A love of animals translates into focused, patient modification of unruly behavior

By Stu Watson

Kelsie Scroggins of Kind Animal Services takes a break from training Wednesday, a client’s dog.
Kelsie Scroggins of Kind Animal Services takes a break from training Wednesday, a client’s dog.

Tina Castanares and Paul Woolery dearly love their rescue dog, Boogie Woogie. They thought they understood him, too.

“I’ve always had dogs,” Tina says. “But I’m completely naive. I usually had rescue dogs. Our latest rescue dog—he’s the apple of our eye—but he had an anxiety disorder. He was kind of shy. We didn’t know how to train him.”

Lucky for the couple, Tina’s sister-in-law had picked up a silent auction training session with Kelsie Scroggins of Kind Animal Services.

“After one session and seeing her philosophy, that seemed perfect with our shy guy,” says Tina, who calls Kelsie, 25, a “dog whisperer.”

Kelsie was 5 years old when her parents, Tina and Jesse Scroggins, moved to Parkdale.

Early on, Kelsie took to animals like a bird to the sky.

“I’ve loved animals my whole life,” she says. “I grew up with animals. I had goats that were my best friends. They would jump on the trampoline with me.”

Kira, a Belgian Malinois, shows her “sit” technique for owner Kelsie.
Kira, a Belgian Malinois, shows her “sit” technique for owner Kelsie.

She also had rabbits and a cockatiel, but her focus always turned back to dogs.

Until she was 14, the dogs in Kelsie’s life came through choices her parents made. Then she took a job as a kennel hand at the Cascade Pet Camp in Odell, and got her first “personal” dog, a purebred border terrier she named Greta Rose.

Kelsie took Greta Rose to work with her, and took classes there to train her.

“I did agility with her,” Kelsie says. “She was very independent. She did tricks, and we did talent shows.”

Greta Rose led something of a star-crossed life, owing much to her escapist tendencies. The first time she got out and was hit by a car, she survived a broken pelvis.

The second time, Kelsie says Greta Rose was playing a cat-and-mouse chase game in the road before she ran directly into an oncoming vehicle.

After a year without a dog, Kelsie tried to take her father’s new black lab puppy, then fell in love with the Belgian Malinois breed.

“They’re very intense—a trainer’s dog, like border collies,” Kelsie says.

She has had her own Belgian Malinois, Kira, going on seven years.

Unschooled and unskilled dog owners shake their heads in amazement as Kelsie puts Kira through her paces at Hood River’s Waterfront Park. Kira weaves between Kelsie’s legs as she steps slowly forward. Kira plays dead when Kelsie “shoots” her finger. Kira rolls over. Kira chases and catches a Frisbee.

Kelsie didn’t set out to become a trainer, but one thing led to another. She led the K9 Crew Dog 4H Club for six years. She fell into a dog-walking and dog-sitting service, and struggled to figure out a path forward while working other jobs in retail.

“She’s very entrepreneurial,” Tina Castanares says.

Using a crate is part of the tool bag Kelsie uses to gently modify dog behavior.
Using a crate is part of the tool bag Kelsie uses to gently modify dog behavior.

Kelsie says she had an early interest in studying business. She also had a passionate interest in psychology. After internal reflection, trial and error, reading and online classes, it all shaped into a vision.

“It drew me right back to animals, because it fascinates me how their brains work and ours work, and how they are similar,” Kelsie says. “I realized I should focus my interest in psychology on dogs. I’d like to incorporate all animals eventually. Right now, I’m taking online classes about cats.”

Kelsie is a member of the Pet Professional Guild, which provides training and fosters an adherence to force-free training. For example, no shock and prong collars.

“Animals are intelligent,” Kelsie says. “You just have to understand how their brains work. Using pain to train is outdated. It’s like hitting students with rulers in school.”

Kelsie says training a dog is like building a house: It all starts with the foundation. In this case, it’s about “getting your dog’s attention, getting them to look at you, to trust you and respect you, but without dominating to earn that,” she says. “Then they look to you for answers when they’re insecure. So we start with eye contact.”

Tina says Kelsie helped her and her husband realize their dog was acting out of fear.

“Boogie was really shy, and barked at guests, and they weren’t aware that what they were doing was scaring him more,” Kelsie says. “We got him some basic training to build his confidence.” Kelsie says some pet owners aren’t prepared to help their dogs improve. “It makes me sad to see an owner who isn’t willing to do what they need to do,” she says. Kelsie pauses, then chuckles when she says she thinks such pet owners are the ones who need a shock collar.

No such thing is needed for Tina and Paul, who Kelsie says are good to go. “Boogie is on his way to being a really great dog,” she says. Tina and Paul, however, may not be ready to graduate. “She’s just been wonderful,” Tina says. “She’s very disciplined. She has told us she thinks she could let us go.

“But now we have new goals. We keep upping the ante on what we want Boogie to learn.”

For more information, go to www.kindanimalservices.com or call (541) 806-0050.