I’m just another Average Joe (Average Jane?) that got sucked into the canine behavior and training world. I started out like many, obnoxiously preaching the power of positive reinforcement and getting unreasonably upset arguing with strangers about how horrible Cesar Millan is. I stopped going down the fundamentalist rabbit hole just short of legitimately considering prong collars to be cruel torture devices. Don’t get me wrong; I still promote and use “positive reinforcement,” I still think Cesar Millan’s techniques are terribly misguided, and I’m still not the biggest fan of prong collars. But as I’ve continued to learn, I’ve adopted a much more sensible stance on things regarding dog training, and I’m always open to new, scientific information that may tell me I’m wrong. Continuing education is critical no matter what path you walk in life.
If you’re like me, you’re probably sitting there wondering, “Okay great. But why should I listen to you? What have you accomplished in the world of dog training? You have impeccable grammar and spelling, but I don’t see any fancy letters after your name or your dog’s!”
Fantastic observation skills, my friend! Know that at no point will I say I am any authority on dogs or that you should listen to me. If that were the case, I’d probably be traveling around the world giving expensive lectures instead of rambling on a little-known blog. However, I do have a few credentials under my belt that make me more qualified than your average dog owner.
I began researching dog behavior and training in 2009 and I was hooked, though I still wish I had developed a passion for something that would actually make me some decent money. In September 2010 I began volunteering for Louisville Metro Animal Services. I did everything from dish washing to handling off-site adoptions every weekend for several months. Helping shelter animals continues to be a passion of mine to this day.
From January 2012 to April 2013 I did a behavior internship with Kat Rooks, the Behavior Manager at the Kentucky Humane Society. It was fantastic and I learned a great deal about science-based training and behavior. Kat and I worked together to help shelter dogs with behavioral issues or even just some basic obedience. From July 2012 to April 2013 I was also the primary caseworker on the Kentucky Humane Society’s behavior helpline, giving free advice to those who needed help for their pets.
In February 2012 I got swept up into the Slugger City Bully Buddies crew and have been helping them out. SCBB is a bully breed education and advocacy group. They go around educating the public about bully breeds and offering free training classes to bully breed owners (a few of which I assisted in). In July 2013 I moved up to New England, but I still help SCBB out with things here and there online. I briefly worked at the Upper Valley Humane Society before taking a more stable job at a local dog boarding/daycare facility.
In December 2013 I completed the Karen Pryor Academy’s “Shelter Training and Enrichement” program. I also attended ClickerExpo in March 2012 and the SPARCS conference in June 2014 where I embarrassed myself by asking Patricia McConnell if “PMac” is her gang name (unfortunately, it is not). In addition, I’ve done a teeny bit of dog training on the side as a hobby.
I have a black German Shepherd mix named Shadow. We adopted him from a shelter in Arkansas back in 2002. I couldn’t have asked for a better dog. He earned his CGC in July 2012. He is living proof that old dogs can learn new tricks. Due to some awkward life happenings (that is totally the technical term), we are also temporarily caring for my boyfriend’s dad’s Border Collie mix, Daisy. She is utterly delightful to live and work with.