Katy’s Own Dog Whisperer: Jack Richards

From specialized police K-9s to household chihuahuas, every dog can learn . . . and so can their owners.

Visit Jack Richards any day of the week and you’ll find him working with dogs. Some he’s spotted and rescued from shelters with indicators they’d be good police dogs. As a police officer working dangerous night shifts, Richards developed an eye for working canines and started the K-9 program at Houston ISD in 1996. “My brother was on the force in Stafford and worked with an impressive police dog,” says Richards. “He encouraged me to purchase 13-month-old Egon at the cost of $3,500. People may not realize that officers often have to buy their own dogs. Egon turned out to be priceless, not only showing me that I have a gift, but demonstrating his own gifts in narcotics detection, man-tracking, and street patrol.” Richards credits Egon with convincing Houston ISD to embrace the K-9 program.

Award-winning Service 

Richards went on to earn a slate of awards in 1999: Officer of the

Year from the Texas Municipal Police Association, Lifesaving Award from Houston ISD Police Department, the Astrodome Rotary Club Outstanding & Dedicated Service Citation, and the K-9 Unit Citation from Houston ISD Police Department. Richards has been turning dogs on death row into “detect and protect” K-9s ever since. “A strong faith and much prayer have been the bedrock of my service,” says Richards, who left the force to devote himself full-time as a specialized K-9 and companion dog trainer. In 2006 the media dubbed him “Katy’s Dog Whisperer.”

The Cleanest Kennel in Katy 

Jack and his Scottish bride, Fiona, were married December 15, 1989 and are a match made in doggie heaven. Fiona founded Privileged Pets in 1995, a boarding kennel and pet sitting service that enjoys an excellent reputation and is among the cleanest in Katy. In fact, customers comment that it doesn’t smell like a kennel at all. “We keep it immaculate, which is no small feat, because we want all our boarding dogs to be healthy. They have large fields to romp in and we attend to dogs with special needs, as well,” says Fiona. In fact, her pet-sitting services are popular with families who want to travel while keeping their pets at home. “We are trusted by homeowners to feed, groom and keep their pets company.” Celebrity clients include Frank Bielec of TLC’s  Trading Spaces, television host Katisha Cosley of the Deals Show on the LiveWell Network, and Roger and Debbie Clemens. But the heart of the kennel lies in the community and the families who count on them. Privileged Pets has won numerous awards and heartily support CAPS. “In fact, we help place animals for CAPS and often take in strays, providing them medical care and finding them homes,” says Fiona.

Training Milestones 

Surprisingly, the couple’s favorite breed is a Chihuahua. “I fell in love with several Chihuahuas and found they are easily trainable. My Chi, Twix, delights audiences by balancing on a basketball– his favorite trick,” says Richards. He also trains any garden-variety mutt, which reminds him of the companions he surrounded himself with as a boy.

Some canine clients need the basic lessons of sit, stay, or fetch. Others have ‘issues’ such as separation anxiety, incessant barking or bad manners. “All have needs that must be met and instincts that must be understood,” says Richards. “Relationship training is all about a partnership between dogs and their owners.” It’s a lot like the relationship between people and the Lord. “Everyone needs a master,” he explains. “The dog looks to us for guidance and purpose in the same way we look to God.”

The goal is a dog with some life-skills, and owners with some dog-skills. Find out more about Jack Richards dog training tips at www.privilegedpets.com.

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