Dogs and horses have always been a vital part of my life. This came from my Dad, but it quickly became “me”. I never thought I could work professionally with animals, however. My career ended up being in adult education, then corporate training. I worked with police departments, government agencies and information technology companies. In the 1990’s my husband and I started a small training firm and I had to learn how to be a small business owner. In 2008 with slow economy and I daughter in college, I was happy when a friend offered me a part-time job at a Banfield Pet Hospital. I promised her 6 months and was there for 2 years. I started wondering if there was a dog-related business I could do. Whenever clients came in with a puppy, I would ask them how house training was going and offer suggestions. The doctors started coming to me saying, “Go in room 3 and talk to those people about their dog’s behavior.” One day I looked at a young doctor and said, “You know, I’m the receptionist…….” He immediately said, “You know way more about animal behavior that I do.” So the penny dropped and I spent the next months immersing myself and studying. I walked dogs at the local shelter, read so many books, watched videos and attended the 2010 APDT conference in Atlanta. Seven months later I started with my first clients doing individual training and coaching, The people part of the work was quite familiar! Linda Tilley mentored me and was superb help during the first years (and today). After a few years, she started talking to me about NADOI. Then she started nagging me and I am so glad she did!!
I started teaching in 1986 after having taken a couple of classes from the local instructor who was retiring. I hated trying to groom the dogs that were so unruly because their owners didn’t know any better or knew that they could be trained. My philosophy was: At least I know more than the beginner students do. I was also taking classes at a club 80 miles away so I could further my education and training skills. I got into showing in obedience and was hooked. I joined NADOI ca. 1994 and am still continuing on.
I started teaching in about 1976 after being an assistant instructor in Corpus Christi Texas Obedience Club. After moving to Florida in 1977, I became involved with the group there and was one of the founding members of the Greater Orange Park Dog Club. I taught for the club for several years and started with my own group (with 3 other instructors) to form HeadStart Dog Training. When moving to North Carolina in 2000, I continued to teach classes until 2017 when I retired. During that time I attended a lot of seminars and workshops to further my training skills. From 1974 until 2002, trained and titled 1 poodle and many golden retrievers in obedience and conformation.
I had just given birth to my second child, and like so many pet people, I did the logical thing (not) and went out and got a puppy about the same time. This dog was a lively rough collie. didn’t have my property fenced. And I had this new baby. Yes, I was SO smart! Thankfully, I found a training club and started in the classes, assisting, then teaching on my own and working toward titles. I did pretty well, and discovered I really liked working to help people with their dogs. This was about 1975. Sometime in the next few years, my mentor at the training club went to a seminar I think in New Jersey, and brought home some brochures about this organization for dog obedience instructors, our very own NADOI. She didn’t follow up, but I was very excited and thought I would try for the instructor “endorsement.” I was accepted and will never forget how thrilled I was! This was about 1980-1981 or so. My certificate is framed and on my office wall, but has no date. It is the old “shield” logo. Joyce Bradley signed it as rec-sec. I stayed at the training club for about 8 years, then started out on my own. I wanted to do more problem-solving in addition to classes, so Canine Counselors got off to a good start. I have run classes everywhere from an old Army barracks, to rec centers, to parks, tennis courts, and parking lots, to private businesses like pet stores, veterinarian hospitals, and kennels. Maybe the most unique site was the stage of a big outdoor amphitheater (we always say that this is part art and part science, so that site was great for the art!). For a short while I had my own building, but never could seem to support it financially. Back in those days, we didn’t charge for our services like we can now. Now retired, I can look back over the years and see so many changes to this business, and yes, it really is a business now. NADOI has been instrumental in my development and success as an instructor, and it is an honor for me to assist our org in any small way. I hope NADOI will always be there for the aspiring instructors of the future.
