In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Kelly Ruddy left Mississippi for Minnesota. She had been laid off from her job in the corporate world and was caring for dogs on the side when her friends suggested she start a business. The result is the New Orleans-based Kanine Krewe (www.kaninekrewedogwalking.com) pet care service.
"My goal has always been to help the community and help local animal rescues," Ruddy says. "When you're working nine to five, you can't really do that."
Ruddy earned a good business reputation in Minnesota, where she boarded and cared for animals in her spare time.
"Powerful breeds like Rottweilers, pit bulls, and shepherds can't always go to boarding facilities," she says. "I worked with animal rescues a lot up there, and they started referring (people to) me. I started boarding animals in my own home and watching [animals] in other peoples' homes." It turned into a full-time business.
She eventually returned to the South, settling in New Orleans. Kanine Krewe serves 20 to 50 clients per week, and Ruddy says she is available whenever clients need her help. "I have jumped out of bed and taken care of emergencies," she says.
Kanine Krewe provides what Ruddy calls "in-your-home pet care."
"Some dogs are great at boarding facilities; I'm not knocking them. But a lot of dogs come back from boarding facilities with anxiety," Ruddy says. "Once the dog gets separation anxiety, it's so hard to curb, it's so hard to manage."
To avoid causing a pet anxiety, Kanine Krewe goes to a customer's home to provide continuity in the pet's routine. "We feel that that's the least stressful way of pet sitting," Ruddy says. "So we come to your home, we do what you would do with your pet, and keep them in the same routine. And that helps you for when you get back."
The company offers in-home pet sitting, overnight sitting and "drop-ins," in which a staff member will come to a customer's house for a short time and feed, play with and walk the dog, water plants and provide basic home maintenance while a client is on vacation. Kanine Krewe also cares for cats.
Ruddy says her company focuses on keeping care affordable, while providing thorough and loving care.
"I can keep my prices reasonable enough that I can help the community, I can help rescues, and still make a little for myself," she says.
Much of Ruddy's extra time also is devoted to animals. She has adopted two dogs — a boxer named Thomas "Soy Sauce" Sawyer and a mixed breed, Ms. Dottie Ruffles — and also works with the Louisiana SPCA, the Animal Rescue of New Orleans and Mutt Mamas, another New Orleans-based dog rescue.