The Doggy Lama Pet Care Team
Many team members have been with Molly almost as long as she's been running Doggy Lama Pet Care. As our reputation and experience have grown, we've been fortunate to hire folks who bring a broad range of experiences, kindness, and creativity to pet care. Click on each team member to learn more about him or her.
Molly Kenefick–Owner and Founder
Due to her father's allergies, Molly's childhood pet was an Eastern box turtle. Perhaps in reaction to her need for companionship from a more expressively affectionate pet, she became the neighborhood dog walker at a young age. Molly explored several other careers before she decided to leave the office cubicle. She has no regrets. Molly joins the walkers and their packs on the trails nearly every day. She currently shares her home with a a senior black pug who is also her nap coach. Before she started Doggy Lama, Molly lived on a boat for five years with her cat and dog. Her business is named after her longtime companion, Dakota the husky mix, who was also known among friends as The Doggy Lama.
When Aidan wrote to us to see if we were hiring, he described himself as a dog owner, dog lover, and part-time neighborhood dog walker for a decade. Aidan is a long-time resident of Oakland and is father to three children. Previously, Aidan was a cookbook publisher, and has recently worked as a homemaker and as the volunteer treasurer of the PTA at his son's middle school. Aidan is originally from Ireland and has a soothing Gaelic lilt. He is a graduate of the Dog Walking Academy.
Brian comes from a large, close-knit family in San Leandro. Brian tells us that the family's three dogs work as a team to get food off the kitchen counters! Brian swam competitively for fifteen years and coached swimming for seven. Since he worked in a local restaurant for several years, some of the time as a sous chef, Brian wears the chef's apron at any family gathering and is also a very good tipper! As a child, Brian remembers riding on top of his family's giant tortoise, which was in his family for forty or fifty years. His favorite trail on which to hike dogs is the Panoramic Trail in Strawberry Canyon. He is a graduate of the Dog Walking Academy.
Along with caves, sand dunes, and secluded swimming holes, Cato's upbringing in New Mexico included three generations of cats from her piano teacher's intact, (not spayed,) mitten-toed Manx who had the run of the neighborhood. Her cats had varying lengths of tails, depending on the father, but all of them inherited six toes on their front paws. Her love of dogs came later, but now it’s equal to her great love of cats. Cato entered the field of fitness during aerobics' heyday and she and her sister opened their own studio. Cato teaches cardio dance at the Albany Y, and she welcomes you, dear reader, to be her guest at one of her classes. Cato lives in downtown Berkeley with her senior chihuahua mix, Gidget, who arrived at the Oakland SPCA with a cracked jaw and a broken leg, but who has a great life now. In addition to walking dogs and doing kitty visits for us, Cato also offers personal assistance for elders. She is a proud Mills alumna.
Debra grew up on both coasts and currently lives in Oakland with her husband and their Chihuahua/Papillon mix, Ollie. Debra has been drawn to animals of all kinds since childhood. She spent many hours at her best friend's house playing with the family ducks, geese, dogs, and pet skunk! As a child, she would race to pet a new dog on the sidewalk as her mother shouted from behind, "Ask first!" After recently transitioning from a program management position to part-time community liaison work, Debra sought something that would complement her new schedule and connect her to one of her passions: dogs. Along came Doggy Lama, and the new chapter begins.
Dorothy has been Molly's friend for two decades, so when she told Molly she wanted to quit her office-bound bookkeeping job and get out in the sunshine, Molly was excited to bring her into the fold. Dorothy and her husband have a "Brady Bunch" of a family with a combined six children and ten grandchildren, which she says has honed her adaptability. Dorothy specializes in puppy care and especially loves when she gets to meet with trainers to learn how to use positive-reinforcement training to help puppies become happy, stable adult dogs who are comfortable in a wide variety of settings.
Heather was an attorney for 25+ years doing public-defense type work before she decided she would lawyer only half time to have a more relaxed life. We're so lucky she came to work with us. Fresh from the Dog Walking Academy, Heather gushed that it was her most useful and fun educational experience. Her hobbies are dancing to and making Scottish music (she's a fiddler) and taking long backpacking trips.
Jacob grew up around a variety of animals and cared for many while working on ranches in California's Central Valley, where he grew up. He studied fine arts and English literature in college with an interest in education. Jacob says he fell into working with dogs almost by chance and was able to combine his teaching interests with his love of animals. For the four years before he began walking dogs with us, he worked at several Bay Area doggy daycare facilities where he handled groups of dogs, trained dogs and their guardians, and managed an entire facility. Jacob says this is his favorite dog-related job. For some reason, his packs are almost completely comprised of huskies and labradors!
Jeysi is an Oakland native with experience with family dogs ranging from small to extra large. Jeysi told us that her training at the Dog Walking Academy has allowed her to understand her family's dogs' behavior. Jeysi (pronounced "hey C") left the beauty industry to explore the natural beauty of the outdoors. She has been very committed to her dance troupe for the past five years. They do dance battles that incorporate acrobatic quebradita, (her favorite,) as well as bachata, salsa, banda, and cumbia.
