Our story

Four Rivers Kennel was founded in 2011 by Dr. Craig N. Coon as an independent facility for large breed canine nutrition research and dog feeding trials. Our research colony consists of only Labrador Retrievers, one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. We have an expansive facility on 180 acres in rural Missouri, where we provide our dogs quality care, exercise, and daily outdoor time. 

Our aim is to provide the allied pet food industry with sound nutrition research and accurate results using large breed dogs. Differences in physiology compared to the industry standard Beagles can improve our understanding of nutrition for the pet food industry as a whole.  

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We do lab work!


dr. craig coon

Dr. Coon spent his early years at Texas A&M University, earning his B.S. in animal science, M.S. in plant physiology and biochemistry, and Ph.D. in biochemistry and biophysics. Dr. Coon has been a faculty member involved in research, teaching, and extension at the University of Maryland, Washington State University, University of Minnesota, and now the University of Arkansas. Dr. Coon is a world-renowned poultry nutritionist and is now applying his extensive knowledge to canine nutrition. Dr. Coon developed Four Rivers Kennel as part of a mission to provide independent nutrition research for the companion animal and pet food industries. 

mary ann boggess

If you’ve visited the kennel, you’ve probably met Mary Ann Boggess. Mary Ann is Craig’s partner and co-founder of Four Rivers Kennel. Originally from west Texas, Mary Ann  finished school at Texas Tech and went on to manage a cattle ranch in Belize in the 70s and 80s. After putting together the build for the kennel and facilities, Mary Ann moved to the kennel full time in 2013. Mary Ann is the co-owner and chief financial officer of Four Rivers Kennel. 

jason fowler

Jason Fowler is the Vice President of Operations for Four Rivers Kennel and has broad experience spanning all facets of canine nutrition. Jason joined FRK over 10 years ago and has played an integral role in the rapid growth of the company, including overseeing the addition of our cell culture lab and metabolomics lab. He studied biology and chemistry at Missouri Southern State University. In his free time, Jason serves on several local community committees, including the Nevada Community Council on the Performing Arts.


Claire Timlin, PhD, is the Director of Research & Development at Four Rivers Kennel and has extensive experience in animal science and reproduction. Prior to her time at FRK, Claire spent several years working to improve reproductive efficiency of beef cattle using assisted reproductive technologies. Claire earned her PhD in Bovine Reproductive Physiology from Virginia Tech, and her BS in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois- Urbana-Champaign. In her free time, Claire enjoys volunteering for the National Association of Intercollegiate Gymnastics Clubs (NAIGC) and playing with her three dogs

sarah dickerson, phd

Sarah Dickerson, PhD, is the Senior Research Scientist for Four Rivers Kennel’s Canine Senior Center, and has broad expertise in instrumental analysis, methods development, reproductive neuroendocrinology, and endocrine disruption. Sarah received her BS in Biology from Sam Houston State University, where she studied the in vitro effects of curcumin derivatives on programmed cell death in a human leukemia cell line. Following graduation, she worked as an analytical chemist and explored an interest in atmospheric chemistry at Texas A&M University before starting her graduate studies in Pharmacology & Toxicology at the University of Texas at Austin. Her graduate research explored the impact of environmental endocrine disruptors on the development of brain regions that control reproductive function. She is a member of the Association for Women in Science and is also involved in community outreach and promotion of STEM education, particularly in the recruitment of women to careers in science. 

fiona mccracken

Fiona McCracken is the Lead Research Assistant for Four Rivers Kennel. Before joining FRK, Fiona honed her research skills through participation in Southwest University’s CATALYST research program, and she was an undergraduate research assistant for several academic labs in the chemistry and biology departments of the institutions where she studied. During the COVID-19 public health emergency, Fiona worked with a diverse team from UTHealth Science Center San Antonio on the largest systematic review of COVID-19 and MIS-C in pediatric patients. Fiona received her Bachelor of Science degree from Cottey College, where her undergraduate thesis focused on the role of serotonin in gut function and dysregulation. While she was earning her BS, Fiona established a standard protocol for our cell culture models. During her tenure at FRK, she has completed several research projects, submitted a scientific manuscript summarizing the results, and presented the data at a national conference. Fiona is a passionate supporter of equitable access to science education and STEM. Toward this end, she has previously coordinated a peer mentorship program and has given career talks to students in middle to high school.

patrick skaggs

Patrick Skaggs is the lead Laboratory Technician at Four Rivers Kennel. Born and raised in St. Louis, Patrick brings with him nearly ten years of quality experience of chemical processing in the aerospace industry, including testing and analysis. In his downtime, Patrick enjoys playing the ukulele and skateboarding.




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