Our Professional Dog Trainers


Sara with Dobby

Sara Reusche, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KSA, CVT, AKC CGC Evaluator, APDT CLASS Evaluator purchased Paws Abilities in 2010. She has turned her love of animals and teaching into a career and is dual certified as a veterinary technician and professional dog trainer. In addition to training, Sara has worked as a groomer, vet tech, dog daycare attendant, and animal shelter caretaker and trainer. She currently spends the majority of her time working with serious behavior cases and has a special fondness for reactive and anxious dogs.

Sara’s blog posts generate thousands of visitors from all over the world. She has contributed to the APDT Chronicle of the Dog and was the 2008 John Fisher Scholarship award winner for her article “Lessons from Layla.”

Sara lives with two mixed breed dogs, Pantalaimon and Trout. Sara’s dogs have competed in agility, rally obedience, lure coursing, canine freestyle, and k9 nose work. Sara frequently fosters dogs for rescue organizations as well. When she’s not working with dogs, Sara enjoys reading, dancing, and staying up too late.

See Sara’s client reviews here.


Patti with Ballad and Charlie

Patti Anderson CPDT-KA, Pet Partners Evaluator and National Program Educator, R.E.A.D. Instructor & TTouch® Practitioner grew up in Plymouth, a west suburb of the Twin Cities.  She lived out in Washington State for a number of years but moved back to Plymouth over twenty years ago. She was a competitive sprint musher on the I.S.D.R.A. circuit for eight years while out west with a team of Siberian huskies.  Patti and her husband currently reside with four dogs (2 Siberians, 2 terriers) a rabbit, and four guinea pigs.  The animals all have been, or are currently registered therapy animals with the national Pet Partners organization.  The animals are kept busy visiting at hospitals, nursing homes, libraries, and schools. Patti was a school counselor for over twenty years.  The first therapy dog she had was sixteen years ago (a Siberian of course!) and went to school with her as a “canine counselor”.  The impact on the students of having a therapy dog at school was amazing and it hooked Patti on animal assisted therapy for years to come. She diversified to several other species eventually so those allergic, afraid of dogs, etc., could experience interacting with a therapy animal.

Over the past five years, Patti has been involved with a team of people, including staff from Paws Abilities, with the Caring Canines program at Mayo Clinic.  Today the Caring Canines program has a full time director,  over twenty teams (handlers and their registered therapy dogs) that visit there, and are setting the standards for the other Mayo locations across the country!

Patti offers animal assisted therapy with her own animals at various counseling programs in the Twin Cities.  She also co-teaches an “Animal Assisted Therapy” course in the psychology department at Saint Mary’s University in Minneapolis.  She is currently trying to learn Swedish via CD’s as she drives around town, but that is a definite work in progress!

See Patti’s client reviews here.

Linda with Tank

Linda with Tank

Linda Blanchard CPDT-KA, AKC CGC Evaluator has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and worked with developmentally disabled adults for 10 years. She is currently working for the US Postal Service as a letter carrier, is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, and has been a member of the Rochester Dog Obedience Club since 1995. While a member of the Rochester Dog Obedience Club she served as an Instructor, Board member, Vice President, President, and was Training Director in 2004 and 2005. She joined the Paws Abilities training staff in 2007, has an extensive library of dog behavior, training, and health books, and attends seminars whenever possible.

Linda currently has one dog. Tank, a Wirehaired Carolina Schnauzer Mix (a mutt) competes in Rally Obedience and loves taking training classes of all kinds.

See Linda’s client reviews here.

Julia with Nugget and Penny

Julia Breza CPDT-KA, CNWI, AKC CGC Evaluator has always loved animals. She became interested in dog training after taking classes through Paws Abilities. She has an undergraduate degree in special education and a masters degree in counselor education. She currently works as a teacher with the Rochester Public Schools. Julia has a special interest in K9 Nose Work and is currently working on certification to be a Certified Nose Work Instructor. Julia also does field training with service dogs through Can Do Canines.

Julia currently has two dogs. Penny is a fun loving boxer who enjoys camping, doggie daycare, Nose Work, Barn Hunt, and tricks classes. Nugget is a devoted German Shorthaired Pointer who enjoys exploring in the field, Nose Work, daycare, and relaxing in his chair after a long day.

