Our Team

Our team is dedicated to the well being of our clients through the use of canine assisted therapy. We are made up of Registered Clinical Therapist, Jennifer Keough and Certified Dog Trainer, Kari Holmberg. 

It all started because these two German shepherds stole a couple of ladies hearts. Years later, those two ladies met over a mutual desire to serve through canines. Bosco (sable) and Duff (black) left a legacy we couldn’t ignore. So was born, Buff Co. A company commited to providing Animal Assisted Therapy to Albertans. We’re so excited to bring this to people and carry on the memory of two extraordinary dogs.

Duff and Bosco

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Duff was the Black German Shepherd that stole my heart and started it all. He came into my life when I was just 19 years old and in a way that old soul was more of the adult and I was the puppy navigating through life. From encouraging my career, to picking my husband, he always knew the best direction to take.

Duff was the most patient, intuitive, intelligent, and trusting dog I have even met. He would never hesitate to give his opinion and over time I learned to listen to that opinion. All it took was one look from him and I knew where we needed to be. He taught me how to trust, how to love, and how to slow things down and enjoy the things in life that actually mattered. He showed me how to be kind and be humble and never take what I had or we had for granted.

Duff loved to please people and left a memory on the hearts of everyone who met him. He was a therapist long before it ever became my path. He was able to show this young, naive social worker the power of the animal/human bond while I watched people connect with him on a deeper level and in a more meaningful way than I ever could. It’s that effortless way that was just Duff. He led us down the path I am walking today. It took me almost 20 years to get here, 3 years too late, but I know you’re watching down with those big brown eyes of approval knowing that your work with me is finally done.

The eternal teacher, leader, protector. Duff.

I’m grateful for 12 frustratingly beautiful years with Bosco. He’s the sort or dog that makes or breaks you as a trainer. Maybe even as a human. He’s built me, my career...who I am. He’s that One Dog. The heart dog. While many more will come and go, there will never, ever be another Bosco. I’m grateful for the lessons he’s taught me and all the things a million books, research or seminars never could. I’m grateful for the experience of a difficult dog, made into a great dog. The kind that creates this kind of recognition - of the immensity of what you’re about to lose. Knowing, without a single doubt, that you’ve spent a great amount of time with the thing legends are made of. A legacy...he’s left a huge one.

Bosco has given me the opportunity to not only become an exceptional dog trainer, he’s also helped me meet some pretty incredible people. Though many have come and gone over the years, I’ve a deep gratitude for all of them. They’ve all played a pivotal role in the person I am today and who I will continue to strive to become. As challenging as young Bosco’s behaviors were, many people stepped up to help in countless ways. The people who allowed me to introduce him to their dogs, slowly. Those who watched him when a conventional kennel couldn’t. And the ones who shared their homes and lives with us. Never wavering in their belief that we would make something great of ourselves. And boy did we.

I’m grateful that through Bosco, I learned how to become flexible. To train with an open mind and an open heart. To train the dog in front of me. To never think for even a moment that you know how the training session is going to go! To keep horses in line, and let cats get away with playing with your tail. To be firm, but fair. To be tough, yet kind. And to never let ANYONE push you around. To stand your ground, always remaining beyond loyal to your tribe. Allowing others into your circle, even when it’s hard. Pushing through the stuff that made you so...rigid, and being willing to learn a new way. Never giving up. And loving your besties-fiercely.

Thank you Boss Dog-for the moments that became days, the days that became years, the years that became a lifetime. And a lifetime that is full of my most precious memories. Thank you for being That One Dog. The One that made me.

I don’t know what life is going to look like without you, but thankfully, I have a great tribe behind me that will ease that transition. I’ll learn new things in your absence, like how to adjust to life without you. Because all the things you have taught me, have prepared me for the rest of my life. You’ve set me up, given me the skills, the tools, the knowledge...to keep calm, and train on. 

Jennifer and Kari

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With 20 years in the helping profession, I have spent my career working with people looking to experience a positive change in their lives. I have been employed in many diverse settings including hospitals, schools, and treatment centers, as well as private and nonprofit settings in both Canada and the United States. Obtaining a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology has further provided me with the opportunity to support people of all ages and backgrounds identify and reach their ideal. I believe individuals can reach their goals of overcoming life’s stressors and obstacles by gaining skills of healthy coping through a supportive, caring, collaborative, and responsive therapeutic relationship. I am an advocate for self-care and mindfulness which is often left behind in the hustle and bustle of life. Connecting with animals is a large part of my own self-care.

Although I am experienced in many theories and interventions, I tend to work from a person centered approach. This approach paired with Animal Assisted Therapy can provide a sense of calm, comfort, or safety and divert attention away from a stressful situation and toward one that provides pleasure. Developing a bond with an animal can help people develop a better sense of self-worth and trust, stabilize their emotions, and improve their communication, self-regulation, and socialization skills.

Therapists and potential clients may wonder, however, what makes Animal Assisted Therapy more beneficial than traditional talk therapy. Studies have shown a significant drop in stress hormones and an increase in health inducing and social inducing hormones after 20 minutes with a therapy dog. I invite you to come and experience the benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy. 

I have been professionally training dogs for 11 years now but have had a life long passion form them. My first word was "puppy" and the dedication to canines only grew from there. I have long known and personally understood the therapeutic benefits of animals. I have taken much time in my life to bond with not only dogs, but also my horses. I knew at a very young age that my life would quite literally go to the dogs. I've always considered myself very lucky to know my path in life, without doubts or regrets. Though I started my career as a dog trainer and boarding facility, I have experience with: pet first aid, canine nutrition, scent detection, personal protection, tracking, canine behaviors, gun (hunting) dog and service dogs. The last one there is something very important to my career, but also to my life. In 2006 I was diagnosed with chronic anxiety. For 10 years I sought a resolution to my struggle with anxiety. In 2015 I got one. I was prescribed a service dog by my family doctor and from there my life changed drastically. It took 3 dogs and 3 years, but in June 2018, I successfully passed the owner trained pubic access test with my now service dog, Vandal. 

I've long been an advocate for therapy through animals. I have volunteered in the past with both my Labrador retrievers for therapy dog events. I have personally benefited as well as witnessed the power of animals in therapeutic settings. When I met Jen and her pack of therapy canines, I knew that it was a match made by the Universe. We were meant to make a collective dream happen. I am so excited to share this dream with all of you and invite you along on our journey in advancing mental health options for both group and individual therapy through animals.