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The History of OtterTail Pet Resort

Karen & her rescued companion, Nikoli

OTPR opened in March 2007 as the original “pet resort” in our region. So different than any other traditional boarding kennels in the area, OtterTail enjoyed nearly 13 years of wonderful clients and success (around 3800 pets!). Then came Covid-19 . . . like all resorts and hotels, we struggled through the summer of 2020 to keep our amazing staff on payroll, pay bills, and issue refunds of deposits to all the clients who had future reservations booked, but suddenly needed to cancel. Daycare clients stopped coming, as everyone was working from home. By the time Labor Day arrived, it was obvious that Covid was here to stay for much longer than any of us could have comprehended. Sadly, we made the very difficult decision to close “temporarily” with hopes that the new year would bring travelers back and make Covid go away!

Well, fast forward a few years to today . . . virtual learning with a middle-schooler (I learned that I can easily handle 15 dogs at a time, but not one 13-year-old boy homeschooling!); a police-officer husband working during unprecedented tribulations; a failing 100-year-old grandmother of whom I cared for 15+ years; my “off season side job” (bookkeeping/payroll/tax preparation); and several beautiful litters of MarshyHope Labradors . . .the days passed quickly.

I was so fortunate to have the ability to care for my grandmother until she passed peacefully at home in February 2022. Seth is thriving at Delmar Middle School now and old enough to be a real help on the farm (when he’s not playing football!). Rob decided to take an early retirement after a long recovery from major shoulder surgery and 22 years with Wicomico County. Folks are finally traveling again, and by the tremendous response to our reopening announcement, we have been missed! THANK YOU! We are very glad to be back! We will be operating on a much smaller scale than pre-covid and taking it one day at a time, like so many other small businesses. Thank you, in advance, for your patience with us as we get this party started again!
-Karen Sullivan Parker

Original History, March 2007: Karen’s passion for dogs started at an early age when she was lucky to grow up in Delmar (on the family farm where OTPR is now located) with two mixed breed chow-chows who taught her the beginnings of dealing with the many levels of the dog mind. Living with companions who possessed such passionate loyalty, extreme defense drive, and unpredictable behavior, started her on the journey to understanding why these proud animals did what they did – and how to handle and manage their needs. Ultimately, it is her understanding of the needs, desires, and genetics of different dogs, that lead Karen to make her mark in the world of competitive dog events with Labrador Retrievers (a.k.a “ottertails”) – a kind, gentle, and compassionate breed that she found would work endlessly to please and could surely bring pleasure to everyone they encounter.

It is because of this wonderful breed that OtterTail Pet Resort got its name . . . the otter tail of a Labrador Retriever is the breed’s trademark – it acts as a rudder as the dog maneuvers through the water. It is the only breed of dog identified in the AKC Breed Standard with this distinguishing feature. It seemed only fitting that the name of this wonderful facility would reflect her love for her own beloved companions!

Karen is a graduate of the University of Delaware (BS in Agriculture Business & Economics) and worked as a pharmaceutical representative for 11 years, specializing in diabetes/insulin management.  She decided to leave corporate America to follow her dream – and it’s been an amazing and rewarding endeavor!


Karen has had many successes in the world of dogs . . . conformation wins, obedience titles, Therapy Dog International program awards, etc. You can learn more about her own dogs by checking out MarshyHopeLabradors.com  She is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator for the American Kennel Club (Evaluator #15833) and a participant of the Bred with H.E.A.R.T. program. Karen is a member of many local breed and national clubs and organizations.  She has earned the credentials to become an AKC Breeder of Merit and MarshyHope Labradors, Reg. has a distinguished breeding program that has been officially registered by name with the American Kennel Club.

Her reputation in the dog community is impeccable and OtterTail Pet Resort is the culmination of all her dreams – bringing pets and their owners together in a way that can deepen their bond, improve their daily lives, and reflect the true love and loyalty that each has for the other.  And, of course, to give those wonderful pets a safe, clean, and comfortable vacation spot when their owners must be away.