Julia is recognized as a Certified Nose Work Instructor by the National Association of Canine Scent Work.

See Julia’s client reviews here.


Carrie with Diesel

Carrie Davis CPDT-KA grew up in Mankato and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She was amazed at the human-animal bond she gained from her relationship with her first dog, Cannon. Not long after bringing home Cannon, she adopted Diesel from Aussie Rescue. Cannon gave her the joy and motivation to learn more, but it was Diesel’s behavior problems that brought her to dog training after years as an Interior Designer and working as a Veterinary Assistant. Carrie spends her time learning from the experts in canine behavior by attending local and national seminars, reading books, watching dvds and webinars, and taking classes with her own dogs. Carrie is a professional member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and supporting member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Her passion is education. She loves empowering people to live safe, fulfilling lives with their dogs by teaching manners or helping with more intense issues like fear, anxiety, and reactivity.  To see a happy dog and owner working together is the most rewarding feeling.

Her days are spent enjoying her current dogs, Australian Shepherds, Diesel and Ryder,and a senior cat, Trixie.  Carrie and her husband Patrick love to hike in the woods, camp, and spend time with nature whenever possible.

Carrie has earned official certification as a CPDT-KA through the nationally recognized Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.

See Carrie’s client reviews here.

lauren engle_web

Lauren with Mooky

Lauren Engle grew up all over Minnesota, from the Twin Cities to the middle of nowhere. She has always loved animals, and frequently brought home stray dogs and cats as a child. Eight years ago she brought home her own dog Mooky from the humane society. Mooky had proven to be quite challenging for her, and the traditional methods she knew just weren’t cutting it.

Lauren graduated high school with no clue what she wanted to do with her life. One day she looked at her dog and thought “How do I get through to you?”. Shortly after graduating she took a leap of faith and decided to become a professional dog trainer. Soon after, she started a mentorship with a wonderful trainer in her area who introduced her to clicker training. Her and Mooky’s lives changed forever. Since then she has been assisting and teaching her own classes.

Lauren loves learning from many different trainers. She continues to learn through books, videos, and seminars. She has taken the Karen Pryor Academy Dog Trainer Professional course, and has one more test to pass before she is officially certified! Her favorite thing is watching the relationship between dog and human grow through training. Nothing beats that “Ah ha” moment! Lauren wants to go into positive gun dog training in the future, and open a board and train in Minnesota.

She spends her days enjoying the handsome Mooky, her cat, Mr.Kitty, and horse, Titan. In her free time she enjoys doing anything and everything outdoors (with Mooky by her side). Their favorite activities are hiking, camping, and going to the barn!

See Lauren’s client reviews here.

Sarala with Dalton

Sarala with Dalton

Sarala Helmer, CPDT-KSA, AKC CGC Evaluator grew up riding, training, and showing horses and spent many hours hiking and riding with her dogs. She has an undergraduate degree in biology and a masters degreee in psychology. She has worked in the fields of counseling, Ombudsman, social work, and land surveying.

Sarala is a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. She has one dog, Ned, and they enjoy hiking, agility, and training games of all kinds together. She recently lost gentle Dalton (pictured), who lived a happy life. Sarala is convinced that cooperation and communication, not coercion, are the keys to a sustainable future on the planet. She pursues learning from her students, peers, professionals in many fields — and from her dogs — on a daily basis.

See Sarala’s client reviews here.

Carrie with Willow

Carrie with Willow

Carrie Iverson grew up in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, where she spent a lot of time riding horses and hiking in the mountains. Carrie has degrees in Criminal Justice and Medical Administration. She currently works as a Health Unit Coordinator for the Mayo Clinic Health Systems. Carrie’s love of dogs started when she moved to Germany and got her first dog, Kasey, a yellow Lab. Kasey loved to travel the world with Carrie. When Carrie got her Aussie Willow, she became interested in dog training as she realized that Willow needed a job to do.

Carrie is owned by three dogs, two cats, and one kid. Kassidy is a senior black Lab who is enjoying her golden years lying around the house and playing ball in the yard, Willow is a young Australian Shepherd who competes in Rally and Agility, and Bruiser is the newest addition, a young Australian Shepherd who’s learning dog sports and teaching Carrie about working with a deaf dog. Tanner and Sadie are her kitty kids and the lover of her heart and soul is Nick, her very energetic son.