Josh and Molly met one weekend over the community table at the Arizmendi bakery, when Molly admired the origami butterflies he was creating. They chatted about work and life, and by the time Molly had consumed her coffee and pastry, she and Josh were plotting to get some dog and cat care into his life (on the weekends, anyway, since he has a full-time job during the week). Josh has had dogs big and small throughout his life. His hobby is making beautiful large-scale origami installations to celebrate life and community events.
Kendrae is originally from Pittsburgh, PA. where she and her dog, Missy, were outnumbered by their house full of cats. She studied architecture and did graphic design before she pushed away from the cubicle to have a more active work life. Four winters of walking dogs in frigid Chicago convinced Kendrae to discard her snow boots and long underwear and move to California. When she's not doing private on-leash dog walks or drop-in visits for cats, or helping in the office, she is probably crocheting in front of the TV or reading a book.
Kristen spent two years wrangling dogs in a San Francisco doggie day care before she came to walk dogs for us ten years ago. She and her husband have two rescue pit bulls, Bully and Mako, who would sleep all day if they were given the opportunity. Kristen once had a bunny named Albatross who was a "testament to learned behavior—" he grew up with dogs and seemed to think he was a dog—he was potty-trained and joined the actual dogs in the family at the door to greet family members when they came home! Kristen has studied and performed ethnic dance professionally for a dozen years—including in Cuba, Haiti, Ghana, India, Palestine, and Tajikistan. We love to see Kristen perform at local events. She is a graduate of the Dog Walking Academy.
Lea has grown up with dogs all her life, and has a huge heart for all animals. She has experience caring for fish, snails, turtles, parakeets, dogs, and cats. She has a sweet and sassy rescue dog named Bear who is a Chow Chow and Newfoundland mix; he gets a lot of attention wherever he goes! Lea plays the viola with Kensington Symphony Orchestra, and enjoys performing and playing chamber music at local venues and friends' homes. Lea would like to eventually transition from her tech job to full-time pet care.
Lily loves hiking and trail running with her rescue dogs, all three of whom originally came from Taiwan. In her spare time, Lily loves cooking and is currently exploring bread baking. She's been making food for herself since kindergarten. During the school year, Lily studies architecture at Cal Poly, so our clients only get the benefit of her gentle touch and mindful attention on school breaks, but we're always grateful to have her helping out when school scheduling allows.
Lisa has been a longtime Doggy Lama client--her wacky, energetic spaniel mix, Cleopatrick, loves hiking with Aidan and his pack. Lisa is a recovered chef/restaurateur and longtime preschool teacher, and now works as our office manager. Her sweet old-soul terrier mix, Tula, also joins the office crew some days. Though no longer cooking professionally, Lisa still cooks passionately, and never misses the Saturday Berkeley Farmer’s Market. She loves hosting dinner parties and always knows what she wants to cook next. She looks forward to getting to know all of the pets and their respective people at Doggy Lama!
Marley grew up in New England and felt isolated during the cold winters, so she always planned to go to college in California. She graduated with a fine arts degree and painting with oils is her passion. When she’s not painting or walking dogs, Marley likes to read and watch scary movies, or hang out with her boyfriend, Jacob, who is also a dog walker with us. She has a twin brother who is also her best friend and they had pets together that included cats, dogs, hamsters, and fish. Marley can’t wait until she lives in a place in which she can adopt a rescue dog from a shelter.
Matt studied creative writing in college so it doesn't surprise us that clients tell us he writes some of the most entertaining dog walk reports around. After college, Matt traveled in South America for six months, including a month volunteering on a wildlife refuge in Bolivia where, believe it or not, he was asked to give the resident rescued spectacled bear a daily walk. This involved full concentration and situational awareness--there was no way to daydream and also be safe! With bear-walking experience under his belt, Matt decided he would like to become a dog walker. Matt joined our team after he and Molly met at the Advanced Dog Walking Academy.
Michael comes from a dance and circus background. He is fascinated by how the body conveys what we experience and feel. After he adopted his dog, Reggie, he became enamored with dogs' emotions and body language and became a student of dog behavior and the countless ways that dogs teach us to be better people. Michael will attend the Dog Walking Academy in April of 2019 and he is very excited to be part of the Doggy Lama team!
When Nora went on a five-month volunteer trip to Kenya, she amassed nine dogs, a cat, and a rabbit. The animal floodgates had opened! When she returned home, her first rescue showed up, a tiny black kitty that turned out to be feral. Living together this past decade has been wild, but also snuggly. Another black kitty in need of a home also appeared and joined the mix. Over the years Nora has rescued and re-homed a number of stray or abandoned cats. Though she is a cat whisperer, she loves dogs too, and enjoys in-home visits and neighborhood walks for those animals that do best with a little more individualized TLC. Nora’s background is in creative writing and editing. She teaches local creative writing classes, edits manuscripts, and works as a writing and editorial consultant for businesses. Working with animals has brought her joy and balance, and she feels lucky to be spending part of her days somewhere other than a computer screen!
