Interview with Chelsea Edson and Katie Falcone of RAD Girls Club

I am so excited to introduce you to the amazing women behind RAD Girls Club, Katie Falcone and Chelsea Edson. Together they started this incredible rescue in the winter of 2015. They focus most of their attention on “discriminated breeds, dogs who need special accommodations, and senior dogs.” One of our very own campers, Mookie, was a RAD Girl rescue!

Without further adieu heres Katie Falcone (KF) and Chelsea Edson (CE)

Introduce yourself: Who are you? Where are you from? How did you end up in VT?

KF: My Name is Katie Falcone. I grew up right outside Philadelphia, PA in a town called Devon. I attended college at the University of Colorado at Boulder and ended up in Boston after school. I spent about three years in Boston, spending every spare minute I had traveling to Vermont to visit friends. Seeking mountains, and endless farmland for my rescue dog Nala to run around, I finally made a permanent move to Vermont in the Summer of 2014.

CE: My name is Chelsea Edson and I was born and raised in the mountains of southern Vermont, and landed here in Burlington after bopping around the east coast and swearing I’d never end up in back in VT….and at this current juncture I’m pretty damn happy here.

How did you find your way into the dog world?

KF: The first time I encountered a dog was at two years old. My family and I had just moved from Havertown, PA to Devon PA and my mom and I went across the street to introduce ourselves to our new neighbors. A huge bear ran up to us and starting licking my face. The bear ended up being a Newfoundland named Sally and the neighbor turned out to be my best friend to this day, Hillary, whose father, St. George was a vet. I grew up going to St. George’s office and my family always had dogs ( labs mostly). But it wasn’t until I rescued Nala from the Boulder Humane Society in 2008 that my journey in the dog world began. She changed my life….I don’t know who I would be without her.

CE: I’ve grown up with dogs and spent most of my older years taking any dog sitting job I could get.  I more often than not had someone else’s dog in my house and when I was finally ready to have my own dog it just sweetened the pot.  I love having a full, chaotic, drooly house of dogs to get me through my days.

When did you start Rad Girls Club?

KF: Chelsea and I met in the summer of 2015 while we were both dog sitting for a mutual friend. We soon realized that we lived on the same street and when Chelsea rescued Blue, we started hanging out more and just clicked with each other. There were a lot of uncanny resemblances in our past relationships and we shared a lot of same goals and interests when it came to our passion for dogs and our commitment to the community we love.

CE: Katie and I started RAD Girls in the winter after the summer we first met. We were sitting in the lake watching our dogs run around one day and the idea was born and it was a “should we just do this?” moment.

What prompted you to start Rad Girls Club?

KF: We both needed an outlet for our creativity and we both had a desire to give back to the rescue community. As a result, we decided to start by volunteering at a local animal shelter. It became that apparent that there was a serious need to help promote the dogs that were available for adoption. The people who run the shelters have so much on their plate that leaves little time, if any, to manage and run a social media page.

CE: We love our dogs and relied on them to pull us through some rough times.  We both found ourselves as “single dog moms” after some particularly harsh years and realized that if we didn’t have our dogs, our futures could have headed in a very different direction.  We started volunteering at some of the local shelters and realized what a huge need they had for not only physical help, but for promotional help.  There were dogs that had been in the shelter for years and that really saddened us to know that they hadn’t been advocated for.  We decided to use our backgrounds to try a new approach and involuntarily started a kind of dog PR.  It’s just continued to evolve from our original idea and we love where it’s taking us.

Where does the name Rad Girls Club come from?

KF: RAD stands for Redemption for Adoptable Dogs and although our group is not exclusive to women, we wanted to create a safe and excepting space for girls who wanted to volunteer with us.

CE: We have a pretty awesome girl gang here, which is something we really want everyone to have.  There’s a lot of girls out there who feel compelled to outdo one another and we are trying to squash that underlying competitive nature girls feel to be better than others. We wanted to bring different girls together to help with a cause that needed some muscle, and in turn build relationships with people who are trying to build one another up, not tear them down.  RAD was the acronym we came up with that we based our premise for this project on: Redemption for Adoptable Dogs.

What exactly do you do at Rad Girls Club? How is it different from other rescues? 

KF: We aren’t a physical shelter. We are a third party non-profit group which brings awareness to overlooked shelter dogs, particularly: discriminated breeds, dogs who need special accommodations, and senior dogs. We’ve created a platform on social media where we promote adoptable dogs that we take out on day trips, share successful rescue stories, and bring awareness to small local business. The difference with our organization is that we partner and collaborate with multiple foster networks and shelters.

CE: We’re different in that we aren’t a physical shelter, but we coexist with other rescue groups and foster programs to help raise awareness for dogs who need a special “leg up”.  We ask who needs the most help, who has been in the shelter the longest, and take them out on day trips to meet people, or just to escape the shelter environment for a few hours.  We work with a lot of discriminated breeds and we’re trying to break the stereotypes associated with these dogs: typically pitbulls, Staffordshire terriers, bulldog mixes etc.  We also work with dogs who need hyper specific home environments or senior dogs who may need medical assistance.  The dogs we advocate for are often victims of unfortunate circumstance and we try to show people that these are good dogs that deserve a second chance.

