With more than a half a million pet books in print and hundreds of articles on pets and their care and training to her credit, Nikki Moustaki is considered one of the country's leading pet experts. She is an award winning freelance writer, animal trainer, and pet industry expert, and the host of Nikki Knows Pets, a pet product review blog. Her tireless work feeding shelter pets with her innovative website, The Pet Postcard Project, along with her hands-on rescue efforts and vocal advocacy for homeless animals, has led her to be dubbed "Saint Nik."
Nikki Moustaki is also considered an "Urban Dog Guru," specializing in training city dogs for their particular needs. She has published more than 45 books of nonfiction, primarily on the care and training of pets.
Her pet books and articles have been translated into five languages and her books have sold more than half a million copies worldwide. In addition to working as a dog trainer, Nikki is one of the country's foremost experts on parrots, having authored more than 24 books on birds and their care and training. Her expertise in pets ranges from dogs and cats to fish and hermit crabs, and everything else in between.
The memoir about Nikki's childhood with her paternal grandfather and their shared love of birds, “The Bird Market of Paris,” is forthcoming from Henry Holt in early 2015.
Nikki's two primary interests – writing and animals – collide in her work, allowing her to travel through both the landscape of the literary writer and the interesting world of the pet industry. She writes feature articles for many pet-related magazines, including Dogster (formerly Dog Fancy), Popular Dogs, Dogs USA, CATS Magazine, Cat Fancy, Pet Product News, Bird Talk, Birds USA, Ponds, Rescue Me, and Water Garden News, among others. Nikki also writes a rescue column, MUTTerings, for Dogster magazine's website, DogChannel.com and wrote a training column called "Ask the Trainer" for iLoveDogs.com.
She also works with pet product companies on product development, marketing and positioning, and social media, and has worked with Halo Pets, Canyon Creek Ranch, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, Rachel Ray Nutrish, Wigzi toys, Lafeber Company, Wahl Pet, Alen Air, Home Again ID (Schering Plough), Spectrum Brands, Critter Zone, and Tick-SR, among others, and has been a national spokesperson for several pet products and companies, including Purina.
An energetic, lively, and personable TV and radio guest, Nikki also hosted a pet-related cable show on The Beach Channel in Miami Beach, and she hosted, co-produced, and co-wrote the national NBC/MSN show, The Celebrity Pet Dish, with her Miniature Schnauzer, Pepper, as her co-host.
Nikki has been featured in The New York Times, The New York Post, Glamour Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal, among others. Her television and radio highlights include CNN, Howard Stern (XM Sirius Radio), NBC News, ABC News, Inside Edition, South Florida Live, Inside South Florida, FOX News, CBS News, Martha Stewart Radio (XM Sirius Radio), and BBC Radio, and has appeared on national talk shows, including The Dr. Oz Show and The Doctors. She was also the animal handler for the second season of the Tony Danza Show, where she often appeared live on-air along with her parrot and dog.
Nikki splits her time between New York City and Miami Beach with her two rescue dogs, Pearl and Jasmine, and a variety of fish.
When she’s not writing, you can find Nikki rocking out on the drums, teaching herself 80s metal on her Gibson guitar or strumming the ukulele, rescuing dogs from the shelter, and working on her various charity projects, including The Pet Postcard Project.
Nikki's love for animals
Nikki's love of animals began very early. She had many animals growing up, including cats, dogs, and birds, and then started riding horses hunter/jumper style at 8 years old, spending many days in the barn with the horses, ponies, goats, and chickens, caring for these animals from dawn until dusk.
Her first job at 15 years old was in a grooming salon, washing dogs for $2.75 an hour, where she became knowledgable about grooming products. At 17, she was hired to work in a large pet store (which would eventually became a huge chain) as the "fish girl." Her job was to care for over 100 fish tanks, both fresh and salt water, and to help customers purchase and stock tanks. She started a fish hobby with 7 large tanks (salt and fresh) of her own, joined a fish club, and then started her own fish tank servicing business.
At 18, Nikki acquired her first baby lovebird, which set her on a path to a bird hobby, breeding and handfeeding thousands of baby birds. At the height of her bird keeping, she had over 120 birds in a variety of species. At 21, she went to work as manager of a bird store, then moved on to work for an independent pet retailer, where she learned everything about the pet products they sold. When she was 23, she stopped breeding birds and started rescuing them instead, taking in unwanted birds and finding them homes. She joined a bird club and started writing for Bird Talk magazine. She began training birds, and would go on years later to be the bird handler for the Tony Danza show (2005-2006).
By this time, Nikki had kept 5 cats, many bird species, a variety of aquatic turtles, tortises in several species, snakes, salamanders, hermit crabs (loads of them!), hamsters, gerbils, rats (furry and hairless), mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, and even a turkey. She had also grown up with Dobermans and a Pomeranian. Animals were her siblings and friends.
pet books by nikki moustaki
When Nikki was 28, she adopted her first shelter dog, Pepper. She started using bird training methods on him, and when that didn't work, she set about to learn everything she could about dogs and dog training. She apprenticed with a dog trainer for a few months, and then started training her friends' and neighbors' dogs, experimenting with a variety of methods. After a few years, she started a successful dog training business in NYC and began writing for magazines such as Dog Fancy, Popular Dogs, and Dogs USA.
In 2001, Nikki began writing books on birds, including Parrots for Dummies and several books in the Animal Planet pet care series. A few years later, she began writing books about the care and training dogs as well. In 2005, she volunteered at the ASPCA's behavior center, learning appropriate positive reinforvement methods to train aggressive dogs. She also volunteered at The Wild Bird Fund, Manhattan's only wildlife care center.
In 2002, Nikki rescued a second shelter dog, Ozzie; in 2004 she pulled a stray mutt off the street, named her Lulu Belle, and kept her; in 2009 and 2010 Nikki adopted two more dogs, Pearl and Zoey, a mutt and a white Schnauzer, and in late 2012, adopted an champagne Poodle named Jasmine. She started working hands-on in dog and cat rescue in 2007, volunteering at a shelter and pulling dogs for a Schnauzer rescue. She currently fosters shetler dogs and helps them find the right homes. She also trains aggressive dogs pro-bono so that they don't end up in the shelter system.
Today, along with her writing, Nikki consults with pet product companies on both their product research and development and their social media and marketing strategies. She is an important link between their business and the consumer. She is also a survivor of Neurological Lyme Disease and works to help spread the message of tick prevention and safety for both dogs and humans.