Well it all started in 2006 with a particularity rotten Siberian Husky puppy. Resource guarding, alpha wannabe little pup (later of course, the love of my life). Was like living with “White Fang”. Many tears were shed in the first year of ownership along with frequent epic battles till one day I decided the only way to deal with him was to learn how to train dogs myself. I applied to an intensive volunteer program at a local shelter that was training volunteers to work with shelter dogs and teach group classes. I went through the eight week hands on program, loved it and excelled; particularly drawn to group class instruction. I taught and assisted with group classes there for a little over a year. Later on, I was approached to do private lessons (which I happily did for almost nothing) with a local rescue and to serve as a part time behavior consultant. In spring of 2008 I was referred to the owners of a large local dog daycare and training facility who hired me to be daycare manager and head trainer. That’s where I really got to know dogs, working with large groups of different breeds. I continued to offer basic obedience group class and private lessons and later board and train. Was offered a partnership in the business and eventually became sole owner/ operator in 2010. I sold the business and downsized, only offering private lessons in 2013. In 2016 I got up the courage to apply to NADOI. For me NADOI had always loomed large on the horizon, a milestone personal goal. An organization filled with the very best trainers and instructors nationwide. I was so thrilled and honored to be accepted, particularly as a pet dog trainer and a relatively green one. Now to have the opportunity to serve and work closely with long term members whom I admire, well, it’s just wonderful.
I was taking riding lessons and hoping to start to show saddle seat. “Stumbled” in on a Collie Specialty that had obedience and I saw Utility. Came home and told my husband I wanted a purebred dog to train and compete with. He thought that was pretty good and had to be less expensive than horses. Got my first purebred Lab and started with former NADOI member Jack Papp and his wife Sally. After getting one or two obedience titles Jack asked if I would like to assist and then later instruct. I was hooked. Had some time when my husband was laid off and things were tight that I could not teach since I had to go back to work full time. Then when things settled down I got my third Lab that I trained and competed with. When Jack and Sally decided to retire, they asked me if I wanted to buy the business. I told him no three times but my husband decided it would be a good fit for me. And so not only do I instruct but own the business. Who would have thought when I stumbled in on that Specialty and saw Utility where I would end up.
My story, the short version:
- Read Kurt Unkelbach’s “Love on a Leash” when I was in elementary school.
- Read Jean Fritz’ “Champion Dog, Prince Tom” when I was in jr high.
- Found Blanche Saunders’ “Training You to Train Your Dog” in the library when I was in high school and trained the family springer from the book.
- Got married, bought a house, bought a sheltie puppy, took him to class and earned a UD.
- Moved, joined Capital Dog Training Club of Washington DC and got dragged, kicking and screaming, to teach a basic class.
The rest is history.
My life with dogs started when I was born. My parents had Basenjis and German Shorthaired Pointers. I was blessed to spend time with my Dad when he trained, and worked, his Pointers. I was able to work with his dogs and realized how much I loved teaching, and learning from, them!
Life went in other directions, but I always had dogs in my life. About 20 years ago, I had the privilege of helping two of the best dog and people educators I have ever met. Since I was recently retired from the business world, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. The rest is history. I worked at our local Humane Society with my mentors for about 10 years. We did puppy, adult, intro to Agility and RallyO classes. I was especially drawn to Tricks and started a class which I am still doing. I am an instructor for Intermountain Therapy Animals. My GSP, Juliet Rose, and I visit local retirement facilities, hospitals and nursing homes. We recently had the honor of visiting with the thousands of CARR firefighters at the staging area here in Northern Calif. Being able to bring some “pup time” to these heroes was a privilege. I also do GSP Rescue and have accepted that I am a total failure as a foster parent! If one is at our house for more than a few days, they’re home!
The beginnings of the Chaney saga…first dog ( female Rottweiler puppy ), first child almost 2 and 2nd due in 2 months. Training began the name of the game. Believe it or not, Karen Pryor’s book, “The Art of Breastfeeding,” was my first training book. Raising a toddler, baby, and a puppy all applied. No fencing on our acre, puppy Caren knew every inch as we exercised her on long tracking line. Of course, it was a learning curve of experiences both learning from mistakes and making wise decisions.