See Carrie’s client reviews here.

Laura with Cruiser, Ruler, Lakota, and Mikko

Laura with Cruiser, Ruler, Lakota, and Mikko

Laura Johnson, AKC CGC Evaluator grew up with dogs and became interested in training after getting her first show dog when she was 10 years old. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and works as a clinical laboratory technologist. Laura also enjoys raising rabbits, fishing, and reading.

Laura currently has four dogs and a cat. Her basenji Ruler is an AKC champion show dog who also has many Rally obedience titles. Cruiser, her little rescued Chihuahua mix loves life, bananas, and playing with his extensive collection of dog toys. Her third dog, Lakota is an American Pit Bull Terrier and is a sports/performance dog in training. Lakota is currently training for and participating in disc dog events. That girl loves her Frisbee! Last, but not least, is Mikko the Brittany Spaniel who enjoys playing disc, swimming, and tennis balls.

Kapp with Geordie

Kapp with Geordi

Kapp Kapter CNWI is retired from 30 years of a career in IT. He worked as an elementary teacher for a few years before that, and had a part in a local comedy theatre in his college and early adult life.  Kapp is now enjoying activities with three Border Collies adopted from the BCRMN. He is now happy to volunteer with Heart of a Border Collie Rescue as needed to transport dogs who are coming into the Minnesota network. He and his wife determined to adopt these “special needs” Border Collies (one blind, one lame, one loud)  as a tribute to the Border Collies who have been part of their family over the years.

Kapp loves spending time with his dogs, especially with Nose Work, and offers moral support to his wife as she endeavors in the management of their talented but challenging Sheltie/Border cross. Kapp is actively discovering the world of all things canine, attending workshops and seminars as well as classes with his dogs.

He is a Certified Nose Work Instructor through the National Association of Canine Scent Work.

See Kapp’s client reviews here.


Shalise with Tori and Dexter

Shalise Keating, CPDT-KA grew up in Rochester riding and training horses. She has over 14 years of experience training dogs, and was Training Director for the Rochester Dog Obedience Club (RDOC) from 1999 through 2001. As Training Director, Shalise was responsible for moving that club from choke collar training to positive reinforcement-based clicker training. She is an avid attendee at conferences and seminars on clicker training. Shalise joined the Paws Abilities training staff in January of 2001 and took over as owner of Paws Abilities Dog Training in January of 2004 to December 2009.

Shalise currently has two dogs, Tori and Quint. They’re both German Shorthaired Pointers who enjoy agility, conformation, and other dog sports. When she’s not training with Paws Abilities, Shalise runs a fabulous boarding kennel, A Dog Spot, in rural Lanesboro, MN.

See Shalise’s client reviews here.


Katie with Minnie and Jasmine

Katie Kelly CPDT-KA, ABCDT is a dual certified trainer. She is recognized through Animal Behavior College as well as the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers. She currently has a Shih Tzu named Minnie, and a pit bull cross named Jasmine. Katie claims that each dog in her life has taught her valuable lessons, and that she continues to learn through the new challenges that she is presented. She fully embraces reward-based methods, not only in dog training, but in other social contexts as well. Her passion is working with dogs whom have behavior issues, but she is also becoming a dog sport addict. Katie has recently started competing with Jasmine in rally obedience, competition obedience, and agility. Jasmine has also been certified as a canine good citizen and therapy dog. In Katie’s spare time, she likes to take long hikes in the woods with her canine pals. She says that is where she is most at peace. She is also attending Winona State University where she is studying to become an English teacher

See Katie’s client reviews here.

