Karen and I got talking not long ago in the Plaza parking lot as there had been a couple of incidents with lost dogs and dogs that were hanging around a neighbourhood for weeks, far from home.  I asked Karen if she could perhaps write a little article explaining what she offers via the Pet Helpline.


The Pet Helpline is in place to assist the average pet owner with any “bump in the road” problem that may happen with their pet. It is a spin off of the old Gold River Pawsitive Services which offered 18 different services. The Pet Helpline offers shelter for strays, reuniting of a lost dogs and its’ family, obedience training, problem solving, information, G.E. Grooming and boarding.

My name is Karen Bowker. I bring to Gold River my experience as a competitive dog trainer, breeding kennel master, obedience instructor, pet groomer, emergency vet assistant and a lifetime pet lover. Before I had my first dog, Muggins the Pomeranian, I was drawing pictures of dogs and hatching wild bird eggs in the oven just so I could have an animal companion. Many years later I saw my first “trained” dog. A black Labrador retriever. I liked what I saw but with being a young mother in a logging camp, I didn’t have the time or the means to learn how to train a dog. A few more years later the opportunity came. I borrowed my daughter’s miniature Dachshund and off to obedience school I went. After a couple of sessions of 8 week classes I was bitten by the “training bug”. It wasn’t long before I was travelling up and down the island competing in AIOC (Association of Island Obedience Clubs)  trials.

Variety is the spice of life so obedience training wasn’t the only canine training that I did. I dabbled in agility, drafting, Canine Good Neighbour testing, musical freestyle, pet therapy and trick training. I also became very active with the SPCA in Nanaimo. I volunteered with Pet Therapy and Humane Education, eventually coordinating the Humane Education program for which I received a SPCA 2000 Volunteer of the Year award for both Nanaimo and BC.

Gold River Pawsitive Service and Pet Helpline have sheltered, and re-homed many cats and dogs. One dog whelped 11 puppies when she was with us. Every pup was placed in a loving home after it was de-wormed, vaccinated and altered. The mother dog was re-homed later. I guess she was our longest staying guest~~~2 months.

My vision is to educate the young, inform the unknowing and help create a trusting, loving relationship between man and his companion.

Note:  When I asked Karen where the money comes from to offer this service, she responded with, “I charge for boarding, grooming and training.  The cakes help out too.”   So it is essentially coming directly from her pocket. If a stray comes to her needing medical attention, she spends her own money to have the dog tended to. Please don’t forget the Pet Helpline when donating – a bake sale is in the planning stages, and I’m guessing there will be some delicious slow cooker cakes there!!


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