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Gone to the Dogs

A 140-pound King Shepherd isn’t the normal accessory for a glamorous, jet-setting philanthropist, but where Kristi Schiller goes so does Johnny Cash, a long-hair Lothario with an eye for protecting his human pack and an appetite for chicken fried steaks and the occasional landscape rock.

“He has logged more private plane hours than most pilots and blows me away with his superhuman abilities,” laughs Schiller.

In addition to Johnny Cash, Schiller is almost always accompanied by two tri-colored Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and the most recent addition, A Belgian Malinois “bomb dog” named Daisy. From her River Oaks home in Houston to the ranch in Millican, Texas, just south of College Station and her husband’s alma mater Texas A&M University, her rowdy, but well-mannered K-9 entourage is just one of the many things that set Schiller apart from the stereotypical socialite.

Schiller is a social entrepreneur with a fashionable flare and cowgirl grit.

A true Texas woman, Schiller grew up “where the pavement ends and the Gulf of Mexico begins” in Freeport, Texas, just southwest of Houston. Her parents taught her early on that self-worth comes from within.

“I grew up on a shipyard along the Texas Gulf Coast, where there were oyster shells in everyone’s driveways” she relates. “I was raised to be resourceful and make your

own path, not sit on the side of the street as the parade drove by. I started serving on my first board of the local orphanage at a mere 18 and from this I launched a toy drive for birthdays and holidays for these children, who were not yet placed in foster homes. My parents never explained to us someone had less than but rather how much more you can help the next person, whether it be with knowledge, sweat equity or through monetary involvement. I was raised to

see a broader side of charity than most. Realistically, we exist temporarily through what we take, but we live forever through what we give. I was instilled at a very early age by my parents, ‘If you have…then you DO.’”

Armed with a degree in broadcast journalism, Schiller spent ten years in broadcasting from early stints on national radio to E! Entertainment Television and Hard Copy. She later found a new voice as internet entrepreneur, earning the title of “Queen of the Internet” from Forbes Magazine in 1997.

In 2001, Schiller met John,  Chairman and CEO of Energy XXI, one of the largest independent oil producers in the Gulf of Mexico…

 

To read the rest of this article, click here to download the PDF of K-9 COP Magazine

Dreams Come True – The Rose Parade

California here we come! Everyone knows I love Southern California, but I absolutely CANNOT wait to head to Pasadena for the 125th Annual Tournament of Roses Parade this New Year’s Day!

I’m simply OVER THE MOON that K9s4COPs was honored by the Tournament of Roses Association with a float entry to the Rose Parade. The theme for the 125th Tournament is “Dreams Come True,” rather apropos for what K9s4COPs has accomplished in just three short years. Thanks to our generous supporters, we have gifted 50 K9s to 23 agencies since 2011.

The Tournament of Roses offers us an unprecedented opportunity to share K9s4COPs with the masses. The parade itself will have more than 700,000 in attendance andmore than 840,000 online viewers, and it will be televised before 74 million!

We—my husband John, daughter Sinclair and I, along with K9s4COPs Executive Director Liz Lara Carreno, Harris County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Ted Dahlin, whose tragic loss of his K9 partner Blek inspired the creation of the foundation, and Harris County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Mike Thomas —have the grand honor riding the K9s4COPs float with a 55-foot tall replica of my personal protection dog Johnny Cash, a King Shepherd, in full K9 protective gear.

Award- winning Fiesta Parade Floats has constructed our entry entitled, “Working Together For Safer Communities.” They’re also constructing a float for Miracle-Gro, which I’m sure they’re going to need to complete ours! In keeping with tradition, the entire float—even Johnny Cash’s fur and Kevlar vest, is made entirely of flowers – or seeds and grasses rather.

Our inaugural Rose Parade float is dedicated to the heroic law enforcement K9 units across America and the men and women in blue who work so hard to keep our communities safe.

I am so honored to have K9s4COPs be a part of the time-honored American tradition, and I think John said something about a football game???

Remembering Sandy Hook

On December 14, 2012, countless parents across the country had to fight the urge to go to their children as soon as the heard the news of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. The senseless murder of 26 people—20 precious children and six adults—rocked our nation.