Lindsay with Rosie

Lindsay Kinney CPDT-KA, AKC CGC Evaluator has had an affinity for animals from an early age. Furry, slimy, scaled, or feathered–she loved them all. But she always had a soft spot for dogs. As a child she often crawled around on all fours, only responding to her “dog name.” Getting her first dog, a beautiful one-year-old Australian Shepherd named Rosie, was a dream come true. Lindsay wasted no time in signing Rosie up for training classes, but was taken aback when she learned her preconceived notions about training were false. She wasn’t taught to be the Alpha or establish dominance; she couldn’t even use her prong collar in class! Learning about clicker training opened up a whole new world, and Rosie was thriving in reward based classes. Lindsay signed up for every class offered, and spent her free time reading articles and looking up training tutorials on YouTube. When Rosie earned her Canine Good Citizen title, Lindsay’s passion for training led her instructor/evaluator to encourage Lindsay to pursue dog training as a profession. She volunteered as a training assistant at the Animal Humane Society, ran an in-home training business, and attended the Karen Pryor Academy for professional dog trainers, which she hopes to complete in Fall 2017. She also worked as a Pet Trainer at Petsmart, where she got to work hands-on with hundreds of dogs. In September 2016, Lindsay became a Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed.

In her classes, Lindsay works to strengthen human-animal relationships to help people enjoy their dogs. She can often be heard telling clients “Train the dog you want to live with”; focus on what matters to you and don’t sweat the small stuff. She has a particular interest in working with reactive dogs; Her own dog, Rosie, is reactive to men and other dogs, so she personally understands the frustration, embarrassment, and shame that comes with the territory. Lindsay also loves teaching trick classes, and is hoping to start competing in dog sports with Rosie, particularly Disc, Rally, Agility, and Freestyle.

Lindsay lives with her fantastic husband Gabe; her heart dog, Rosie; two wonderful cats, Eevee and Obi-wan Catnobie; and Mr. Nibbles, the formerly bitey hamster. Lindsay likes to spend her free time on the dance floor Lindy Hopping.

Laura with Rubi

Laura with Rubi

Laura McKinney CPDT-KA, APDT CLASS Evaluator started her canine career in the rescue world in 1999 as a kennel manager and animal control officer. She currently volunteers with A Rotta Love Plus, where she is a foster parent, trainer, case manager, and all around superheroine. Her niche is canine behavior, and she has been teaching people about their dog’s special needs since 2007. She served on the board of Twin Cities Obedience Training Club from 2010-2013, has attended seminars presented by some of the greatest names in canine behavior, and has titled each one of her six dogs in at least one sport.

To keep herself entertained when she’s not working with dogs and people, Laura works as a registered nurse in neuroscience research. She lives with six dogs, four cats, two cockatiels, four fish, two hamsters, three parakeets, and an exceptionally tolerant husband.

See Laura’s client reviews here.

Tara with her pack

Tara with Chance, Sawyer, Ziva, Mac, and a foster puppy

Tara Post CPDT-KA, CVT, ABCDT became a certified vet tech in 2002 and has worked in the field ever since. She always had a passion for animal behavior but became motivated to do more after adopting a dog with some dog-aggression problems. Her goal is to prove that it’s possible to have a great hunting dog without resorting to harsh training methods. Tara is a co-founder of a small rescue group and enjoys rehabilitating those dogs who need some extra help. She thinks that the best thing about training dogs is watching them figure out what works!

Tara’s family includes 4 dogs (3 of whom go hunting) – Chance, Sawyer, Ziva, and Mac; a couple cats; her husband; and three children. One dog has earned her JH title and the other is working towards his hunting title. Tara enjoys spending time outdoors with her kids and dogs. She especially enjoys teaching her daughters how to work with the dogs, even though they’re both quite young.

See Tara’s client reviews here.

Kristen with Felaou

Kristen with Felaou

Kristin Sicotte, CFF Judge is a competitor and judge in the exciting sport of Canine Freestyle. She is a member of the Canine Freestyle Federation (CFF) and has been involved with the organization since 2002. She taught classes in Maryland and now resides and teaches in Minnesota. Besides being a judge and competitor, she also presents seminars for CFF and currently competes in Level IV. Kristin loves that CFF provides a creative outlet as well as the incredible opportunity to share her beautiful breed, the Azawakh.

Kristin has an Azawakh and a Border Terrier.

See Kristin’s client reviews here.


Sarah with Reese

Sarah Thoreen, CTDI, KPA-CTP grew up in Minnesota and when adults asked what she wanted to be when she grew up the answer was a veterinarian or a zookeeper. Growing up with a terrier, a parakeet and bringing home stray cats kept things lively. In junior high, Sarah rode horses focusing on equestrian jumping.

