Sam grew up in a family where all but one of her siblings had four legs! She started her professional training career when she was 19 years old at a very busy PetSmart in Colorado Springs; that store became one of PetSmart’s top-performing training locations. Sam was originally hired as a cashier, but within a few months she grabbed the eye of the training team and was inducted into the world of positive reinforcement training and clicker training through the company’s program designed by Dr. Suzanne Hetts. In Sam's two years at the store, she worked with more than 300 dogs from Lhasa Apsos to Cane Corsos, along with their families. Sam taught Basic through Advance Manners classes, CGC-level classes, and creative trick classes. She also assisted a client who was beginning to self-train his service dog.
During this time, Sam discovered a passion for learning as she applied and studied the science behind clicker training. She left PetSmart to continue her education, and graduated from Fort Lewis College in May of 2014. Sam jumped back into the training world quickly after graduation, working with Durango-area trainer Annie Phenix. Her role was to assist Annie in classes designed for reactive dogs. Looking to expand her training knowledge through a formal program, Sam sought out the intensive Karen Pryor Academy (KPA), enrolled in the KPA Dog Trainer Professional program, and became a KPA Certified Training Partner (CTP). These days, Sam continues to assist Annie Phenix with her business, volunteers with the local humane society, and is working towards becoming a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA).
Along with her experience working with members of the canine community, Sam also loves to work with people of all ages and from many different backgrounds. She works as a Family and Health Advocate at the La Plata Family Centers. Sam has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology (Human Services and Gender and Women's Studies), is a certified life coach through Guiding Mindful Change, is trained and experienced in Motivational Interviewing, and is heavily involved in community building.