The tragedy was a call to action for many, including myself. I listened to concerned parents debate the gun control versus guns in school paradigm and I read K9s4COPs’ applications requesting trained K9s for campus protection.

Working together to protect our communities through K9s4COPs meant protecting our children too, and the K9s4KIDs initiative was launched with the mission of providing highly-trained K9s to school districts and college campuses free of charge.

Many people think what good is a K9 in a shooting?

The mere presence of a trained K9 and their handler is a deterrent of any untoward activity whether it is physical violence or criminal doings. Statistics prove this over and over again.
If K9s trained in drug detection can keep schools drug-free, what can one trained in munitions detection do? They can keep guns and explosives off school property and away from our children!

You smell like gunpowder? YOU CAN’T COME IN!

And HEAVEN FORBID, a K9 is sent to disengage a shooter … that highly-qualified warrior can buy precious time for the innocent to flee or seek shelter. Even if just one life is saved, a K9 will have done its job.

As we reflect on the tragic event of last December, K9s4KIDs is moving forward, and through K9s4Cops, has already placed three K9s within two school districts.

There is a kinder, gentler alternative to school safety that doesn’t invade privacy and doesn’t force teachers into decisions that no human being should be asked to make and it’s K9s4KIDs.

Sinclair’s Summer

I’m simply OVER THE MOON that my daughter Sinclair has a full blown love affair with horses and barrel racing. My little 40 pound jockey has gone from trying to find a D in the alphabet this past spring to running in the 1D Labor Day weekend—in the OPEN! AGAINST ADULTS!

At Diamonds & Dirt™ this past March, she trotted and baby loped a blistering 46-second pattern on her steadfast mare Rosie. I SWEAR I’m having this mare cloned. She is a SAINT!

Later this spring we ventured off into pee wee rodeos. We did our first series at the Waller County Fairgrounds in Hempstead. Next thing I knew she was loping home from a broken pattern with her head thrown back and a smile on her face.

She was having fun; bottom line that’s why we do this. But, just how far will she take it?

We moved on to the next series—Little Britches in Field Store. Sinclair got to experience her first all-night rodeo, but never weakened, even when we finished at 3 a.m. She was getting faster and had moved up to Butter, a speed-demon pony that came from the family of Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier and former IPRA World Champion Jane Melby.

Butter was no softy though. He was testy to say the least, but she stayed hooked. She earned her first open checks with her plush Palomino pony.

Her confidence was growing in leaps and bounds. Was she ready for her first REAL barrel horse?

Sinclair’s next big test was the Ogden 8 & Under World Championships in Andrews, Texas. This was no backyard goat-roping, these young riders came to play with some serious horsepower. One of the horses we ran against was Mystic Angela, a former NFR record holder!

She ran Butter and Homie, a great gray gelding that is a solid campaigner that had carried my friend Shanna Brown’s daughter at Hempstead earlier this spring. The next thing I knew it was bye, bye Butter. I HAD NO IDEA that Homie would be next to go.

Once Sinclair saw other kids her age competing at such a high level, her competitive nature took over. (I have no idea where she got that from!) She went and spent two weeks with Jackie Ganter, one of the toughest youth barrel racers around and proud member of Team Woof Pack, a group of talented young riders who donate a portion of their earnings to K9s4COPs.

She saw how much work Jackie puts into her horses. After hanging out with Jackie, all she’s wanted to do is learn how to run barrels. The kid lives with LaTricia Duke, for heaven’s sake–all she had to do was walk to the barn to learn from the best of the best, but seeing how much work another kid put into it made her want to do it.

She went from having someone else booting her horses before and after a run to taking care of that herself. Of course, a good pile of dirt still calls to from time to time, but she’s learning her horses have to come first.

That dedication earned her a new mount—Little Bit. Professionally known as APHA World Champion Sugs Calico Dreamer, the Paint gelding was one of LaTricia’s first superstars. She knew he would be perfect for Sinclair. He’d do his job, but take care of his rider.

Little Bit and Sinclair ran in the 1D at the very tough Jurassic Classic over Labor Day Weekend, and she won the 1D Youth!

When you look at her 40 pounds and see the determination of driving this 1,100 pound amazing animal at top speed, you just sit and watch them in awe. Doodle, I’m so PROUD of YOU!

