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 husky/golden retriever mix, a black pug, and a chihuahua. 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 as The Doggy Lama.
Bio to come
Anna does kitty visits for us and is known as a “kitty whisperer” for shy cats. Senior dogs and puppies also benefit from her gentle attention. Anna is a professional aerial arts and contortionist performer who can be seen at West Coast concerts and burlesque and other arts events. Her record for walking on her hands is 39 "steps."
Our office manager, Beanie, is a native San Franciscan who has fallen head over heels for the East Bay. She has always had complicated jobs--helping foster youth transition into adulthood, coordinating the distribution of organic produce thoughout the Bay Area, and managing the all-important flow of beer from a local brewery to the community, but the job she loves best is pairing great walkers up with great dogs and supporting our wonderful clients. Beanie currently lives with her tiny orange soulmate, Nora James the cat.
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 ridgeline trail in Strawberry Canyon.
Don't mess with Debbie--she was a Teamster in a former life! One year after retiring from her job of almost thirty years of driving a bread truck, Debbie found that walking her own dogs and her foster dogs wasn't enough to keep her busy, and began doing on-leash dog walks part time. Two years later, Debbie "out-walks" most people we know, and takes one or two dogs at a time out on adventures at the Emeryville Marina, Mountain View Cemetery, or on the leafy sidewalks of Piedmont. Debbie has some of the most enticing dog treats around, which, combined with her "happy voice" keeps dogs smiling at her side. Her personal record is nine (separate) dog walks in a day--she says she sleeps well every night! If you're not already impressed, ask Debbie about her next bike touring trip.
Fabrizzio grew up in a beach town in northern Chile, where he and his family had a series of beloved pet dogs rescued from the street. He has worked in the hospitality industry and at a grooming salon, but his favorite job is taking dogs on adventures in the East Bay hills and to the beach. His own dog is Sugar Bear, a senior mini-poodle who naps on a veritable "princess-and-the-pea" stack of beds. Fabrizzio is Molly's walking and boarding assistant and especially loves spoiling senior dogs with long petting and brushing sessions. In his spare time he works via Facebook to improve knowledge about and treatment for stray and pet dogs in Latin America, especially in Chile.
Gina walked dogs in SF and Marin professionally for two years before she joined our team. Since Gina is a professional comedian and storyteller, you might find yourself laughing as she tells you the tragi/comedy about how she tried to help her neighbor exercise the his adopted purebred wolf or the time the dog she was boarding in her home opened her oven and removed and ate the twenty-dollar steak she had just put in there to cook! Gina and her preteen daughter get snuggles from their indoor cats and are actively involved with Fix Our Ferals' Spay-Neuter-Release program--they feed 13 "outside cats."
Gordon came to us after having worked with dogs for over eight years in a doggy daycare setting, where he managed up to 25 dogs by himself. That was more than enough of such a ratio--Gordon now prefers to do private dog walks and uses only positive reinforcement techniques with dogs (that's also our company-wide policy). Gordon loves to be around dogs every day while getting plenty of exercise.
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!
Jen grew up on an Illinois farm where they had horses, ponies, pigs, sheep, cows, geese, ducks, dogs, and up to thirty barn cats at a time. She retired from AT&T where she was a service technician for 27 years—climbing up and down telephone poles with 30 pounds of tools on her belt! (She says working with dogs is easy and pleasurable in comparison.) Jen walks individual dogs and small groups. In her free time, she loves to redecorate her home and is “addicted” to the home decorating channel. She shares the couch in her home with three cats and three dogs.
Jeysi is an Oakland native with experience with family dogs ranging from small to extra large. She was thrilled to find that her training at the Dog Walking Academy allowed her to understand her family's dogs' behavior. Jeysi left the beauty industry to explore the natural beauty of the outdoors. She has been very committed to her dance troupe dance for the past five years. They do dance battles that incorporate acrobatic quebradita, (her favorite,) as well as bachata, salsa, banda, and cumbia.
Before JoAnn started taking care of dogs and cats, she was focused on newborns and toddlers for 32 years. She first operated a licensed childcare and then was as a professional nanny for 14 years. JoAnn had a blast when she went through the Dog Walking Academy, where she learned about pet CPR and first aid, doggy body language, and pack management. She is a grandma of four grammar school age kids and loves to attend concerts and cultural events.
Kathleen (or Kat for short) grew up on her family's small, organic farm in Indiana, where she helped take care of cows, chickens, pigs, rabbits, and goats. Kat received a B.A. in Peace Studies, and although she loved her subsequent work in homeless shelters and with community peace groups, she went back to school for a degree in veterinary technology in order to make a living. After more than 20 years as a vet tech in small animal hospitals, Kat left the office environment behind when she swapped catheters and stethoscopes for leashes and hiking boots. When not hiking in the hills with her pack, Kat listens to NPR and snuggles with cat and two dogs.