Do you see the Burlington area as receptive to this sort of project?

KF: Absolutely- we wouldn’t be half as successful if we started this project anywhere else. Aside from support for our friends and family, We have received an our pouring of support from local small businesses around town.

CE: Burlington and the surrounding towns have been SO receptive to our initiative.  We’ve partnered with restaurants, bars, cider makers, general stores, small boutiques, rock bands, dog treat companies, and so many more to raise awareness for shelter animals, and we’ve gained national attention from big companies like Free People and Found My Animal, which was such an honor and a huge boost for our small business.  We love Vermont and know that the special people that live here are helping us tremendously in being as successful as we have been.

Looking ahead where do you see the Rad Girls Club going?

KF: My goal is to reach liked minded who w

ould want to carry out our mission all around the country. If we can we get two people like us to set up a chapter in every state, just think about how many dogs we could save!  Going back to finding an outlet for our creativity- Chelsea and I are in the process of creating a line of products to sell on our website. A portion of the products will go back into the rescue community.

CE: We just recently became a 501c3 non-profit which is opening so many doors as far as helping to fund the organizations we work with.  With this licensure, we’re able to accept donations that pay for heartworm treatments, surgeries, spay/neuter costs, transport feeds, and so much more for the organizations we work with.  We are building our brand to be something all inclusive, that anyone can be a part of.  We want to encourage as many people as possible to get involved in helping shelter animals find their way to families and with what started as a small idea, is turning into a lifestyle brand that we love and live every day.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

KF: The joy we are able to bring to each dog we take out.

CE: We both have full time regular jobs and doing RAD Girls on the side has been the perfect outlet for us.  We are able to go at least once a week and take a deserving shelter dog out into nature, let them breathe that mountain air, jump in a waterfall—-whatever it is we decide to get into that day.  There’s no better satisfaction than seeing what was once a broken dog really let loose and enjoy everything freedom has to offer.

What kind of dog(s) do you personally have? Age, breed, name.

KF: Nala is 9 year old mastiff/ boxer mix? (Best guess)

CE: I have a two year old Catahoula Leopard Dog/Great Pyrenees mix named Blue.  She is a rescue from Arkansas and came from an animal hoarder/neglect situation where she was pulled with her mom and siblings from a junkyard.  She’s not easy but she’s a ride or die kind of lady.

In 5 words describe your pup(s) personality.

KF: Sassy, grandma, queen, with human tendencies

CE: Spastic, loving, sensitive, loyal….unable to control her tail

What do you feed your pup(s)?

KF: Nala is not very picky, we have nicknamed her the director of waste management. She has a taste for fine garbage.  I mostly stick to a dry food that’s grain free- a chicken and rice recipe

CE: Blue gets the same food she’s always had, Natures Balance.  She also usually gets a little something special from my dinner every night and loves street pizza.  Sunday morning on Church street is like a street-meat graveyard and she takes advantage.

What is your favorite thing to do with your pup(s)?

KF: Take them camping and hiking on day trips

CE: Blue just recently got into swimming, and for a little Arkansas girl who used to hate the water, taking her to the beach is one of my new favorite hobbies.  She could chase a stick for hours and loves to swim after me out in the water.  She is always down for a good hike or a huge open feel to sprint around in.

What do you do in your free time when you aren’t rescuing, and being a dog mom?

KF: During the day I’m work full time in media sales and in my time, I like to hike, mountain bike, camp, and explore Vermont with my pup!

CE: My full time job is in textile design and I have always been someone who is very visually inspired.  I spend a lot of time reworking clothing or furniture, making jewelry, or working on styling projects for small companies that want some creative help.  I’m open to doing anything that can inspire me to get out and create something beautiful for other people to enjoy.  I think surrounding yourself with things that bring you joy is an important part of living a life fulfilled.

 Want to learn more about RAD Girls Club? Go check them out!!

Website           Facebook            Instagram: @radgirlsclubvt

Interview with Sara Arms of Green Mountain Canine Camp

I am so excited to announce the beginning of a new series here at the Exploration Dog Blog–Welcome to the Dog World Interview Series! In this series I will be interviewing people from all areas of the dog world–trainers, vets, dog walkers, rescues etc. Starting with local Vermont area folks and working our way out. All of the people chose for this series are people I want to learn more about and who inspire me and hopefully inspire you as well!

First up is Sara Arms of Green Mountain Canine Camp. Sara is a VT native and from time to time joins Exploration Dog Camp out on our walks! I hope you enjoy the interview, because Mason and I think Sara is pretty amazing!

When did you start GMCC and why? What exactly do you do?

