Jean with Lucy (L) and Chipmunk
I have worked with animals since I was a small child in Maryland. My mother has a photo of me, age 4 years, riding a pony. At the age of 10, I was training the family golden retriever to run through a series of homemade jumps in the back yard. At 13, with my first "dog of my own," 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. Then, I went to work as a journalist on a number of local newspapers. As a means of earning some extra income, I started doing some pet sitting in 1990. My small business blossomed and in time, I left my full time job and pursued pet care full time. In order to have more time with my own growing menagerie, I gradually converted my pet care business to dog boarding and daycare in my home. I have happily continued this vocation ever since.
I'm a crossover trainer. By this I mean that I started my training experience with more traditional, coercive methods, using choke chains and prong collars, and leash pops to correct dogs' mistakes. I will never forget the regret I felt as I witnessed my first whippet flinching when first corrected with his new prong collar. The expression on his sweet face broke my heart, but I knew of no other means of training at the time. He did learn, but I've always wondered at what cost that learning occurred.
Fortunately, I found my way - crossed over - to positive training. What a relief, to discover a kind way to train! Positive reinforcement training, and then clicker training, resonated with me. Not only did my dogs learn more effectively, but we both 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; 11/19/90 - 1/14/98) 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; 5/11/93 - 7/22/08) and in 1995 by another half brother, Griffin (NSS Ch Merci Isle Sleight of Hand, LCM, CD, CGC, CR, 6/29/95 - 3/17/11). In 1999 I added a Lucy (Rembrandt's Comic Relief), a miniature poodle, to the family. These dogs broadened my canine horizons and together 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, Rally O and K9 Nose Work©. Together we have also enjoyed agility and Wag It Games.
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 started assisting 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 completed the Karen Pryor Academy and am now proud to be a Certified Training Partner. In 2011, I was in the first East coast group to complete the rigorous program and become a Certified Nose Work Instructor™.
While Dexter, Griffin, Lucy, Jinx and her daughters Pekoe, Mirra, and Leica, and son Nudge now and forever live only in my heart, I still share my home with two whippets, two cats and a pair of society finches. I also have a horse who 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!