Daily Freeman Articles

From the Daily Freeman
April 3, 2005
by Jonathan Ment

Doc’s K-9 Obedience, Behavior, Agility and Training:

Run by Karen Garelick, a retired veterinarian, the business opened at 22 Thomas St. in Kingston in October 2004.

Garelick said she grew weary of the 24-hour, seven-days-a-week nature of her practice and took a year off before opening Doc’s in Kingston.

“I opened because my clients demanded it,” she said. “They wanted an indoor arena for winter.”

Garelick continues to conduct private sessions for behavioral consultations and covers a lot of ground between New York City and Albany. She works with everyone from with younger children to older adults, but in the agility and obedience arena, a lot of 40-somethings bring dogs in for training, she said.

“We have brought animals into our home. They’re family members. (But) people have to remember that they still, number one, are animals,” Garelick said. “People have to remember that they live in a pack mentality. They’re incorporated into our daily lives. We have to adapt to their ways so they can live naturally in our lives and homes.

“I think it’s more of getting back into the family unit situation,” she said. “It’s becoming a basic part of our animals to incorporate animals. They teach us compassion, responsibility and develop relationships later in our lives. You become a caretaker for an animal. You’re responsible for an animal’s life. … I love to see a progression of obedience and bond that gets stronger and stronger.”

KINGSTON was an easy choice for Garelick. She said she has many friends in the city and has been training privately in the area, and there really was no place in Red Hook, her area of Dutchess, where she could house the facility.

The 3,000-square-foot, fully matted center in Kingston is used for animal training and agility, obedience and freestyle work – what Garelick describes as “basically having fun with your dog all the way around.”

“What we do with obedience is add structure to their lives,” she said. “Animals, especially dogs, require structure. If they don’t have structure, they start to do bad things and look for attention.”

Garelick works with more than 100 dogs per week. She also works the owners of other animal-oriented businesses, such as Canine Country Club’s Sarah Muir, who is teaching some of her dogs to “dance.”

Photos provided by the Daily Freeman

WHAT’S UP, DOC? Retired veterinarian turns to training dogs and their owners (video)
April 23, 2012
from the Daily Freeman

KINGSTON, N.Y. — Retired veterinarian Karen Garelick said she became interested in animal behavior after she was in an automobile accident involving a drunken driver when she was 12.

Karen Garelick’s yellow lab Jack jumps through a hoop while demonstrating his agility. (Freeman photo by Tania Barricklo)

Following the accident, Garelick was in a coma for two weeks. When she came out of that state, she said, she noticed the animals around her changing themselves to acclimate to her needs and to how she was feeling.

“They were my mainstay because they allowed me to come back into the world,” Garelick said, adding that the animals made her who she is today.

Today, Garelick owns and operates Doc’s K9 Center on Foxhall Avenue in Kingston where she teaches obedience and agility courses for dogs and their owners. She also does therapy work and trains dogs to handle working in a therapy environment where they will be exposed to things they might not normally encounter. Garelick said she also works with dogs that have behavioral issues.
Garelick said she has a talent for working with animals and that talent can be seen even among her own dogs.

Jack, an 8-year-old yellow lab, also affectionately known as a “labrasauras,” was supposed to be euthanized when he was three and a half months old, Garelick said. She said Jack had fear aggression biting, especially with children. The problem, Garelick said, was poor husbandry. She said he was taken from his litter two weeks early at the age of six weeks and went to a family that was overly loving.

That family was constantly “on top” of Jack, hugging him and holding him, Garelick said. She said Jack was scared to death and did not want that. He would try to hide and when the family members went to grab him again, he would bite.

“So, I fixed him up,” Garelick said. “He’s fine. He loves kids.” Jack is one of Garelick’s four dogs, all of whom are rescues. She said he is the one who showed her that fear can be conquered in the proper way.

During a recent visit, Garelick demonstrated the agility and obedience training she teaches. She had Jack navigate some jumps, weave poles and other obstacles on an indoor agility course, rewarding him with treats upon completion of his tasks. Garelick then had Jack demonstrate some obedience training, including responding to commands that had him walk side to side and in a circle around her.
Jack also showed off his skills in a game Garelick likes to play in which she asks the dog what they can do. In that game, Garelick asked Jack, “What can you do?” He then responded by doing a trick, such as sitting and spinning in a circle. He was rewarded with praise and treats.

Garelick said the game allows a dog to think for himself.

“Behavioral issues and problems can be resolved if done in the proper way,” Garelick said. “And also, people have to understand, it’s a lifetime commitment.” She said it is not just a one-time resolution to an issue. It’s something that has to be modified throughout the animal’s life, Garelick said.

Garelick said she has dealt with a lot of problem dogs. The biggest problem dog she experienced was her own half bearded collie, half chow dog, Orso, she said. Garelick said Orso was a resource guarder among his pack.

“It took me four years to get him where he is now,” Garelick said. “And he’s a dog now. He’s literally a dog. Before it was like a killing machine. It was terrible.”

At one point, Orso and another of Garelick’s dogs, Cha Cha, got themselves so tangled up that Orso’s collar ended up wrapped tight around his neck, causing him to stop breathing. Garelick said Orso died until she could bring him back. From that point, it seemed like Orso had “seen the light” and his behavior began to change in a positive way, Garelick said. She said it has been a long haul with Orso, but it has been worth it to see an animal with such rage become a dog that is fine with his pack.

Cha Cha, a half wheaten terrier and half poodle, was born in a puppy mill and was found in a pool of blood by a foster family who took her in. Garelick said she got Cha Cha when she was 5 months old. Cha Cha, she said, has talents as a healer among other dogs and humans.

Garelick’s other dog, Ellis, is a 12-year-old golden lab that she refers to as the ambassador.

“He’s non-judgmental,” Garelick said of Ellis. She said he helps her tremendously in understanding other dogs and the make-up of their personalities. Garelick said she has had Ellis since he was 2 weeks old.

Garelick said her training methods are very positive. She said she uses a lot of treats and positive reinforcement, but she also allows dogs to understand what is right and wrong in a good way. Garelick said people also have to be consistent in the way they treat their dogs.
“A lot of people just don’t understand what a dog is all about,” Garelick said. She said dogs need socialization and need to have more friends with four legs than those with two legs. Garelick added that socialization is key for puppies and that puppies need to be exposed to a lot of different stimuli at a young age.

“I’m such an advocate on these kinds of things,” Garelick said. She said puppies need to be exposed to everything and need to be trained.

Garelick said she is also an advocate of keeping people with their dogs.

In the future, Garelick plans to expand her facility, which is the old Roberti Saab building. She said she plans to add a doggie daycare and to put an apartment in the facility. Garelick said she also wants to start a dating service for dog owners.

Photos provided by the Daily Freeman