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, 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.
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 Panoramic Trail in Strawberry Canyon.
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.
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 his adopted wolf-dog or when 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."
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!
Jasmine came to us with ten years of pet sitting and on-leash dog walking. She is a bit of a dog behavior nerd and reads books by science-based, positive-reinforcement dog trainers in her spare time. When she's not hiking groups of happy dogs in the hills, she is probably at band practice, (she is in several bands,) or honing her skateboarding skills.
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 for the past five years. They do dance battles that incorporate acrobatic quebradita, (her favorite,) as well as bachata, salsa, banda, and cumbia.
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 her cat and two dogs.
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.
Dog walker 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.
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.
Lucia came to us ten 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.
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. He is very excited to be part of the Doggy Lama team!
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. 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!
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.
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.
Shelby graduated from art school on the East Coast a few years ago, where she began walking dogs professionally to pay for school expenses. She is a ceramicist by trade and passion, but when she's not firing clay, she walks dogs in the East Bay hills, with her assistant, her small freckled mutt named Gunther. Shelby says that she never heard of group dog hikes in Maryland, where she walked dogs on leash and mostly on concrete, and that her East Coast dog friends would be very jealous if they knew what our client dogs were up to on the trails!
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.
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.
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. These days he shares his pillow with his longtime kitty partner, Carlyle, and is happy to show anyone who needs a dose of kitty cuteness the more than 350 photos of Carlyle on his phone.
"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