Patricia’s love of animals began as a child. She has a vivid memory of her first dog, a boxer named Candy. Her memory includes the view from just above the dog’s back, and the thought, “I wonder how I can ride her?” That was not permitted, of course, but it was a very interesting consideration at that young age!
Growing up, Patricia was fortunate to have a variety of animal experiences. Through the years, her family owned dogs, cats, and birds. Living in South Florida, she also collected hermit crabs and small lizards. Summers usually meant family car trips. Her favorites were those that included riding horses in the mountains.
Patricia trained her first dog at the age of 13. He was a black miniature poodle who was given to her following the sudden death of her father. They became almost constant companions and Patricia figured out how to teach him to jump through a hoop and smile on cue.
Years later, married with two beautiful daughters, Patricia co-owned Stonehedge Arabians, a very small Egyptian Arabian horse farm. She also returned to school, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Elmhurst College in Illinois. Patricia later went on to earn a master’s degree in education, and then a degree as an Educational Specialist in school psychology from National Louis University in Evanston, Illinois.
The first two years of Patricia’s career in school psychology were spent as the assistant director of the Center for Learning at NLU. For the next 20+ years, she focused primarily on early childhood special education and autism. During that time, she spent seven years providing discrete trial teaching, called ABA Therapy, to young children with autism. She also worked part-time as a professional dog obedience trainer, graduating from North State K-9 Academy of Tarheel Canine Training, Inc. in 1998. Patricia trained her own dogs to be therapy dogs and brought them to school to work with students as often as possible. In 2007, she started a formal therapy-dog program for high school students with autism and other disabilities, and published a series of articles about her work in a breed magazine. In March of 2008, she was thrilled when Animal-Assisted Therapy was finally included on one of her students’ Individual Educational Plans (IEP)!
Patricia broadened her training and experience with animals to include wild birds. Following a Raptors-in-Residence Internship at Springbrook Nature Center in Itasca, Illinois, she volunteered at Barnswallow, a wild-bird rescue in Wauconda, Illinois. There she worked with birds such as hawks, falcons, owls, and kestrels.
In January of 2011, Patricia graduated from the Dog Trainer Program at Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) as a Certified Training Partner (CTP). She retired from public school work the following June.
Patricia’s goal is to share how clicker training enhances the human-canine bond. When you talk about your dog, she wants you to joyfully say “We Just Click!”®