I officially started GMCC in late 2015.  I was in my 4th year working in advertising for a local company and had been feeling really unhappy in my career for quite some time.  I was working long days, skipping lunches, feeling constantly stressed, and bringing that stress home with me at the end of every work day.  All the while, my dog was sitting at home like a giant bump on a log.  When he was younger, I would drive home on my lunch breaks and spend time with him.  It was hands down the best 30 minutes of my entire day.  I started thinking to myself how silly it was to put so much of my time, energy, and efforts in to a career that I 100% knew I didn’t want to continue pursuing.  I asked myself “if you could do anything and get paid for it, what would you want to do?”  I came up with the answer almost immediately, and began actually looking in to the possibility of being able to get paid to spend the day not only with my own dog, but other awesome dogs too!  Dog Camp is an awesome alternative to the more traditional doggie daycare that we’re all pretty familiar with.  What’s so amazing about camp is that dogs get to socialize, play, learn, grow, exercise, and have a BLAST in a structured and natural environment.  They’re not fenced in rolling around on fake grass or playing in some indoor gymnasium like them would be at daycare.  They’re not leashed or kenneled.  At camp, they’re swimming and running off leash in fields.  They’re in the forest surrounded by a small pack of dogs that they come to know really well over time and develop bonds and lasting relationships with.  They have a pack leader (me) who they know and trust and can count on to keep them safe and help them make good choices and have a great time.  It’s honestly the coolest thing you could ever give your dog, and that’s why I decided to take the plunge and quit my job to start Green Mountain Canine Camp.  I wanted to provide this amazing life for my dog, while giving myself the most amazing life at the same time.

What kind of dog do you have? Age, breed, name.

My dog Monty is a Shiba Inu.  His real name is Montego (after Montego Bay, Jamaica), but we’ve always called him by his nickname.  He’s 3 years old right now, and grows a little bit more sassy and silly every day.

In 5 words describe Monty’s personality.

Stubborn, Sassy, Nerdy, Goofy, and Happy.

What do you feed Monty?

Monty eats a strictly raw diet.  We rotate different proteins (ground turkey, beef, fish, chicken) to keep him from getting bored, and add other things in to ensure that he’s eating a well balanced meal.  Minced veggies (kale, broccoli, carrots, brussel sprouts), fruits (apples, strawberries, blueberries), ground bone, coconut oil, fish oil, and other treats here and there!  Since a very young age he’s suffered from some pretty serious skin allergies, and his raw diet is the one thing that has really helped his body battle his allergic reactions.

Does Monty have a “best” camp friend?

Monty has a BFF in each different pack that we go hiking with during the week.  There’s at least one dog that comes out each day that has managed to “crack the Monty code” and get him to be playful.  It brings me more joy than I can explain to see him smiling, playing chase, wrestling, and having a blast with his friends out at camp.

What is Monty’s best party trick?

Monty’s party trick that is favored by most people he meets is the “Pee-Yew” command.  If you pinch your nose and say “Monty, did you toot!?  Pee-Yew!” he will bring his paw up over his nose and cover it like something is stinky.

What does Monty’s perfect day look like?

Monty loves lots of different things, but 3 of his favorite things are being outside, seeing his favorite humans, and taking naps!  I think his perfect day consists of something outdoors, like a hike or heading down to the beach at our house to dig in the sand and fetch sticks in the shallow water.  If his favorite human friends stopped by to play with him while we were out there he would be in heaven.  After that, he would then want to come home and sprawl out in the sunshine on the deck and take a nice long nap.

What do you do when you aren’t at camp?

During the week days when Monty is at camp all morning, he spends his free time napping andresting up for the next day.  If he’s well rested though, we like to head out on adventures together.  Our adventures are anything from visiting his grandparents and his horse sister who lives with them, to heading downtown and having lunch with his human friends outside on Church Street.  If we’re just relaxing at home, Monty’s Chuckit is probably his all time favorite weekend activity.

Do you have a GMCC spirit dog? / What camp dog are you most like?

If I had to pick just one camp dog that I think my personality most reflects, I would probably say it’s Baloo.  He is silly and fun, likes to play and be social, but he can also be a little bit anxious at times.  He also seems to REALLY hate confrontation, which is very true for me as well!  If two other dogs are having a “disagreement”, Baloo is the first to run over and try and diffuse the situation.

What is your favorite thing about running camp? What is the hardest thing?

My favorite thing about running camp is that for the first time in my life I have a career/job that I actually enjoy!  When I take a vacation, I don’t dread coming back to work anymore.  I love what I’m doing.  How could I not!?  The hardest part is finding ways to be innovative and grow without losing all of the small business touches that make GMCC what it is.  I want my company to expand and become better with each passing year, but I don’t want to compromise the great relationships I have with my clients and the down to earth vibe that my camp has.

Any advice for anyone who is thinking of quitting their job and pursuing their dream job?

I usually feel like the last person who should be offering advice, but I think I would just say that if you can really picture yourself doing something different, you have to swallow your fears and take the plunge.  Looking back there are a zillion things I could have done to prepare myself better before quitting my stable career and opening up Green Mountain Canine Camp.  The way I looked at it though was that if I allowed myself to be held back by all of the “what ifs” I would never make the change.  In the end though, I took a giant leap of faith and have never looked back.

Want to find out more about Sara, Monty, and Green Mountain Canine Camp? Head over to http://greenmtncaninecamp.com/ or be sure to check them out on Facebook or Instagram @greenmtncaninecamp