 

A Safer Alternative

The greatest attribute a child and dog has is their sense of fear. No one can detect “Stranger Danger” like our family K9s.

In watching these K9s go from warrior to pet in a matter of seconds, I knew that the very K9s that aid law enforcement and protect our families should be the ones protecting our children in schools.

With that in mind, K9s4Kids was created as an alternative, kinder and gentler approach to keeping our school children safe.

A socially-tuned K9 allows these precious angels a place of learning where they can embrace their innocence.  Statistics show that a trained K9 on campus serves as a double deterrent, keeping narcotics from being distributed and serving as a personal protection barrier between potential harm to our innocent students.

These K9s are extremely social, yet highly qualified warriors that are accustomed to going straight to the source of the dilemma—the shooter or threat—and disengaging the suspect.

In my vision I see returning war veterans with K9 handling experience finding a new role with their local school districts providing protection for our most vulnerable citizens.

Bottom line—if these heroic dogs can buy just an extra 30 seconds of time between an armed assailant and an innocent child, just imagine how many victims of these senseless shootings would still be with us!

Trust The Dogs

Recently, the Jordan family of South Carolina shared with the nation what I’ve known all along. When it comes to the safety of your family—TRUST THE DOGS!!!!

The Jordans’ 7-year-old dog Killian, a black lab-German shepherd mix—no less—became aggressive toward Alexis Khan, the babysitter who watched their 7-month-old son. With the use of a recording App on an I-Phone, they caught Khan—WHO HAD PASSED A BACKGROUND CHECK!—abusing their son. Khan is now serving time.

Just this Thursday night, we had real chaos at our home Casa Chaos. We were well tucked in for the evening, when a little after 10 p.m., our highly-trained Executive Protection K9s Johnny Cash and Daisy went BALLISTIC! I had no idea around 8:45 a suspect escaped at the Harris County Sherriff’s Office en route to being booked at 1200 Baker Street. Apparently he was still cuffed when he jumped in Buffalo Bayou that runs behind our home in River Oaks, which is about three miles away.

By midnight, they still would not come back in and were in full stealth—which means ANY un-welcome stranger was going to lose a limb! By 1 a.m., I was frustrated I could not get them to calm down (they were in and out and salivating with anxiousness), and I knew it was more than a flitting bunny on the loose driving them to this level of irritation along the Bayou. Early that morning, I saw on the news about the loose, handcuffed-prisoner and immediately realized what the issue was.

I called Sheriff Adrian Garcia and explained he still could be bedded down on the backside of our property, along the waterline—where the chaos was taking place. Immediately, Sheriff’s Deputies swarmed the house—Houston PD had a SWAT helicopter overhead and the HCSO K9 units—donated by K9s4COPS—were going in deep and were on the scent. Shortly, he was apprehended at his girlfriends on the southwest side of town. He had trenched down the Bayou and waited for someone to come get him.

I cannot begin to tell you the peace of mind a trained Executive Protection K9 brings to our family. If I had to choose between an alarm, handgun and a K9—TRUST ME, I would not hesitate to say give me all TRAINED K9’s! Their love for the families they protect knows NO BOUNDS!!!

Your horses do what exactly???

It’s always fun to try to explain to people what it is that my horses do and what Diamonds & Dirt is.

First I have to explain to them that I have barrel horses for barrel racing. You can image the vision that pops in their heads, right? I explain that it’s a largely women-dominated sport where riders guide their horses in a cloverleaf pattern around 55-gallon oil drums and the fastest time wins.

At least most of my husband’s Wall Street cohorts know what the oil drums are, and no they’re not filled with sweet crude. If you hit one of those going 30 miles per hour with your bare leg—Well, that would make my sciatica look tolerable!

As an aside, my sciatica is no longer an issue thanks to my wonderful doctors; however, as soon as I’m able my shins will be fair game as I make my return to the arena. Yes, I can ride. Yes, I do go fast. And, no I don’t fall off–intentionally.

I digress. Back to what my horses do…

As with all sports there are many levels of competition. At Schiller Ranch, we raise horses for futurity competition, which pits young barrel horses in their first year of competition against each other. They can be 4- or 5-years-old, but they have to be in their rookie season of barrel racing. It keeps the playing field level, but raises the gamble.

