Location: Amherst, Massachusetts
Animals: yellow labrador retriever dog guide
Specialty: building the bond and 2-way communication
Bio: I embarked on a new path in life when last July I flew across country to attend a 2 day seminar with Kayce, who I had been highly interested in working with for several years. I attended certification training camp last September and became Lay Level 1 certified.
I have experienced a severe progressive vision loss over the last 35 years due to Retinitis Pigmentosa and have worked with dog guides since 1989. Though hard work when first home with a new dog, almost each and every step I have taken in all these years with my dogs has been filled with confidence, the assurance of safety, the joy of increased mobility and with the sheer pleasure and intoxication of being in motion. I adore my dogs, and it is for them that I live!
Since receiving my first dog guide, I made it my business to read up on much of the best known and credited material on canine learning and behavior, and at this point, due to my study and practice of SATS, I am well versed in the many ins and outs of “how to train.”
My interest in dog training includes the training of dog guides as well as service dogs that work with mobility impaired and persons with multiple disabilities. As I myself age (I am fifty years old,) I easily foresee the need for dog guide training to include additional skills in order to aid with hearing loss, poor balance, medical alert, retrieving, and a whole host of other tasks that can significantly enhance the quality of life for many visually impaired and individuals with multiple disabilities.
Through continued attendance at seminars, where I am the only blind trainer present, I have made connections within professional circles that have spurred me on to strive for a higher degree of accomplishment, not just for my particular needs and fancy, but within the profession at large. When trainers known all over the world stand up in front of a crowd of all sighted trainers and tell the group that I am a very good trainer with a very lovely dog, or tell trainers in England that I made the second highest grade on the certification test relying on memory and no device for note taking over a period of five days, I feel like I am surely on my way to success. To be so highly respected by trainers who have been working in the field for over 30 years in contrast to my 1-year of concentrated study, I feel encouraged and honored.
At this point in my life, my passion and dedication is focused entirely on continuing to find opportunities to do hands-on training work with dogs in addition to my own. As of now, I have little experience working with any dogs other than my own guide dog that I have successfully taught many additional tasks since receiving her almost three years ago. My immediate goal is to fine tune many a training scenario as well as work with rough cut untrained dogs who I will be responsible for turning into well adapted animals within a home as well as out in public – the latter point is an area of intense interest to me given how common it is to find out-of-control dogs in the home as well as on city streets. I would like to “socialize” a dog for a guide dog school or for a Service Dog organization.
I would also like to make myself available to other guide dog handlers who know nothing about training and who fall short of being the best team that they can possibly be with their existing dog.
From part-time work as a massage therapist (body sculptor) and art and accessibility consultant, coming to SATS has allowed me to develop another passion. SATS has made it possible for me to move into a fully loved and credentialed new career as a dog trainer and redeemed me from the half-realized potential that existed within me all along. It has also brought me into a community of animal lovers promoting the highest order of 2 way communication amongst a variety of species, “synergistic alliances,” that are strong enough to save my sanity, if not that of the world’s at large.
Credentials: Lay Level 1 SATS