Dog walker Kristen spent two years wrangling dogs in a San Francisco doggie day care before she came to walk dogs for us eight years ago. She and her paramour have two rescue pit bulls, Bully and Mako, who would sleep all day if 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.
Lucia came to us nine years ago with a decade of dog walking and training. She completed dog training school in Texas and loves teaching dogs fun tricks. Lucia has two rescue dogs of her own, a pit bull and a chihuahua mix. Someday Lucia hopes to have her own rescue organization, but she volunteers extensively with local rescue groups, usually fostering bully breed mixes. If Lucia looks a little sleepy on her morning hike, it might be because she was awake multiple times during the night to bottle-feed young puppies. One of those rare native San Franciscans, it took Lucia a few years to get used to the lack of fog over here in the East Bay, but she has finally come to enjoy sunshine. Lucia loves to take long road trips with her dogs.
Marianne does private leash walks and drop-in visits, for which her miniature poodle, Jimmy, is her calm and enthusiastic assistant. Marianne previously worked for a veterinary clinic in Berkeley and at a large boarding kennel in Marin. Marianne is an accomplished jazz singer, so if you hear a lovely voice coming from around the corner at the park, it might be hers, and if they’re lucky, her four-legged clients might hear the tunes she’s working on. She only works for us part time since she is currently attending culinary school. We can't wait to taste the results.
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.
Max grew up in Piedmont and studied biology at Colorado College, where he researched red squirrel predation on flammulated owls nests. Since relocating to the Bay Area, Max has worked as a tree trimmer, at a horticultural nursery, and now as a dog wrangler, where he gets to combine his love for trees and the outdoors with his love for dogs. He plans to begin working towards a Master's degree in Ecology/Botany in the near future. Max's family dog is a senior dachshund named Ruby who comes on his group walks regularly. He is a passionate gardener and recently built a greenhouse where he is cultivating very hot peppers. Max currently hikes a group of small dogs who have big-dog attitudes and does private hikes for a sensitive pit bull who loves to jump and do tricks.
Mike, originally from Southern California, says he is happy to have come up North where he finally feels at home. Mike went to school in Northern Arizona, where he worked all four years on the maintenance crew. In the winter, he had to shovel snow all day, but his most unusual memory was the time he and the other crew members had to find a fellow student's escaped snake. It took two days but eventually they tracked it down in the building's heating ducts. Mike walks groups of dogs in the Berkeley and Oakland hills, and he has some of the most active small girl dogs we've ever seen, including a pug named Ellie that does a wild hare impression you wouldn't believe. Being from So Cal and AZ, Mike's seen a lot of rattlesnakes, thankfully none while working for us. Mike has a degree in restaurant hospitality, and his dream is to open a brew pub. I think we can predict that Mike's brew pub will be a dog-friendly destination!
Nicki spent five years working at a large boarding kennel in Marin, where she became certified as an Advanced Pet Care Technician, before she joined us to do group walks for small dogs and drop-in visits for kitties. In her spare time, Nicki reads and writes and enjoys live music. She has two kitties, a bunny, and a rescue pitbull mix at home—don’t tell her about animals that need a home—she has a soft spot the size of Texas for hard-luck cases!
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!
Rob got into dog walking after two years as a volunteer as a pet chauffeur for Oakland's Hopalong Animal Rescue (bringing newly rescued dogs and cats to and from the vet). He put himself through the Dog Walking Academy and contacted Molly to see if she would mentor him. Rob and Molly hit it off and she asked him to walk dogs for Doggy Lama. When you speak to Rob, you may notice his mysterious accent--it of living in Sweden, London, and other places. In his time off the trails, Rob is a drummer and makes music and sound effects for videos. He and his wife live near Lake Merritt with their cat, Little Meow.
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.
Sonja is a lifelong animal lover and communicator. As a child she was best friends with her dogs, and also communicated with bees, moths, toads, birds, and any other creatures she could find in the remnants of nature in her native Los Angeles. She recently nursed her own dog back to health from renal failure, and has been the caretaker or trainer of difficult breeds, including a fierce, renegade chihuahua and a high-prey-drive wolf hybrid. (Happily, in both cases she made significant progress in re-directing the dogs' less community-oriented passions.) Sonja has a calming effect on animals and gives every dog a good dose of affection before and after walk time. If you hear a beautiful song being sung on a trail in the redwoods, it might be Sonja working on a piece with an appreciative four-legged audience. When she's not walking dogs or snuggling kitties, Sonja is a professional singer, musician and recording artist.
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!
"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