Outside of rodeos, futurities are the richest events for barrel horses. Our own Diamonds & Dirt Barrel Horse Classic, which raises money for K9s4COPs, is one of the richest in the industry. In fact, it ranked as one of the Top 10 events in the country in its debut.

I employ Latricia Duke to train my horses, and as she so eloquently told me when we first met, her job was to “take young stupid horses and make them look not so stupid.”

That philosophy works for her pretty well, she’s won more than $1 million running barrels and has trained several horses that have competed at the World’s Richest Rodeo—the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. In fact, one of those—Yeah Hes Firen—won the World Championship with Brittany Pozzi, who just happens to be the inaugural champion of the Diamonds & Dirt Barrel Horse Classic Futurity riding a horse a horse she raised and trained herself, Ima Super Fly Guy.

Now if that venture wasn’t risky enough, we have slot futurities, or slot races, as they’re often called. These lucrative races offer 50 “slots” for $5,000 apiece. Typically $220- to $225,000 is offered as the purse with the winning horse taking home $100,000.

The challenge is to pick your best futurity horse for the slot, and you have to do that well ahead of time. So you’re basically guessing, based on their performance in practice situations, which will be able to handle the pressure of actual competition the best.

So very risky, but so very rewarding.

My first futurity horse, Insane For Fame, won the Lance Graves Pro Classic Slot race in 2012. Stay tuned. You’ll be hearing  A LOT about her.

Horse Heaven

Our friends refer to the ranch as Schiller Land –The Texas version of Disney World.

It’s a great escape, tucked back in the Post Oaks away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

We keep a “dude” string of horses for our guests—You should see our friend Brooklyn native Will Bill Stanton sit a horse. We even have some beginner barrel racing mounts—our daughter Sinclair’s hand-me downs—for those willing to attempt sport. Aggie coach Kevin Sumlin’s son, Jackson, did and almost won a check at our Diamonds & Dirt Barrel Horse Classic this year.

The pride of Schiller Ranch is our ever-expanding herd of prize-winning barrel horses. The queen is undoubtedly Insane For Fame, my Craig’s List find that turned into a $180,000 Champion. We’ve added a King to the mix—Epic Leader, a talented young stallion that competed against, and occasionally bested, our Queen. We are anxiously awaiting their foal due in the spring of 2014.

Much to John’s chagrin, we’ve run out of room and are adding on to our barns. We have a training barn, a.k.a. Latricia Duke’s barn, where the competition horses and the horses in training reside. We also have, and are expanding the breeding barn, a.k.a. Donna Hanover’s barn, where the mares foal, babies are raised and our new stallion Epic resides with his companion Mighty Man, the miniature pony.

Simply put there are horses everywhere!

Can you believe it!

Did you know that the Diamonds & Dirt Barrel Horse Classic™ pays out more money than the women’s barrel race at RODEO HOUSTON!!!

Yep, it sure does. Last year, we awarded $369,427 in cold, hard cash, while the function in Reliant Stadium awarded $200,000.

Joking aside, RODEO HOUSTON is the richest professional rodeo outside of the Wrangler National Finals in Las Vegas, and we love having the rodeo gals stop by and play in our sand box (arena) too!

With the addition of a $225,000 slot race, the 2014 event should blow 2013 out of the water!

When we announced this past May that we’d pay $100,000 to the winner of a slot race open to 4- and 5-year-olds, it filled in a matter of HOURS! Poor LaTricia Duke—if she wanted something to keep her occupied on the drive to the Old Fort Days Futurity in Fort Smith, Ark., she got it!

Never in our wildest dreams did we believe this event would grow so fast in such a short time span. We have something for everyone—open races for competitors of all ages and abilities, aged events to test the mettle of our youngest horses, and a sweepstakes, which is a good old, fashioned bring-your-big-gun shootout between the best horses and riders at the peak of the careers.

Plus it’s an event to see and be seen. Shop, party and play—AND benefit a worthy cause while doing it.

All proceeds from the Diamonds & Dirt Barrel Horse Classic benefit K9s4COPs. Where else can you have a good time, win big checks and possibly save a life?