Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'
Shhhhh... don't tell. It's a secret.
Jennifer Keene has THE best job in the world.
And a kick-ass collection of vintage lunch pails.
"It's hard to find one I don't have already -- and YES, I do have Buffy the Vampire Slayer," she enthuses, "And it WILL be vintage someday!"
Keene is Animal Behavior and Outreach Coordinator for the Bonnie L. Hays Small Animal Shelter.
"I really am so lucky, I get to do all the things I have skills for, and I do them for a cause I'm passionate about," she smiles.
Animals have always been part of her life.
"My older sibling was an Old English Sheepdog," she grins. "There are pics of me learning to walk, my hands on her back, shuffling along with her."
Fast forward to Moxxy, the Australian Cattle Dog aka Tasmanian Devil.
"With Moxxy, learning to be a dog training expert was a matter of self defense," she laughs, "He had some challenges."
Jen and Moxxy frequented Pup-a-razzi seeking training help, and her own talent blossomed. Keene began teaching classes in 2001 and earned a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) designation.
As a dog trainer, Keene said she always tries to remember when she was overwhelmed and frustrated by a new pet — and Moxxy's struggles to function in a world of unpredictable and scary things.
Patience and compassion — Moxxy's gift to her — shine through her eyes when she talks about working with shelter dogs, volunteers, or roller derby girls.
"I love Roller Derby because it is SO empowering for women. For skaters of course, but also for volunteers like myself, derby is an awesome way to meet new friends -- something that can be challenging for adult women to do.
"I feel strong, supported and 'beautiful just as I am' when I am around my derby girls. That's why so many people give time, money, blood, sweat and tears to derby. I helped found Air Raid Roller Girls because I wanted to be part of something great."
Moxxy passed last December, leaving their 10 1/2 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Buffy, flying solo.
Keene's new animal behavior challenge? She just adopted a 15 year old cat from the Bonnie Hays Animal Shelter. She hasn't had a cat in 20 years, but fell hard for the 4.5 pound Tortie after taking her on a Second Chance Adoption segment on KOIN 6 television.
"I took her home overnight because I have to have the adoptable pet at the studio by 6 a.m. I've been doing this once a month for over a year, but this little vintage cat stole my heart," she said with love. "She's like a little old lady cat that looks like a kitten."
"I became that person that was ready to push their way to the front of the line and say "that's my cat!" she giggles.
Jen waited a whole 24 hours to give any viewers a chance to adopt and then leaped on the adoption paperwork.
"Right now, I'm sort of a 'kitt-iot'," she giggles. "But this is GOOD for me! I know how to train a cat as much as I know how to train a wombat!"
Although she does have certain mad skills that may translate.
"I love teaching dogs to walk on a loose leash -- it's my super power!!!"
What are Super-Jen's top shoes?
"These shoes are "So Jen" because they are orthopedic shoes with style! I need major arch support and can't wear most 'cute' shoes," she explained. "HOWEVER, I have a great collection of funky yet functional footwear like these Ecco walking shoes -- that I added colorful skulls to!"
Her delicious skill is vegan cooking. "It's creative AND I get to eat yummy things!"
Jen launched PebblesEatsPlants.com to share her discoveries with the world. "The whole process of shopping for, creating, photographing, eating and discussing food makes me so happy."
If she has a guilty pleasure, it's being in photos with animals. "I can't help myself. I've been in pics with sea lions at aquariums and such. Just LOVE it!!!"
Yes, she kissed a sea lion. There's photo evidence.
"The kiss was very chaste. A friendly kiss, like the Europeans greet. Only with fishier breath. The sea lion, not me."
Jen may also be in front of TV cameras at work, or behind the scenes with shelter pets.
"The only thing I can imagine being better is being a movie star — and I haven't ruled that out," she laughs. "But other than that, this is perfect."
Because this job feeds her heart.
"It's the animals, but it's also the relationship between people and their animals," pausing, sneaky tears sparkling on her eyelashes.
"I'll see a car come tearing in, practically on two wheels, and I'll just know -- someone's here to pick up a lost pet!
"The pure joy, the pet they were worried they'd never see again, is here at the shelter. Safe. That just kills me every time. It's a beautiful thing."
About our Sponsor
Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years. In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare. Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood.
Christy Caballero writes from her soul about animals. She's received four Maxwell Awards from the Dog Writers Assn of America. There are two retired racers (greyhounds) and one kinda neurotic foster greyhound and three BIG RagaMuffin kitties at home who are occasionally impressed enough to let her and her hubby Herb sit on the couch with them.