Meet Christy!

Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'

Christy Caplan has been a fixture on the Portland dog scene for ten years.  And those years have been a blessing — the dark-haired, dark-eyed cutie is smart, engaging, and high-energy, and her imprint has touched pet parents through columns, articles, blogs, and now, the Super Rare Pack newsletter.  She is an accomplished journalist, PR/marketing pro, a certified vet tech, and now, an up and coming handler in competitive canine nosework and field trials.

Interestingly, while “We had dogs growing up,” Christy says, “I was like, ‘meh.’  I wasn’t the kid saying, ‘I want to be a vet.’  My parents are astounded that as an adult my first and foremost passion is dogs.”

It all started 10 years ago, she says, when she and her husband Mike lived in the Bay Area.  “My brother-in-law Josh was in LA, and there was a Jack Russell mix living under a car in the parking lot at his work.  The dog was emaciated, and after feeding and talking to the cowering dog over the course of a week, Josh took him home.  “He called and said, ‘Hey, what do you think; want a Jack Russell . . . ?’”

Not feral but in very poor shape, they named him Jack, and with good food, love and care, he bounced back.

Ready for a second dog six months after moving to Portland in 2004, Christy discovered Animal Aid.  There she adopted Sandy, a Basset mix.  “It was walking and hiking with Jack and Sandy that I got to know Portland.”

“I did PR and marketing, and I got to know Animal Aid and got involved, and we were off to the races,” she says laughing.

“Over time the pack changes,” Christy says.  “After Jack passed [he was with them just three years], we adopted Bruiser from Indigo Rescue.”  In time Christy became a board member.  “Indigo Ranch {C}[CC1] is doing really well,” she says.  “It’s a beautiful 16-acre property in Vernonia with cage-free daycare and boarding, and once people get to know us, they stay with us.”

While Sandy and Bruiser comprised the pack, Christy was led to medicine.  “My entrée was a direct result of Sandy being diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, Thrombocytopenia.  My medical knowledge base grew through Sandy’s illness.”

Pursuing certification as a vet tech had been on Christy’s bucket list, but more to obtain the knowledge and credentials than to work as a vet tech.  She entered the “outstanding, tough program” at PCC, and after graduating in 2012, did actually work as a vet tech, at Frontier Veterinary Hospital.  Despite being far from her SW Portland home, Frontier had long been Christy’s veterinary practice of choice.  She worked there full-time for nine months, and while her connection with Frontier doctors and staff remains close, her original sense that she wasn’t destined to be a vet tech proved true.  But, she adds, “There were aspects I loved.”

“I’m glad I tried it full-time,” she says.  “Potentially I’d love to do animal massage . . . I’ve talked to Rubi at Heal about it.  It might be an option later.”  For now, Christy is happy to have the added credibility of her vet tech license.

“That was that,” she segways.  “I had done PR and marketing for Ruffwear Dog Gear for many years, and I wanted to hone in on dogs.”

Then, “Sherman came along, a Beagle/Basset mix from OHS.  I got to know them, volunteered with them — they’re great.” 

“Sherman’s awesome.  With every adoption there’s been learning.  With Sherman, it was extreme reactivity on leash with other dogs.  Behavior’s something I know a lot about.  I spent a lot of years working with him.  We took Reactive Rover classes, I worked with Denise [Mullenix of Behave], with Joyce [Biethan of Joyce’s Dogs].  He was so reactive I wanted to find something he could do. 

Eventually she did.  “Nosework is something a reactive dog can do.”

Christy dove in, volunteered at trials, and found that indeed, Sherman loved nosework.

Then came “the third dog — a Standard Dachshund, Walter.”  While Christy is wholly devoted to animal rescue, she also feels there’s a place for responsible breeding.  This point of view developed organically, she says, as clearly, her life has.

“I was interested in Earth Dog activities, and in seeing how Bruiser would respond.  I tried him in the tunnel, and . . . not so much.”  But while there, Christy met Claire Mancha.  “I got to know and built a relationship with Claire over time, volunteering at field trials and joining the Dachshund Fanciers of Southwestern Washington:  a Performance Dachshund Club.  At some point she said ‘FYI, I happen to breed Standard Smooth[CC3]  Dachshunds – trackers, hunters.’”

Having a “total affinity for hounds,” it was on Christy’s bucket list to have one with whom she could pursue high levels of field trial and nosework competition.  “Bruiser was 10, and a bit of a curmudgeon.  Bringing in a puppy was the only option for adding to the pack at that point, and the opportunity to have one who could compete just evolved.”

Her career continued to evolve as well.  Having returned to freelance writing, marketing and PR after her stint as a vet tech, Christy was talking to a friend about The Pack, a breed-based social platform covering everything from mutts and mixes to every breed.  Christy told him, “I have a super rare breed, a Beagle/Basset mix.”  The friend encouraged her to apply.  The Pack has newsletters in every category or breed, which are numerous — “every breed has a pack leader, and every pack leader curates a newsletter,” Christy explains.  The company recently published its MILLIONTH newsletter.

Christy got the gig, and recently The Super Rare Pack newsletter was re-launched.  Described as a “daily candy for dog lovers,” The Super Rare Pack shares tips and tidbits, product reviews, and bite-sized dog news readers love.

Today, Christy says, “I’m in a really good spot.  I just turned 40.  I’m a journalism grad, I’ve always done PR and marketing, I have my CVT degree and experience living with dogs.  And now I have a pack that’s happy and healthy — this is the sweet time.  It can always change on a dime.  Right now, I’m lucky — they’re all healthy . . . I want to put it on pause and live in it for awhile . . . just soak it all in.”

About our Sponsor

Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years.  In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare.  Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood. 

Kristan Dael is a freelance writer and the alter ego of Jennifer Mccammon. She lives in Portland with her 3-pack, and strives to produce articles that inform, edify, engage and entertain.