Appreciating the Heroes – Our Kennel Staff

Kennel staff, Jen, Ann, and Lori wearing masks with a guide dog in training across their lap and retired guide at Lori's side with text Appreciating the heroes-our kennel staff over the image.

They are there 365 days a year, keeping Fidelco German Shepherd Dogs healthy, happy, and safe—this describes the tireless, hands-on work of the six members of Fidelco’s kennel staff. While their work often goes unseen, these dedicated people ensure that each of the dogs in their care receives the physical and emotional support essential to their well-being. Staff members come from different backgrounds that include prior Fidelco volunteer work, certification as a veterinary assistant, dog breeding, and doggie daycare work. But they all share one common trait—a love of dogs—and support of Fidelco’s mission. “Their job is to be the best advocates for the dogs by making sure all their needs are met, so Fidelco can provide our clients with happy and healthy guide dogs,” says Kennel Manager Lori McClain-Russak.

Each day, members of the kennel staff perform a variety of tasks to provide the dogs with a positive and enriching experience. This includes providing them with appropriate toys and playing music and audiobooks throughout the kennels, so that the dogs are soothed and learn to expect new noises. Staff members also regularly assist other members of Fidelco’s dog care team—those in the Puppy Raiser Department, trainers, and Veterinary- Medical Department staff.

They work with the Puppy Raiser Department to ensure that pups coming in for brief kennel stays have a positive first experience, provide trainers with daily observations of the health of each dog after early morning checks, reinforce basic training skills, and assist Veterinary-Medical staff in handling dogs undergoing X-rays or vaccinations.

For puppies coming in for their first kennel stay at six-months old, kennel staff help with coordinating pen assignments, including the placement of cots and toys, and providing special treats when they arrive. These young pups are given long walks during the day and special attention in the evening. Staff members check dogs in-training each morning (“wellness rounds”) to ensure they are in good health before working with their trainers, dispense medications, provide treats after dogs’ daily training, and give kenneled dogs their meals.

On weekends, kennel staff walk all kenneled dogs and provide enriching playtimes. Staff are also responsible for the care of boarded female dogs in heat and bathing and grooming guide dogs prior to client placement. To ensure that Fidelco’s kennels are maintained at the highest level of cleanliness, kennel staff clean and disinfect all indoor and outdoor kennels daily and ensure that clean towels and bowls are always available.

Members of Fidelco’s kennel staff can be depended on to do whatever is needed for the well-being of the dogs in their care and are always advocates for the dogs and Fidelco’s mission.