Getting to know Miss Behavior...
Growing up, I always had a passion for animals and knew that I would one day find a way to make a career out of what I love. Having grown up in a large town but small schools, I was a little overwhelmed when I first enrolled in college at UNH. I originally enrolled as undeclared in the Life Sciences and Agriculture school but just a few weeks in, I learned about a great Associate's Degree Program in the Thompson School. There, I found exactly what I was looking for. I was guided to an internship program at the NH SPCA where I worked alongside the head of the Behavior & Training Department. I spent the next couple of years earning that Associate's Degree in Animal Science and learning all I could about dog behavior and teaching group classes.
Teaching my first class was pretty intimidating for me. Growing up, I certainly would have been classified as quiet so the idea of having to teach a group of people seemed very daunting to me. However, I was lucky enough to be teaching alongside my good friend and current colleague so the initial pressure was off a bit. Not only that, but I was teaching a topic that I felt very passionate about. It didn't take long before I truly loved and thrived on the idea of being able to make a difference in the lives of dogs and people who just needed to learn how to speak each other's language a bit better. Not only would I see changes in the dogs from week to week, but I would see some amazing changes in the people I taught as well - their patience, empathy, and problem solving skills. I simply couldn't imagine a more rewarding experience!
As the years went on, my friend and I started teaching separate classes and really grew in our own specialties and skills. After about 3 years at the NHSPCA, I moved on to start my "Miss Behavior" business and started teaching in the Portsmouth area. Meanwhile, I also received my Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from UNH. My business took off pretty well but not long after that, my husband and I bought a house in New Durham, NH. It was still local enough to be able to keep my current clients as needed, but far enough away that I had to essentially start over.
Currently, I'm 3 years into being in the New Durham area (and 5 years into my business) and in that time, I have been certified as a Professional Dog Trainer, a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator, and a C.L.A.S.S. Evaluator.
Fletcher: was my first "adoptee" from the NHSPCA. We found each other in 2007 when he was about a year old. Originally a stray from South Carolina, he came with a lot of fears, likely from under socialization. We have overcome separation anxiety, fear of strangers (90% there), fear of thunderstorms and other loud noises, among quite a few other triggers. He is now my "tricks" dog. You can find his tricks videos on that portion of my website. He has been a great addition to my family and I have learned quite a bit from my experiences with him
Felix: Also an adoptee from the NHSPCA, I found him a year after Fletcher came home when he was about a year and a half. All I knew of his history was that he was picked up by animal control in Alabama with an embedded collar. He is a pretty social guy, definitely not people shy but he is very sensitive to loud noises, a raised voice, car rides, and some new environments. He came with some food guarding behavior (which has improved by 99%, always leaving a 1% chance for any dog's unpredictability). I had taken him out to work with him at the shelter after he had been there a month and was quite literally bouncing off the walls. I had a client with a dog-reactive pit bull at the time and he actually calmed her right now. He's extremely appeasing and happy-go-lucky, able to make friends all around. He knows quite a few tricks himself and can often be seen as my sidekick for private sessions, as needed.
Cora: Cora originally came up from Texas with many siblings and went to a great foster home through Canine Guardians for Life. I had evaluated the litter at about 3 months old to help place them in their adoptive homes, at which point I fell for Cora ("Erica" at the time). However, as was probably smart, my husband wasn't on the same page as me in welcoming another 4-legged into our home, beyond fostering. Well, a couple months went by, in which time I had fostered Cora's sister and adopted her out. The rest of Cora's siblings had also gone off to loving homes, leaving just her behind. The foster mom had to go away for a few days so I offered to take Cora for that time, against my better judgement. Needless to say, she never left. She was the perfect fit for our household. I have since found that she certainly has quite the "quirky" personality of her own. She is wary of strangers and loud noises. She is very smart and quick to learn so without the right outlet, she can certainly get herself into trouble. Now two years old, she has come a long way, but will continually be "in training". She loves all dogs and listens well when properly directed, though, so I enjoy her challenge!
Gus and George: Our pet therapy goats. Often going to nursing homes, they have been a fun, rewarding addition to our family! They know quite a few tricks as well and love to chase us around the yard, wagging their tails. See the video portion of this website to watch them in action
Milo: Unaware that he is actually a cat, he fits in just like one of the dogs. Often found cuddling with the dogs, Milo is about 5 years old and is about as cool as they come.
Our latest addition, our 2-legged child, Julia. Born in April of 2012, she has changed my world! She's happy, easy going, smiley, engaged, smart, and keeps me on my toes! Since having her, I have had to cut back my training hours a bit as I really want to be home to raise her as much as I can while she's so young. The time goes by far too quickly!
Finally, I have a wonderful, supportive husband whom I met during my Junior year of college and married in November of 2012
That's just a little about myself, my personal and professional experiences, and my background. Please don't hesitate to ask any questions
Certifications and Qualifications:
AAS from UNH 2005: Associate's Degree in Applied Animal Science: Small Animal Care
BA from UNH 2007: Bachelor's Degree in Psychology
CPDT-KA: Certified Pet Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed
CGC Evaluator: Canine Good Citizen Evaluator
C.L.A.S.S. Evaluator: Canine Life and Social Skills, through AKC
APDT Full Member: Association of Professional Dog Trainers
Veterinary Technician and Behavior Consultant at Animal Health Center
Board member for Canine Guardians for Life
Previously a board member for the Rochester NH Dog Park