Meet The Team

Rebecca & CerberusRebecca, 26, Michigan-by-way-of-Australia
Cerberus, 3, American Bulldog

Rebecca is a 26-year old graduate student (Criminal Justice, Public Health) currently living in Lansing, Michigan. She enjoys reading, writing, photography and competing in UKC events with her American Bulldog, Cerberus. Together, Rebecca and Cerberus train and compete in conformation, weight pull, and rally obedience. Cerberus is a DINOS (Dog In Need Of Space), which adds new challenges to any activity! (… More).


Dom & Herbie
Dom, 28, New Jersey
Herbie, 4, Pit Bull (and maybe Pointer)
Julio, 2, Pit Bull/Lab/Rottweiler

Dom is a free-lance horse trainer in rural New Jersey. She started life surrounded by German Shepherds in the mountains of Poland and was ready for a dog long before Herbie dropped into her life. Dom spends a lot of time on the road, meeting people, dogs, and other animals, with Herbie at her side. The two of them go hiking, swimming, and trail riding, and Herbie serves as an ambassador for bully breeds, fostering everything from kittens to bunnies, and turning judgmental stares into smiles everywhere she goes. In July 2013, Dom’s neighbor saw a big black dog get  dumped out of a van at a local boat launch, and Julio joined the family. (… More).

Michelle, New York
Dahlia, 9, Border Collie/Golden Retriever mix
Ben, 2, Border Collie mix

Michelle is a part time music instructor currently living in central New York. Her main interest in life, besides music (both Classical and Irish traditional) is her dogs, Dahlia and Ben. Dahlia, a rescue dog who came into Michelle’s life in 2008, has her CGC (Canine Good citizen) certificate and together they compete in CPE agility. Ben is new to Michelle’s life, adopted in June 2015 from Glen Highland Farm. Michelle is also a hobby canine photographer with an eye toward becoming semi-professional someday. (… More).

Lindsay, 29, Detroit, MI
Jax, 2, American Pit Bull Terrier

Lindsay has been involved in American Pit Bull Terriers since 2008. Her first dog helped her to get involved in dog sports – Obedience, Rally Obedience, Weight Pull, and Agility. He also helped her to get involved in other aspects of the dog world. Her second APBT, Jax, joined the family in 2011, and introduced her to the world of conformation. Currently, Jax has earned 7 titles, including his Grand (show) Champion, first level Rally Obedience, United Weight Puller, and CGC. Jax and his Junior Handler, Megan, have also won multiple Best Junior Handler in Show awards. Lindsay is on a journey with Jax to achieve the recognition of UKC’s Super Dog.

Katie, 34, Pennsylvania
Luce, 9, American Pit Bull Terrier
Mushroom, 9, American Pit Bull Terrier
Steve, 3, Border Collie
Bean, baby Border Collie

Katie got her start in dog training when she adopted a reactive, dog-aggressive young pit bull from the city shelter. In the effort to turn that dog into a model citizen, she got bitten by the dog sport bug, and now resides with four dogs who have participated in a variety of sports ranging from flyball to traditional obedience to professional couch-holding-down. In her spare time, she also enjoys reading, photography, and hiking.

Merissa, 37, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP, Central Virginia
Twinkie, Luke, Annie, Poundcake, Smooch, Chewie, Cherry

Merissa breeds and shows American Staffordshire Terriers, competing in AKC conformation, as well as rally and obedience. Dogs have always been a part of Merissa’s life. Her aunt is a breeder and exhibitor of Cairn Terriers. When Merissa was a child, her aunt would take her to dog shows to watch and learn. Merissa developed an eye for structure and movement, and a love for terriers. Merissa has bred and owned several champion amstaffs, and competed at such venues as The Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York City and the Eukanuba National Championship Invitational.

