I came to training as just another dog owner in 2005, when my husband and I adopted Pigeon, a timid seven-month-old shepherd mix whose fear and anxiety would soon blossom into aggression. She was my first teacher, and remains my best.
Soon after I found PIgeon (left), I was lucky enough to find Laura Monaco Torelli at Animal Behavior Training Concepts—where by 2009 I was apprenticing as a trainer. In addition to running my own business, I served as a senior trainer and training manager for hers from 2011 until mid-2018, when I left in preparation for pursuing a master's degree in applied behavioral science through the University of Kansas.
I graduated from the Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior in February 2011, becoming a Certified Training Partner (KPA CTP), and in all subsequent years have earned the "client endorsed" distinction through KPA's Assurance, Commitment, and Education program, a system for ensuring that members continue to meet the organization's high standards for force-free training. (You can read what clients have said about their training experience, on the survey and otherwise, on the Testimonials page.)
I am also a Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), and am on the recommended trainers' list for both local veterinary behavior practices: Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants and Insight Animal Behavior Behavior Services.
Dog training opened a window into the broader world of behavior science, specifically applied behavior analysis, and since 2014 I have worked under Dr. Susan Friedman at Behavior Works, becoming a teaching assistant for her Living and Learning With Animals course for animal behavior professionals and the functional analysis module she teaches for the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants' flagship Principles & Practice course. Her mentorship is in large part what has inspired me to pursue higher education in the field.
I have also earned primary-level certification in TAGteach in order to better help humans help their dogs.
I volunteered at PAWS Chicago and Chicago Animal Care and Control weekly for more than three years as an adoption counselor, dog walker, Meet Your Match evaluator, and (at CACC) trainer. I currently partner with foster-based rescue One Tail at a Time to make discounted behavioral help available to foster families and new adopters.
Finally, I'm also a former journalist and editor who has worked for Outside, Chicago, and the Chicago Reader, among other publications, and am available for select writing and editing projects related to dog training and behavior.
I am happy to provide proof of licensing and insurance on request.