Cliff Lemke, Ace Pet Care LLC in Austin, Texas
I come from a military family. My father was a Seaman First Class in the U.S. Navy and served in World War II. I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War and retired in 1992 after Desert Storm. I retired with the rank of Technical Sergeant. My younger sister also enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. As a child stray dogs were always following me home and I loved nothing better than to train them to do tricks to impress my friends. So, I was delighted when I was assigned to the European Theater working in law enforcement and handling military working dogs. I’ve worked with the military working dogs in England, and in Italy handling MWD patrol/narcotic detector dogs. I worked in Germany as a trainer and kennel master. As a kennel master I oversaw the well-being, safety and training of all working dogs assigned to that station. After I retired from the Air Force I spent a few years training police service dogs and personal protection dogs. I’ve trained Belgian malinois, German shepherds, Bouvier des Flandres, Labradors, and Rottweilers as military working dogs and police service dogs. I think there was divine intervention in my coming into pet sitting! My wife had passed away. All during her illness my wife kept making me promise that I would get married again and although I made the promise, it was half-hearted. One day, quite accidentally, I crossed paths with Anne and I knew I wanted to meet her. Over time, as we got to know each other, Anne would talk about her pet-sitting business: the cute things that happened and any problems she might be having with a pet. I enjoyed giving her advice and it wasn’t long before I found myself wanting to be a pet sitter too. I realized that I had been missing working with furry friends. I started helping Anne at nights and on weekends. Eventually Anne and I married and I became a full-time partner in Ace Pet Care. We both really enjoy working together and caring for our clients’ fur kids. As a kennel master I had to learn a lot about the care and welfare of dogs, much of which is similar to the care and welfare of all types of pets. As a trainer of the military working dogs, police service dogs and private protection dogs, I had to learn various training techniques – I had to be able to assess temperament; I had to learn to work with and motivate different breeds. I needed to be proficient at giving my charges a sense of trust, security and well-being. I also needed to recognize hazardous situations, and to pick up on any health issues that I might be seeing. I had to learn to work through pet-behavior issues. All of this experience is put to great use as a pet sitter. We are appreciative of our brave service members who protect our country and do offer military discounts. We don’t use my military service as a means to promote Ace Pet Care. I am very proud of my service and I am delighted to talk about it with anyone who asks, but it is not a means for finding pet-sitting clients.