We’re baaaack and we’re pumped to share our second interview with you. We were so fortunate to be able to catch up with our next guest.
She’s a rockstar, a bad ass, and a total inspiration. We’d like to introduce you to the one and only Chris Pritchett, owner/operator of Foster’s Home for Dogs. Chris’ claim to fame is single-handedly setting a new, more compassionate standard for dog care in the Fredericton area – oh, and her old signature leather jacket. We’ll talk more about the jacket later.
Hey there Chris! Tell us about Foster’s Home for Dogs.
Hi. So, I’ve owned and operated Foster’s Home for Dogs for 14 years but have been working with dogs professionally for almost 20. My late pug, Foster is the namesake of my business. The day we adopted him, I cracked open a Foster’s beer and he came running. He didn’t know, “sit down” or “please don’t shit on the floor” but he heard the sound of that can and came running.
Haha. What a great story. Foster would be so proud!
Tell everyone what sets you apart.
I was the very first dog boarding space in the province to bring about the idea of rooms instead of cages for dogs. When you’ve got a bunch of dogs and everyone is in cages, it can be really overstimulating and
ultimately a really stressful environment. So if I can reduce the sights and sounds for them, I reduce the stressors – then they get a chance to relax and they learn to trust me and our routine. Since I opened, I’m proud to say that I’ve inspired a paradigm shift here in the Maritimes with several other locations following my lead.
Right on, Chris. Can you help us understand why this paradigm shift is so important?
Yeah, and it’s literally the heart of what I do. It’s about bringing more compassion and empathy into how we exist with dogs – into how we navigate the world together. Dogs have evolved alongside humans for 50,000 years and so our brains are very similar in the way they’re triggered by things. So, you know, you had a bad day and it’s one thing after another after another and then you stub your toe and the profanity starts flying. You’re trigger stacked, right?! Dogs get trigger stacked too and so, if we really want to be able to call ourselves “dog’s best friend,” minimizing stress and being more compassionate about their experiences just makes sense.
It really does. You’re such an awesome doggy advocate. Thanks. I’m so inspired by the work of Kim Brophey and actually, I got this new certification through a course she created called LEGS Applied Ethology. So, now I am a certified Family Dog Mediator (FDM). Family dog mediation is about abandoning this outdated view of dogs where we treat behaviour as something to be corrected instead of something to be understood, it’s about understanding that behaviour is often a result of an unmet need, and it’s about bringing the humans and the dog(s) together to find a path forward where everyone’s needs are being met. I’m pretty proud to be the first FDM in the Maritimes and hopefully this movement will continue to grow. As you should be. When it comes to Foster’s, what does success mean to you? Success is when the dogs go home and they’re normal – they’re themselves. They’re not exhausted and sleeping for days. After sending their dogs to some other kennels, I’ve heard people say “oh my dog must’ve had a great time, he’s exhausted and slept for 3 days,” but honestly when was the last time you slept for 3 days? It wasn’t because you had a great time. It was because your body and mind were under a whole lot of stress.
These pups are so lucky to have you fighting for them, Chris! And we’re so lucky to be celebrating LGBTQ+ business owners like you this month… and every month really! Can you tell us a bit about what Pride means to you?
Well, it means a lot. I’m 44 and when I first moved to Fredericton in 1996, the door of the gay bar didn’t even have a handle. It was in an alleyway and there was just a little rainbow sticker on the door. You had
to knock and then the bouncer would open the door and basically screen you, like, were you recognized or not. We had to be very protective to keep Kurt’s a safe place because the world wasn’t safe for us in so many ways. For many of us, even our homes weren’t safe. My family kicked me out at 18 and cut me off, so I’ve been on my own for a long time. And so, it was really important to have safe spaces and to protect them because many of us didn’t have many places where it was safe to be ourselves.
What has it been like to watch the evolution from where things were to where things are now?
I’ve seen the tides turn in so many ways. Watching the younger generation grow up in a world where there’s so much more support and there are so many more opportunities is amazing but also kinda surreal. Like, even walking down the street with my girlfriend and she reaches for my hand and I still have that instinctive reaction to like, kinda panic and pull away. So like, yeah. Quite the evolution in my lifetime.
Thank you for sharing, Chris. If you could speak to the LGBTQ+ youths of today, what would you say?
A couple of things. First, is that we need to remember where we came from. Remember Stonewall, the rich history of Pride, and remember that we didn’t get all of this for free. Also, I like to say that the rainbow flag is not a white flag. Don’t settle. Keep fighting. Keep demanding equity. Stay loud and proud because that’s what works, you know Complacency never works.
Rock on, Chris. Anything you were known for back in the day? Oh, yeah that was totally my leather jacket! I was quite famous for it really. There were far too many nights where you could find me at Boom! singing karaoke and wearing that leather biker jacket.
Karaoke song of choice? Hands down, Valerie by Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson. Always Valerie. People literally requested me, the leather jacket, and Valerie – it’s a thing of legendary status really. Stef can attest to that.
A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! Okay, let’s wrap this up Oscar style. Who you thanking? I’m thanking Julie. She’s my best friend and my rock. And then, I’d like to thank myself. I’d like to thank myself for all of my hard work. I’d like to thank myself for fighting and never giving up. I owe all of this, all of my accomplishments, to myself. Wait… Have you heard Snoop Dogg’s Hollywood star speech where he thanks himself? It’s epic and so are you. No. But that makes sense. LOL
Check out Foster’s Home for Dogs at: