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We sometimes get asked, “What does S’wooft mean?” Our company name has multiple origins, but the Urban Dictionary describes swooft as “well; healthy; energetic; alert; comfortable; happy.” We think this is a great way to describe each of the people that make up #teamswooft, and we’re launching our Staff Spotlight to share more about what it takes to be S’wooft.

For our first Staff Spotlight, we’re featuring Kristine, who has been with Team S’wooft since May 2017.  Kristine is not your ordinary #dogwalker. Yes, she adores her pooches and showers them with TLC during their daily strolls, but Kristine has taken her passion to another level with her decision to actively pursue a career in animal care. 

Kristine’s love of animals began at birth. She grew up in a dog loving family and has always been surrounded by pups. As a child, the only books that struck her interest pertained to animals. Kristine always knew that she wanted to work with animals, which led her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science. 

Upon graduation, Kristine obtained an internship in May 2016 as a Marine Mammal Intern with the Marine Mammals Department at the John G. Shedd Aquarium. There, she was responsible for a variety of tasks, including:

  • preparation of meals for the belugas, Pacific white‐sided dolphins, California sea lions, Alaskan sea otters, and Southern sea otters; 

  • setup for three to six daily shows at the aquarium; 

  • placement of food buckets and vet boxes in designated areas; 

  • aiding with gating animals from habitat to habitat during shows and sessions;

  • assisting with 2nd person husbandry and guest behaviors with animals. 

She also had her daily chores which included cleaning the otter reserve area, medical area floor and footbaths, helping with the penguin exhibit rinse, and cleaning the penguin encounter carts. Kristine was also fortunate to be a part of the observation of a growing dolphin calf where she recorded his behavior with his mother, the other animals, and his general health. Upon the completion of her internship, she continued to volunteer with the Shedd until December 2018. 

Following her time at the Shedd and first full year with S’wooft, Kristine began actively looking for an externship with a clinic to continue in her pursuit of a career with animals. In January of 2019, she successfully landed an externship through Penn Foster as a Veterinary Technician at Companion Animal Hospital of Norridge

There, Kristine spends her days learning about the medical aspect of animal care, which naturally builds on her training as a S’wooft Dog Walker! Her training includes taking in patients, drawing blood and performing TPR (temperature, pulse, and respiration) checks. With each of these skills, her goal is always to cause as little discomfort to the animal as possible. Kristine finds that her biggest challenge is completing all the skill sheets. She is expected to complete 29 skill sheets in 10 weeks that must be then submitted to her school. Kristine expects to complete her externship in May of this year. Good luck, Kristine! We’re rooting for you! 

S’wooft is fortunate to call Kristine one of our own. We asked her a few additional questions about her early time as a #petlover and how she became a member of our team.

How old were you when you got your first pet? What impact did this pet have on your life? 

K: My parents owned a dog before my older sister was born. Sheeba was a black Flat-Coated Retriever and when I came along in 1993, she was 4 years old. My very first tactile memory is of her fur and how soft it was. Other than that, I don't have enough memories of her as she passed away when I was just under 4 years old. She was 8.

Our second dog, a black Miniature Poodle named Monet, was my constant companion for almost 13 years. He made an enormous impact on my life: when I wasn't feeling great, he would curl up next to me and snuggle; he enjoyed playing with his toys and being a lovable menace to his brothers and mother. When he was diagnosed with malignant oral melanoma, I spoiled him as rotten as possible. Our third dog, a red Goldendoodle named Brandy, is my best friend, and, I’m not going to lie, my fur baby. She loves getting pets and if you don't pet her right away, she will paw at you until you do. She's spoiled rotten, which all dogs should be.

Please share with us a favorite memory of a pet.

K: The story I will share is with my poodle, Monet. My grandma owned his mother, Olive, and she bred Olive. Olive gave birth to three pups at midnight on December 8, 1997: Claude Monet, Pierre Renoir, and Toulouse Lautrec. My grandma, being an established artist, named the boys after three French artists. My sister and I went over to my grandma's frequently to help/play with the puppies as they grew older. Because of this, I had known Monet for his entire life. I know that knowing a dog for their entire life is very rare, and I treasure my memories of Monet.

What’s a fun fact we may not know about you?

K: I write in my free time and prefer writing fantasy-based fiction or realistic fiction. When I was in high school, I entered the National Novel Writing Month competition where I had to write a novel consisting of 50000 words within a one-month period. Well, I completed this challenge and won the prize of getting my novel, “Celtic Queen", published. I was able to get five published copies of my novel, one of which I possess, and the others I gave to family and friends. “Celtic Queen” is about a girl who moves to Chicago from Ireland and joins a gang. During my youth, I was fascinated by gangs, so I decided to write a fictional piece about them. Taking inspiration from my novel and from my own Irish heritage, I also have a tattoo on my back that is a symbol of the book in Gaelic. As far as what’s next in the world of writing, I have been working on another novel for the last 10 years. I haven’t done much with it lately since I tend to get writer’s block in the winter, but I continue to edit the content that is already written and add more ideas for upcoming content. 

Why did you choose to work for S’wooft? What is one tip that you would give on finding a good dog walker or on dog walking? 

K: I like being paired up with the same dogs every day. This allows me to create a special bond with them. When it comes to dog walking, the tip that I give out is to always greet the dogs like they’re your best friend (assuming they know you and are comfortable with you). I’m chirpy when I greet my dogs and love to give them side rubs before we leave for our walk or before backyard playtime. I always feel happy if those butts are wagging when they see me!

Another fun fact: S’wooft was originally introduced to Kristine through a common friend between her parents and Sarah’s (S’wooft owner) volunteer work with the Beat Tom & Bill Foundation.

Just as her canine walking companions are happy to see Kristine, S’wooft is also delighted and fortunate to have her on the team. Besides being a gifted writer and a champion #vettech, she shines in her compassion and dedication to the pet community. Kristine believes that all animals should be treated with love and provided with constant encouragement. Exceptional care and team commitment produce not only the best service for the families we serve but increased overall happiness for their pets.

For more on Kristine and the rest of Team S’wooft, check out Our Team!

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