, Bubba and Hunter. Because of fostering, clients, and acquisitions made by my adoptive daughter Mel, The Litt Palace of Puppy Love has had as many as 10 dogs! Something we can do in a pinch but not how we would like to live.
Oscar was a foster dog that I had for over a year. He’s got some issues for sure but he’s extra special because the last anniversary that Andy and I celebrated, Oscar was my 22nd anniversary present and the last present from Andy. Bubba came a few weeks after Andy’s death and from the moment I met that little puppy/baby/monkey face, I knew he was my soul dog, my heart dog. Hunter was a client but when his owners couldn’t handle the 7-month old Vizsla pup AND four human children under the age of seven, I couldn’t resist keeping him. He’s in training right now to help me out as an emotional support animal and eventually as a service dog for some severe anxiety issues I have.
Mel adopted her own dog Beau and Phoebe has defected to the MelPPL.
In March 2013 I finally opened my business Kasey’s Kritter Keepers, www.kritterkeepers.com. I specialize in pet sitting, dog walking, training and pet photography. I continue to enjoy volunteering or animal rescues and am now attending dog training school with CATCH Canine Academy. My goal is to open an indoor activity/training center specializing in Doggie X games like Agility, Dock Diving, Flyball, Treibball, and nose work classes to name a few. I want my center to be a place the entire family comes to play with their dogs
Update: I graduated from CATCH, added training to my Kritter Keepers services. This spring, I tested for and achieved my CPDT-KA and my CPACP. In Fall of 2017 we will be opening Kritter Keepers Club where a dog can be a dog and we focus on a curriculum of dog sports and activities.