County Face: Christine Robinson of Presque Isle
Christine Robinson of Presque Isle believes in being a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. In her case, she is referring to the many dogs and cats she cares for as the owner of Critter Hill Kennel, a dog obedience trainer and president of the Central Aroostook Humane Society Board of Directors.
Robinson surrounds herself with animals and teaches people about the companionship pets can bring into their lives.
So many people asked her to look after their pets that she decided to start her own business, and opened Critter Hill Kennel in 2007. Having earned her dog training certificate from Animal Behavioral College, she offers obedience training, as well as doggy daycare and cat boarding.
Robinson decided to locate Critter Hill Kennel at her home for many reasons. She wanted the kennel to be small so the dogs and cats could get to know and trust her. The animals have plenty of room to run around her yard and are able to interact at a safe home away from home.
“I like the trust that I get from the animals that I care for,” Robinson said. “It’s an amazing thing to connect with an animal because an animal can’t talk to you like a person would, so you find your connection in a different way.”
Robinson said she always uses her degree in elementary education even though she doesn’t teach in a classroom. She educates people on how to become responsible pet owners, whether through dog training, bite prevention or awareness about spaying and neutering. During obedience classes, she not only teaches dogs how to behave well around people, but teaches owners to recognize certain behaviors and help their dog become a pet that they can safely bring out in public and trust around family members.
“It’s great to see someone come into my obedience classes with a big out-of-control dog and after eight weeks send them home with a dog that they can safely take to the vet clinic or wherever they want to go,” Robinson said. “I’ve had a lot of people say, ‘You know, I was skeptical in the beginning, but I’m really happy that I took your class and I really learned a lot.’”
For nearly 20 years Robinson has served as president of the local Humane Society board. She mostly handles fundraising efforts and enjoys events such as the annual Paws for the Cause Walk, craft fairs and the Toast to the Animals. The Paws for the Cause Walk is her favorite fundraiser, because she often sees owners with dogs from her obedience classes and pets adopted from the shelter. She became involved with the humane society to make a difference in animals’ lives.
“I used to send money to any organization that had anything to do with animals all over the country,” Robinson said. “I decided that I wanted to see and know what my money was doing and give locally. I wanted to be involved with something that felt good.”
At the humane society, Robinson has seen animals who have experienced “the worst of the worst and the best of the best.” The best stories occur when dogs and cats find permanent, loving owners. She said sometimes animals don’t wind up there due to behavior issues, but because their owners have become unable to care for their pets due to personal or financial reasons.
“People tend to think of a shelter as an ending. I tend to think of it as a beginning. It’s a safe place where people can find a forever friend,” Robinson said.
Robinson has gained many “forever friends” in her own life. She has 10 cats, six dogs, a bunny, seven horses and chickens, and has adopted many of the dogs and cats from shelters or rescued them.
“People always say, ‘Your husband must love animals,’ and I’ll say ‘No, he loves me,’” Robinson said, laughing. “My whole family understands my passion for animals and I’m lucky that way. Growing up surrounded by animals is something I’m really proud to give my daughters.”