Merissa has long believed that a well-balanced dog has a title at both ends of his name, and uses this belief as an excuse to try just about any activity that looks remotely fun with her dogs. This year, she is attending seminars in dock diving, tracking, and musical freestyle. It helps that she is a trainer and the training coordinator at a premier dog resort and training facility near her home. She is a CPDT-KA, an APDT member, and an AKC CGC evaluator.  She is also a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner, and believes that well-balanced dogs come from not-so-”balanced” trainers.

Outside of dogs, Merissa spends the majority of her time with her three horses – Dash, her retired off the track thoroughbred, Roxy, her husband’s quarter horse mare, and Task, her feisty young arabian.

Sarah Stevens, CNWI, 25, Bay Area, CA
sarahandowen Frankie, Jack Russell mix
Owen, Cardigan Welsh Corgi

River, Australian Cattle Dog
Sarah is a Certified Nose Work Instructor and has thoroughly enjoyed working in this new sport to help her oldest dog (and many others!) overcome behavioral issues. Her main goal in training has always been to facilitate understanding and security to dogs in their environment; having fun with them is the bonus! In addition to nose work, she is also a professional dog trainer and APDT member.

Frankie is a former feral puppy who came to Sarah with extreme human shyness and dog aggression along with several health issues. Over the years he has made huge improvements thanks to methods like Behavior Adjustment Training and Control Unleashed. Nose Work has been his savior and he can trick almost anyone into thinking he is a “normal” dog now! When he isn’t searching, Frank can be found snoozing on the couch.

Owen is a mushy sweet boy who was a conformation show failure – he was bored by that stuff and wanted to do more! So Sarah picked him up at 7 months old; it was love at first sight and he is definitely a momma’s boy. Owen is a truly nice dog and hasn’t met too many people or dogs that he doesn’t like. He is regularly used as a neutral dog for Sarah’s business and tries his best to be a good boy, even though he tends to love “talking” a lot! He also makes one heck of a trail dog and cuddle buddy. He has dabbled in several different sports but enjoys nose work and rally-o the most.

River was adopted from the same shelter as Widget and was definitely not planned for! Sarah calls her the official Cardigan Nationals Souvenir, since she just happened to be looking around Kelsey’s shelter with no intentions of adopting while visiting Arizona for nationals with Owen. “Maxie” was 14 weeks old and already a monster, just like a good ACD should be! The decision to take her home took about 5 seconds after Sarah saw how focused and driven the little puppy was. Riv is dog reactive, high energy, high drive, and completely crazy… otherwise known as Sarah’s perfect companion. She is still just a baby but is already rocking nose work and agility.

Sarah runs her own dog training business in California, Nosey Dog Treks and Training, and attends many classes with her own dogs every week (as well as teaching, of course!). You can often find her at trials or attending continuing education on the weekends. Besides their busy sports and training schedule, Sarah and her three dogs also love hiking the beautiful Bay Area parks.

Kelsey, 36, middle-of-nowhere Utah

Lucy, 7ish, North American Muppet Dog

Nellie, 4, American Pit Bull Terrier/Lab x

Widget, 2, Australian Cattle Dog x Jack Russell

Nimbus, baby rez dog (he’s probably one dash of everything)

Kelsey used to be university professor, a profession that allowed her to spend her summers being a full-time dog nerd and gave her practice being extremely bossy. She recently threw over grading papers and teaching teenagers about Motown for full-time work at an animal sanctuary, where she has discovered that dogs are often much better listeners than college students.

Kelsey’s Big Girls (Lucy and Nellie) were adopted as adults from underfunded, overcrowded city shelters, and both were Dogs With Issues in their own ways. Lucy, her first dog, was a cautionary tale for why it is important to properly socialize your puppy, and the (long, still ongoing) process of getting her over her issues got Kelsey excited about the theory and practice of dog training. Lucy is now an awesome hiking and swimming buddy who competes in agility and is about to begin a midlife career as a rally dog, but most importantly, she no longer has panic attacks around other dogs and garbage trucks. Nellie the Tripod Wonderpuppy was initially going to be a short-term foster (she was a shelter dog who needed a place to recover after her leg was amputated due to a bunch of terrible negligence by her first family); obviously, she never left, and she’s transitioned from a shy, scared, quiet dog into the happiest dog you’ve ever met (seriously, everyone who’s met her will vouch for that!) She got her CGC less than a year after coming to live with me, and now she’s training to compete in flyball (being three-legged=a hell of a box turn!), has passed several rounds of Tricks Levels and is also a rally dog-in-training. One of her favorite things is participating in the Paws to Read program through the local library, where little kids with reading challenges read her stories out loud while she sprawls across their laps and licks their noses to encourage them.

After telling everyone she knew (loudly!) that nobody should ever have more dogs than hands, in a moment of insanity, Kelsey adopted Widget from the shelter where she was volunteering, and now she is an official hypocrite, not having three hands. Widget (at the time of this writing) is an two year old crazy little cattlejack, who is already playing around in herding, rally, agility and flyball.  She is hilarious and terrible and adorable and beloved by everyone except the cats.  The newest addition to the menagerie is baby Nimbus, born at the sanctuary where Kelsey works after his mom was brought in from the Navajo reservation in Shiprock, NM.  Like a lot of rez dogs, Nimbus is very shy with new people, sweet as pie when you get to know him, a big thinker and an introvert, very different from his crazy terrier sisters. He’s a really wonderful little dude.

Because of work, Kelsey moves around a lot (ask her if you need advice about dog-friendly hotels on I-80!), but for the moment, she, her dogs, and her two cats live in southern Utah, where they spend their time hiking, attempting to take pictures of interesting wildlife, scouting out places to kayak and avoiding murderous cacti.

Danielle, PennsylvaniaIMG_3172
Ein, Corgi/Pomeranian Mix
Molly, Pit Bull
Perri, Standard Poodle

Danielle works as an x-ray technologist in an Eastern PA hospital. She is a passionate, bordering on obsessive, hiker with goals to visit all 120 Pennsylvania State Parks, and to hike the length of the PA Appalachian Trail.  Her dog-related focus is rally and traditional obedience, agility, therapy work and rescue.

Her three dogs are an eclectic mix that somehow blend together into a neat little pack.
Ein is an ex puppy mill corgi, trail dog extraordinaire, “Mr. Law and Order” to you and worships the very ground that Danielle walks on.
Molly is an ex stray pitbull who was found roaming the streets of Lancaster city, PA at two months old with her brother.  The sibling dogs were adopted together by a family, Molly was later returned to the shelter and then adopted by Danielle.  She peed on the floor while her adoption contract was being filled out and has been moving at 200mph through Danielle’s life and heart since that day.
Perri the poodle was found listed on Craigslist for the crime of chicken killing on the farm where she used to live.  She is solemn yet silly, a deep thinker and the lamb to Molly’s lion.

Jennifer, 32, Pennsylvania
Pongu the Insane, GSD Mix

Crookytail the Tigerwuff, Akita Mix

Jennifer is a prosecutor for the City of Philadelphia, currently specializing in federal habeas litigation. On the side (and under a fake name), she writes tie-in fantasy novels for various gaming properties, which is why Crookytail gets to be a canonical character in a video game universe. She also fosters a steady stream of rescue dogs and competes with her own mutt monsters in Rally, traditional obedience, Trick Dog, and maybe agility in the semi-distant future.

Pongu, who is formally ARCHEX TDCH Pongu the Insane, CD-C, RL1X4, RL2X3, RL3X (today, that is; his alphabet soup tends to change every few months) is her first dog. He is a severely, genetically fearful basketcase… but he’s smart and he works real hard, and he has become an accidental poster child for what it’s possible to accomplish with a fearful dog.

Crookytail is a genial doofus who loves training, is absolutely brilliant at playing guidance counselor to foster dogs… and routinely fails at everything ever in the competition ring. If he were a person, he’d be 25 and still in eighth grade. That part, unlike Pongu’s title tally, will never change. Oh well.