I started to teach under the direction of Dick Russell in 1990. I was recommended as a member of NADOI by Dick Russell in 1995. “Becoming a brilliant trainer is not about possessing inherent talent. It is about making yourself a vulnerable student, and proper practice every day, including the days you don’t want to practice.”
I started doing private lessons in people’s homes in 1983, moved up to teaching classes to people in the park and other “free spaces” around 1992. I was hired as a trainer for a large boarding and training operation in 1998. I transitioned to renting a 6000 sq foot space in 2006, and finally purchased my own 8000 sq foot building in 2015.It has been an amazing journey, with a lot of luck, blessings, and help from many wonderful people along the way! I can not imagine doing anything but this.
Many thanks to NADOI for being a supportive part of that journey, and for the advice, and friendships I have been able to make with its members along the way.
I had 3 dogs all about 55 pounds. One of them (my Doggie Manners mascot) looked like Sandy from “Annie” and got a part in a school production of “Annie.” Through a remarkable set of circumstances stemming from that appearance, the Los Angeles Music Center called me to supply a dog for the opera “The Girl of the Golden West” starring Placido Domingo. So one of my dogs was in that opera and was mentioned in both the Los Angeles Times and Dramalogue!
After that, people assumed I knew what I was doing and started asking me for advice about training. I was working as a court reporter at the time and wanted to do something else where I could walk and talk. When the Universe speaks, I listen. I studied about dog behavior and training, and within a short period, I became a dog trainer.
Just a P.S. to the opera story. A year or so later, they needed a bloodhound for an opera whose name I have forgotten, but it took place in Victorian England. It was the final dress rehearsal and there was a lot of tension. The director wanted to change something, so I had to wait with the bloodhound offstage longer than usual. I finally handed the dog off to the actor, and all they had to do was just walk across the stage. But the bloodhound had other ideas. He stopped and lifted his leg on the period costume of one of the actors. I was mortified, but everyone got a huge laugh and it broke the tension. Funny, though, I wasn’t invited back after that…
So, in 1972 my former mother-in-law got an American Eskimo puppy, I got it’s brother for my 5 year old son, she took her puppy to obedience school so I did, too. There I saw real live trained dogs that went to dog shows and earned titles. I learned that to teach your dog to come when called you put him on a sit/stay, went to the end of the leash and called him, then he was to sit front. My Eskie was a bolter, which ended up being the death of him. Fast forward to 1976 – new dog; the ugliest sheltie I’ve ever seen (I thought she was beautiful). I knew exactly what I was going to do this time. I called the same instructor I had before and told her I was going to be a dog show judge. To her credit, she didn’t laugh or try to tell me how outrageous that comment was. I learned that soon enough! She retired from teaching soon after, but by then I had found the local newly formed dog training club. In 1978 I helped teach a class for the first time. The rest is history. And, yes, I did become an obedience judge!
In the mid 80s we were stationed in Leavenworth and I had a young Bichon I had already obedience trained but wanted to improve from where we were. I met Pam Wolf, a NADOI instructor and took her class and then mentored under her. She also introduced me to herding. From there I got a Rough Collie and we did herding, therapy certification and obedience. Her head didn’t turn out so we didn’t do conformation. That led me into Papillons and conformation but I continued to do obedience classes on the side because I so enjoyed training and helping people and dogs. Long story short and several states later, now I train Service dogs for Veterans, Active Duty Soldiers and First Responders as well as some civilians. And I still teach ‘pet’ classes and all the CGC classes.
MY NEIGHBOR told me, “One of THE BEST DOG TRAINERS on the East Coast lives just 30 minutes away. You should consider training Sugar to be a hunting dog instead of just a pet. However, this trainer is OLD & GRUMPY, but she knows dog training. I can take you to meet her if you like?” I had NO idea what would come out of meeting Margot Woods, owner of Applewoods Dog Training, LLC., NADOI #368, way back in January of 2010. Margot was indeed OLD & GRUMPY as she was always in pain. I started training 10 week old Sugar, along with his littermates, doing the AKC S.T.A.R Puppy Program and Margot’s Puppy Program. (Click to read all of Roxanne’s story of her journey to become a dog trainer.)