I grew up on a small farm with horses, sheep, miniature donkeys, and an assortment of random livestock and barn cats. We always had dogs of one kind or another, from Corgis to Mini Dachshunds to Jack Russell Terriers, and occasionally bred a litter. But I didn’t become interested in training dogs until I lived on my own and began to rescue them.
My first rescue was a Red-Tick Coonhound with serious separation anxiety. Through her I was introduced to the world of positive reinforcement training. Molly passed from cancer at just 8 years of age and I was devastated. I only lasted a month in my lonely home before I went to the Humane Society in search of a new companion.
Maddie’s kind eyes and happy wagging tail won me over in about 3 seconds flat. She was about a year old when I adopted her, and I immediately enrolled her in classes at Xcel so she could learn basic house manners. It became clear right away that she loved to please me, and was a quick learner, catching the eyes of the Xcel trainers who encouraged me to consider competing. AKC had recently started allowing mixed breeds to be registered and compete as Canine Partners in several AKC events.
Maddie passed her CGC and TDI tests, and we began training and competing in Rally, Obedience, Agility, and Barn Hunt. I also started assisting the Xcel instructors with their classes, and my passion for training has continued to grow. The more I learn, the more I want to learn! Working with the different trainers at Xcel I have learned there are a multitude of ways to teach a behavior!
My fiancé and I share our home with my lab mix (Maddie), a German Shepherd /Pit Bull mix (Si), and 2 rescue Pitties (Bodhi and Bella), plus 2 crazy cool cats! Bodhi just began competing, earning 2 Rally Novice legs in his first 2 trials. He also has his CGC and Novice Trick Dog. Bella is just 18 months old and we are beginning her training in nose work.
I am an Evaluator for the AKC’s Farm Dog Certified program, and I am awaiting approval as a CGC and Trick Dog Evaluator. I am currently obsessed with podcasts by my dog training idols, and at this point I definitely consider myself a positive training and behavior geek! I love helping others learn to train their own dogs and working with them to find the best solutions to their behavior issues.