Raiden 045Lindsey, 28, Neunkirchen am Potzberg, Germany
Raiden, German Shepherd
Tiki, Longhaired German Shepherd
Dierdre, Yellow Labrador

Lindsey is a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA), with a master’s degree in applied behavior. By day she works with children with severe intellectual disabilities, working on implementing behavior modification plans for children with aggression and severe self-injury. By night she puts those skills toward dog activities. Lindsey’s love of dogs started at 10 years old, when she finally got her wish of a dog- a Dalmatian named Chili Pepper. Together they started in junior handling, competitive obedience, agility, and therapy dog work. At 15 she began teaching obedience classes, and apprenticed to a professional conformation handler, showing Dobermans in conformation around the western United States and at such venues as the Eukanuba Cup, later getting into UKC and German Sieger-style conformation. At 17, she finally convinced her mother to allow her to raise guide dog puppies for the Guide Dogs for the Blind school in San Rafael, California, and raised 5 puppies (3 graduated as guides) before moving out of state to finish college. For her 18th birthday, she rescued her first German Shepherd and signed up to learn how to become a search and rescue handler. Working with the California Rescue Dog Association, Lindsey learned how to train air scent dogs, eventually moving on, after the death of her first search dog, to human remains/cadaver detection, scent tracking, and tracking in drive with the Hardin County Bloodhound Search and Rescue in Kentucky, and Travis County Search & Rescue in Texas (although training an avalanche search dog remains on her bucket list, it’s probably not something that will happen soon in sunny, flat, South Florida!) Not enough to satisfy the love of all things dog, Lindsey began competing in schutzhund and AKC-style herding as well as working with German Shepherd and Dalmatian rescue as a foster home/transport driver, and upon moving to Florida, began raising guide dog puppies again, this time for Southeastern Guide Dogs.

Raiden, while an excellent search dog and schutzhund dog, is a DINOS (dog-in-need-of-space) who prefers that all other dogs in life ignore him. Weighing in at 110 pounds, his tall, lanky frame garnered him the nickname ‘great dane’ at the schutzhund club, and he prefers to think of cats as his sworn mortal enemies.

Tiki, while Raiden’s niece, is as different from him as night and day. She is small at just 60 pounds, soft, sweet, gentle, and thinks all cats and small animals (including ‘her’ guinea pig, Oliver) are to be nuzzled, cuddled, and nurtured. The only exception to that rule are sheep, which Tiki feels must be gathered so that she may dive into the flock to break them apart, only to gather them up again.

Deirdre is a career-changed guide dog puppy, failed for being a scaredy-dog, now enjoys the spoiled life of hogging the bed and plans on doing agility in her future.

5 thoughts on “Meet The Team

  1. Fabulous blog. I am the secretary of CTAH a local non profit dedicated to ending euthanasia of adoptable dogs by providing support to CT pound animals so that each one has the best chance at adoption. So many of the dogs we get are bully breeds and it is great to see your team and their ambassadors. Friend us at ct-animalhouse-inc where we post all our adoptables and crossposts from other shelters/pounds in CT.

  2. So glad to see someone working with the CT shelters, Marilyn!

    Not all of our dogs are bullies, but we’re a bunch of bully lovers across the board for sure. So glad to have you along (and you too, Allison! Welcome!)

  3. What a cool blog!! I love all the stories! Both my kids are adopted from different rescue groups, we’re just now getting our girl into agility – she has been a work in progess and had some MAJOR fear aggression towards other dogs when we first adopted her (except she immediately fell in love with our boy Dante never any problems with him). Through lots of confidence building, positive training, and patience she is now a success and has just started doggy daycare with Dante twice a week to continue in her growth and she LOVES IT!
    Thanks for posting all your wonderful stories! Someday we hope to be further along in our canine sports like you guys!

    ~DZ Dog Mom

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