Turned to the dog side: Moorhead teacher volunteers to be Alpha Momma for dogs up for adoption
MOORHEAD - Sometimes having a bad day can lead to some of the best days in your life. Just ask Kristi Rowekamp. Five years ago, the Moorhead School District reading teacher, teacher trainer and librarian had just had her garage broken into, her c...
MOORHEAD – Sometimes having a bad day can lead to some of the best days in your life.
Just ask Kristi Rowekamp.
Five years ago, the Moorhead School District reading teacher, teacher trainer and librarian had just had her garage broken into, her car ransacked and a $1,000 bike ripped off.
Rowekamp decided to try to cheer up by going to Fargo's Petsmart to look at the dogs offered for adoption by Fargo-based 4 Luv of Dog Rescue.
There, she met Enzo, and her life took a turn for the better.
The five-year-old Heinz 57 mix was the quietest, calmest dog in the joint, and she knew she had found her forever pooch.
"I never thought I'd get a dog, and I got him. He's been awesome," Rowekamp said of the tan Italian Greyhound, Chihuahua, Basenji and rat terrier mix.
Six months later, she was fostering dogs for 4 Luv of Dog.
"Through adopting I got to know a couple of people in the rescue. I saw how they were helping. And I learned more about the need in the community," Rowekamp said. "He (Enzo) turned me on to dog rescue and he turned me on to dog training."
The 37-year-old's day job is a three-part posting at the Probstfield Center for Education.
She's a part-time library media specialist, a part-time literacy coach for teachers and she teaches reading to some of the 300 kindergarteners at Probstfield.
Teaching kindergartners is good practice for teaching anyone, human or canine, she said.
"I started teaching humans before I started teaching dogs. I teach young humans, and both require a lot of patience," Rowekamp said with a laugh.
Rowekamp is not Fargo-Moorhead's crazy dog lady, but there are days she can make a run at the title.
Recently, her car carried Enzo; Penny, an Australian cattle dog who became her second furkid; a friend's dog; and a dog she was fostering for 4 Luv of Dog.
In mid-summer, Rowekamp can be the Alpha Momma for a pack that grows to seven or eight dogs, she said.
"When there's a need, it's hard to say no," she said.
On a recent sunny afternoon, she was preparing to hold training classes for dog owners and their fur buddies. But she also took time for a stop at the 4 Luv of Dog kennel in south Moorhead, checking on the dogs that were temporarily without a foster home.
She gave them some kibble, a rub on their snouts, and took Hippo, a shy tan and white pit bull mix recovering from surgery, out for a short walk.
Rowekamp said she's become a pit bull fan thanks to 4 Luv of Dog.
"They've become one of my favorite breeds They can match their handlers' energy so well. They really want to interact and please people," Rowekamp said.
If there's anything strange about Rowekamp's turn to the dog side, it's that she didn't grow up in a family that included canines. Her parents didn't like them much, she said.
"I just kind of went goofy and jumped in with both feet," she said .
Now she's a Jack-of-all-trades for 4 Luv of Dog, picking up dogs at the pound, training dogs and new volunteers, fostering dogs, and helping with adoption days.
"I just think that any type of volunteering puts you outside of yourself and your own issues and day-to-day struggle," Rowekamp said. "It can be very healing and a very powerful experience to do something to make the world a better place.
"What I think is so rewarding about dogs is that you really can change (their worlds)," she said. "They can be some of the most forgiving and loving animals on the planet."
Dogs flourish in a loving home, she said.
"The people change, and the dogs change."