Monthly Archives: June 2017

Who is the Kritter Keeper…

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!

Who is Kritter Keepers?

Sled Dog Camp in Alaska with sleeping puppy

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.

 

Life is full!  Life is good!  Life is dogs!

Rescue, Breeder or Both?

puppy loveThis is a very tough question because I’m personally involved in rescue but my love of dogs and the individual breeds makes me also a prime candidate for a pure bred.  The truth is I have both.  My two pure breeds (a lab and a vizsla) are rescues of a sort as the families that owned them couldn’t deal with or handle them.  So Lesson One is that there are sometimes pure breed dogs available at your rescue.  At Mostly Mutts, we’ve had Shelties, Boxers, Pomeranians, Great Danes, English Bulldogs, Chihuahuas, Pugs, Shih Tzus, Beagles, Lhasa Apsos, Poodles, Miniature Pinschers and the list goes on.

But most of those dogs were not puppies so what do you do when you want to get your pure breed puppy?  Lesson Two is that if you want a pure breed, do your homework and find a reputable breeder.  So today, I’d like to talk about what to look for in a reputable breeder.  In my profession, I see a lot of puppies that are in homes because someone walked by a pet store window and knowing nothing about the breed but spying this little package of puppy goodness, they had to have it.  Getting a puppy is not an impulse buy! Here are the Kritter Keeper’s rules for getting the right puppy for your family.

  1.  Research the breeds and what the right fit is for you and your lifestyle.  If you like to lie on the couch all day then you should not an Australian Shepherd as Aussies like to work all day running around and herding everything!  Maybe look at one of the less active companion breeds like a Chihuahua or Brussels Griffon.  If you are looking for a larger dog, believe it or not Greyhounds are big couch potatoes or something giant like a Great Dane or Mastiff.
  2. Research the breeder.  I would prefer to work with a breeder that is acknowledged by the AKC and fits their standards.  There is a laundry list of things I want from the breeder.
    • Certificate of Health — I want to know that some of the genetic things that a breed is prone to are not in the genes of her line.  For instance, hip dysplasia in a German Shepherd or blindness in a Dalmation.  To know what health risks a breed is known for see #1 on this list.
    • Home visit with at least Mom if not Mom and Dad on site.  I want to make sure I am not supporting puppy mills so I’m going to want to see what environment my puppy is growing up in and I want to check the temperament of Mom and Dad.  I  want to see the puppies before I choose and how they interact with the rest of the litter and the parents.  I also want to make sure that the breeder is providing an interactive experience for the puppies to help them with their cognitive functions.
  3. Understand the genetic lines of the dog — maybe the breeder has more of a show dog line versus a pet dog line.  If you aren’t going to show then perhaps you would be better suited to a pet dog line.

Whether you get your new puppy from a rescue or from a reputable breeder, enjoy all the puppy kisses!

 

What does CPDT-KA Mean?

In my field of pet services there are not any hard and fast rules as to who can put out their shingle advertising their services as a dog trainer.  Sometimes you luck into finding a wonderful trainer who has read everything under the sun, has mIMG_2623any years of experience and has a wonderful rapport with the animals.  And sometimes you find a “trainer” who taught her own dog to sit so therefore she’s a dog trainer. So I became a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA).

Since there is no legal standard, the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) was established in 2001.  The CCPDT is the leading independent certifying organization for the dog training profession. The CCPDT is the leader in the development of rigorous exams to demonstrate mastery of humane, science-based dog training practices. Thousands of dog training professionals worldwide maintain the CCPDT’s certifications as a mark of high professional distinction.

Before I could even sit for the test, I had to prove I had the following qualifications:

  • A minimum of 300 hours’ experience in dog training within the last 3 years.
  • Provide a signed attestation statement from a CCPDT certificant or a veterinarian

The last requirement was to sign the CCPDT’s Code of Ethics.  This, to me, was one of the most important pieces of becoming a CPDT-KA.

A certificant of the CCPDT pledges to abide by the following:

  1. To operate as a certificant without discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, physical limitation, marital or familial status, sexual orientation, religion, or political beliefs.
  2. To assist clients in establishing humane, realistic, training and behavior goals in accordance with the CCPDT Humane Hierarchy Position Statement.
  3. To understand and fully comply with the CCPDT Training and Behavior Practices Policy.
  4. To use training and behavior modification methods based on accurate scientific research, emphasizing positive relationships between people and dogs and using positive reinforcement-based techniques to the maximum extent possible.
  5. To always provide for the safety of clients and animals in training programs and behavior consultations.
  6. To act with honesty and integrity toward clients, respecting their legitimate training and behavior goals and the autonomy of their choices, provided they conform to societal and legal standards of humane treatment for their pet.
  7. To refrain from public defamation of colleagues, respecting their right to establish and follow their own principles of conduct, provided those principles are ethical and humane according to the CCPDT Humane Hierarchy Position Statement.
  8. To provide truthful advertising and representations concerning certificant qualifications, experience, performance of services, pricing of services and expected results; to provide full disclosure of potential conflicts of interest to clients and other professionals.
  9. To refrain from providing guarantees regarding the specific outcome of training.
  10. To use properly authorized logos and credentials provided by the CCPDT when marketing in print or electronic media.
  11. To obtain written informed consent from any client prior to photographing, video or audio recording a dog training session.
  12. To work within the professional boundaries of the CCPDT certifications and individual expertise and refrain from providing diagnosis, advice, or recommendations in areas of veterinary medicine or family counseling unless certified to do so. This does not preclude referring the client to a veterinary or behavior consulting professional.
  13. To maintain and respect the confidentiality of all information obtained from clients in the course of business; to refrain from disclosure of information about clients or their pets to others without the client’s explicit consent, except as required by law.
  14. To be aware of and comply with applicable laws, regulations, and ethical standards governing professional practices, treatment of animals (including cases of neglect or abuse), and reporting of dog bites in the state/province/country when interacting with the public and when providing dog training or behavior consulting services.
  15. To keep accurate and complete records of clients, their animals and the training and behavior services provided; to ensure secure storage and, when appropriate, confidential disposal of such records.
  16. To continue professional development as required for maintaining the CCPDT credentials in accordance with the policies of the CCPDT.
  17. To refrain from making material misrepresentations as part of the application for certification or recertification.
  18. To maintain and respect the confidentiality and security of the contents of any and all certification examinations of the CCPDT including, but not limited to, refraining from: stealing portions of, or the entire, examination(s); removing written examination materials from a test or meeting site without authorization; reproducing and/or disseminating examination materials without authorization; using paid test takers for the purpose of reconstructing an examination; using improperly obtained test questions to prepare person(s) for the examination; cheating during an examination; impersonating an examinee or having an impersonator take an examination.

If you are looking for a dog trainer in your area and you can’t come to see me please go to the CCPDT website to find a certified dog trainer in your area!

 

The Pros and Cons of Board and Trains

As much as I like to portray a gruff personality, the truth is I can’t say no, especially when it cscoobyomes to animals.  Opening Kritter Keepers Club is a dream come true for me because it will allow me to say, “Yes!” more.

I’m saying yes to board and trains where I can exclusively work with a dog 5-7 times during the day at their lessons. Board and trains are great for learning basic obedience, housetraining, puppy basics but I don’t feel like they are good for extensive behavior modifications for aggressive or fearful dogs.

Lately, those are the clients that want a board and train. Depending on the dog’s triggers, being in a strange environment can send him over the edge. When a dog shuts down there is not a whole lot of learning going on and what can happen is the opposite of what trainer and owner really want — now the dog’s fears are associated with a facility or the trainer or the method of training. Then there’s what happens when the dog gets home…

We are always learning more and more about how our animals learn and retain information which is a great boon for the dog training world.  Misconceptions about fear-based or aversive training can be argued against using data from studies rather than emotions.  So what we do know is that consistency is key so when a dog returns home from a board and train it is essential that the humans are trained as well as the dog is!

Everyone should be using the same verbal cues, same visual cues.  A dog’s humans should practice these newly gained behaviors all over the house.  And don’t forget the rewards!  If you want to get a dog to continue to do these behaviors rewards are a must!

dog

At Kritter Keepers Club, we will offer board and trains in our dog-sports oriented facility. To help facilitate the transition to the family environment, we will have different Kritter Keepers working with your dog and we will proof each behavior.

Board and trains are not inexpensive so before you sign up, make sure you understand what you are getting.  You should not only understand how much one-on-one training your dog is getting but how much time he’ll be alone, how much time will be dedicated to teaching the humans and and how long you have to follow up with the trainer if issues occur.  Your board and train trainer should be able to provide you with a schedule of what your dog is learning and that should coordinate with the skills you are trying to build with your pup.

shepherdMake sure you get all the info you need and make the best decision you can!

A Full House at the Litt Palace of Puppy Love!

 

Mike and Carol Brady have nothing on me.  I am up to the same number of kids the Brady’s had plus a few others longer and shorter term guests.  In other words, there’s no room at the inn!

We’ve now divided my home into the LPPL and the MelPPL — my roommate and adopted adopted daughter Mel’s space.  I also have to report that although technically I own six dogs on paper, one of them, my soon-to-be 13 year old lab, Phoebe, has defected from the LPPL and hangs out in the MelPPL.  So here’s the LPPL line up:

 

On the MelPPL level we have her guy Beauregard Lee, adopted from Mostly Mutts and came to us via a hoarding case in NW Alabama.  We also have Lucy, a beautiful shepherd mix who has been staying with us while her family gets adjusted to live in South Carolina.  And then there is the defector Phoebe.

 

There are some adjustments that need to be made.  We use a lot more crates now!  Because of temperament we do keep some separation when the humans aren’t home to supervise.  I do not recommend this living environment for the faint of heart!  You’ve got to be very dedicated to keep everyone and everything clean, happy and loved!  But, what they give back to us is worth the hard work.