I have worked with animals since I was a small child in Maryland. My mother has a photo of me on a pony at the age of 4, and at the age of 10 I was training the family golden retriever to run through a series of homemade jumps in the backyard. With my first "dog of my own" at 13, I embarked on a full training program, and for years had a very well-trained—and very attached—best friend.
After graduating from Colby College in 1980, I moved to Massachusetts and went back to school to earn my associate's degree in animal technology. For a time I worked in an area veterinary clinic. Later, I went to work as a journalist for a number of local newspapers. To earn some extra income, I started doing pet-sitting in 1990. My small business blossomed and, in time, I left my fulltime job to pursue pet care fulltime. To have more time with my own growing menagerie, I converted my pet-care business to boarding and daycare for dogs in my home.
I have been happily continuing this vocation ever since. As a crossover trainer I will never forget the regret I felt as I witnessed my first whippet flinching after being corrected with a new prong collar. The expression on his sweet face broke my heart, but at that time I knew of no other means of training. The whippet did learn, but I've always wondered at what cost that learning occurred. Fortunately, I found my way—crossed over—to positive reinforcement training.
What a relief to discover a kind way to train! Clicker training resonated with me. Not only did my dogs learn more effectively, but we all enjoyed the process and our relationships deepened in ways I had never imagined.
My love affair with whippets began with that first poor boy in a prong collar. His name was Dexter (Merci Isle Honeydripper, SC) and he was a gift from a dear friend. In 1993, he was joined by his half-sister Jinx (FC Merci Isle Wink of an Eye, LCM, CR), and in 1995 by another half-brother, Griffin (NSS Ch Merci Isle Sleight of Hand, LCM, CD, CGC, CR). These dogs broadened my canine horizons and we attended many, many dog shows, lure coursing trials, and whippet race meets. Since that time, I have bred four litters; over the years my dogs have pointed and titled in conformation, lure coursing, racing, obedience, and Rally-O. Together we have also enjoyed agility and, now, nose work.
My experiences with my own dogs led me into a new life. The more I trained, the more fascinated I became with training and canine behavior. I began to assist in obedience classes, and in 2002 attended the Dogs of Course Instructor Training Course. I became a Certified Professional Dog Trainer in 2005, and have enjoyed teaching puppy kindergarten, beginner and advanced beginner obedience, attention, Rally-O, and beginner through intermediate agility classes. In January 2010, I graduated from Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) and am now proud to be a Certified Training Partner (CTP). While Dexter, Jinx, Jinx's daughter Pekoe, and Jinx's son Nudge are forever buried in my heart, my husband and I still share our home with Griffin, five other whippets, a miniature poodle, and two cats. I also have a horse that lives at a nearby farm. He and I enjoy our work in dressage, riding area trails, and just hanging out together. And yes, I clicker train him as well!