Sarah is a lover of pups and has two of her own, Elaine and George. When she is not hanging out with her furry friends and walking dogs, she is in the ceramics labs or teaching kids about clay. In her free time, Sarah likes to be in nature and especially loves hikes in Redwood Regional and camping in Big Sur. Sarah hopes to one day combine her love of dogs and art with mental health recovery.
Sarah is an East Bay native who grew up with a strong love of nature and a passion for expressing its beauty through the visual arts. Throughout her childhood, Sarah checked out myriad dog-related books from the library, and would daydream about owning her own dog hotel. After graduating from college in Portland, Oregon, with a Studio Art degree, Sarah missed the California sunshine and Mission-style burritos and decided to return to the Bay Area. She began volunteering with the Milo Foundation and met Molly while walking her foster dog, Homer, at the Albany Bulb. Sarah is over the moon to be working with Doggy Lama and believes she has found her dream job. Dog walking combines her loves of dogs, taking in inspiring landscapes, solving problems creatively, and wearing fanny packs. Sarah will attend the Dog Walking Academy in April of 2019.
Sasha has been an animal lover since a very young age, and has shared her home with dogs and cats since she was old enough to talk. When she was just nine years old she started her own dog walking company, and soon had six neighborhood clients! Since moving to the Bay Area for college, she worked with animals in a variety of settings, from doggy day care to an animal shelter, and now with us. Sasha currently shares her home with Tanuki the Pomeranian rescue. Sasha's favorite urban dog walk spot is the Emeryville Marina, and in her free time she practices aerial silks at her gym. Sasha is our full time floater, so she covers for dog walkers who get sick or take a vacation and she is a graduate of the Dog Walking Academy.
Spenser’s work history before Doggy Lama was mainly in the music industry, but after more than 15 years in the music industry, he decided to keep music as a hobby and but move his favorite mode of relaxation, walking dogs on the trails, to become his work life. When we asked Spenser during his interview if he knew East Bay trails and he pulled up his pant leg to show us a tattoo of the leaf logo for the East Bay Regional Park District, we knew we had found a serious trail lover! Spenser is an Oakland native and his favorite hikes are in Redwood Regional Park and Sibley Volcanic Preserve. Spenser has had many dogs and considers them better than humans.
TJ has been been deeply connected to dogs and cats for as long as he can remember. (His family's household always had more rescued cats and dogs than children--and there were six children.) For a couple decades TJ was a musician and writer, but has more recently worked professionally as a dog walker, dog trainer, and training supervisor. TJ has soft spots for challenging high-drive dogs, senior dogs, and total goofballs. TJ does human massage and is initiated in Second Degree Reiki. With this "hands on" base, it's been natural to connect with dogs and cats through offering respectful, calming touch, which has led TJ to start getting certified in canine massage. TJ is thrilled to be a part of Doggy Lama's caring, positive-only approach and he is a graduate of the Dog Walking Academy..
Tom retired from contracting after 30 years and has had dogs all his life. He and his family raised Tibetan mastiffs and later Skipperkes. He recently became a grandpa for the second time. He lives on a sailboat in the Berkeley Marina, on the same dock where Molly lived for five years, with his rescued Skipperke, Sassy, who is his enthusiastic dog walking assistant. Tom is a graduate of the Dog Walking Academy.
Lucky dogs get leash walks and fortunate kitties get drop-in visits from Vanessa, who left the corporate world to join the furry set. She has an impressive Oakland pedigree—she comes from a family of educators and community activists, and although Vanessa has traveled around the globe twice, she loves her hometown of Oakland best. One Vanessa pet care secret she is willing to share is that she sprays her sneakers with catnip spray before visiting a new kitty!
Will came to us through fewer than six degrees of separation. At his high school reunion in Connecticut, he told a classmate, who happened to be an old friend of Molly's, that he was getting tired of the antiques business and wanted to work with animals. His classmate connected him with her pal, Molly, and the rest is happy dog and kitty care history. Will grew up with dogs, chickens, a duck, and a guinea pig.
Yolanda’s family has always included animals such as dogs, cats, chickens, geese, and ducks. When she was a girl, the family dogs, Thumper, Whiskey, and Orpheus were her caretakers as they explored their Spokane neighborhood together. She really got into the dog game in 2014 when her dear sister gave her a little Yorkie/Jack Russell terrier pup. With this gift came the great responsibility to learn to give her pup the tools for living her best life in a city. In the past five years, Yolanda attended Karen Pryor Academy’s Professional Dog Training Certification school and walked groups of dogs at Fort Funston, trained puppies in the Outer Richmond, and trained adult dogs in her private practice. Now her number-one passion is to help East Bay dogs and people live their best life!
"Molly helped us turn our anxious, anti-social (non-aggressive) dog into one of the most well adjusted social dogs around!"
-Lauren D. on Berkeley Parents Network