Sarah has worked with multiple breed groups from terriers, to sporting breeds to herding dogs. She currently lives with her border collie Reese and her cat Sophie. Reese has her CGC, TDCH, CL1-H titles, has passed the three ORT’s for Nosework and is prepping for trialing. Sophie is working towards her Novice trick title.

Sarah and Reese participate in the Paws-to-Read library program and have experience in Obedience, Rally, Agility, Herding, Nosework and Tricks. At about 1½ years of age, Reese developed noise phobia to thunderstorms and fireworks, but it is well-controlled thanks to the help of a behaviorist, medication and good trainers.  Working with Reese’s thunder phobia sparked Sarah’s interest in animal behavior.

Sarah is a Certified Trick Dog Instructor (CTDI) through Do More With Your Dog, a graduate of Karen Pryor Academy’s Dog Trainer Professional program, and attends seminars whenever possible to further her education. She is currently earning hours towards sitting for the CPDT-KA exam.

The biggest reward that Sarah loves to see is happy dogs working with their humans.  Seeing that bond and partnership in everyday interactions, watching that dance between dog and handler that is a piece of magic that you can’t take away!

In her spare time Sarah loves to knit, read, hike, and has run multiple marathons with the help of her four-footed training partner, Reese.

See Sarah’s client reviews here.

Shelly with Raena

Shelly Wegman CPDT-KSA, AKC CGC Evaluator, Registered Therapy Dog Handler has been crazy about dogs (and horses) as long as she can remember. Currently, her family has 4 dogs: Charlotte the Lab cross, Sage the working Border Collie (cattle), Jordi who was adopted from a shelter and another who-really-knows-what-breeds-are-in-there girl, and Raena the Border Collie, the newest family member who provided an interesting training opportunity in working through her resource guarding and reactivity issues. While she still requires some management, Raena & Shelly are able to participate in competition dog sports together and are having a wonderful time doing so. Charlotte,  Jordi, and Raena each have titles in Obedience, Rally Obedience, and Agility. Shelly is also interested in getting her dogs involved in the sports of Barn Hunt and Nose Work. Shelly says each of her dogs are very different from each other, and each has a lot to teach. There are two kids of the human variety as well, both boys. Evan worked and played with Charlotte and Jordi in the 4-H program for 10 years, and is registered to do Therapy Dog work with Charlotte. Meanwhile Alden feels a special bond with Sage and enjoys restoring antique farming equipment. They all live on a dairy farm, but the menagerie of animals also includes horses and chickens, as well as the few occasional porkers and Bronze turkeys.

Previously, Shelly ran the 4-H Dog Project program in Olmsted County for six years, and is still involved with running the 4-H agility division. She is responsible for moving that program from choke chains to clicker training. While working with Paws Abilities Dog Training, Shelly has taught a wide variety of classes, including Obedience, Rally, Therapy Dog Prep, Focus & Control, Reactive Rehab, Tricks, and Agility! She also enjoys working one-on-one in private instruction with clients and their dogs to help them solve more complex behavior problems or to prepare for competition.

Favorite sayings: *”A good dog training session is like a pleasant, engaging conversation.” And – “Learn from your learner…(including the dog!)”

See Shelly’s client reviews here.

Kera with Tayla, Lilypad, Hyzer, and Winston

Kera Wilhelmsen, CPDT-KA, CTDI, ABCDT, AKC CGC Evaluator graduated from Winona State University with a degree in English (writing). Originally from Rosemount, MN, Kera has always had a passion for animals and hopes to work with multiple species in the future. She has helped manage boarding facilities as well as assisted with training and grooming. She also has worked as a receptionist and veterinary technician at vet clinics, and volunteered at shelters. She currently works full-time for Paws Abilities as the Head Trainer at Day Camp and teaches classes and offers behavior consults at a veterinary clinic.

Kera and her husband Paul live in Winona with their 6 rescued pets. Winston the pug was Kera’s first pet and official lap warmer. He never lets a lap stay empty for long! He has his Canine Good Citizen certification as well as his Novice Trick Dog title. Tayla is an intelligent Border Collie/Australian Cattle Dog cross who has been teaching Kera about the challenges and rewards of working with a reactive dog as well as the fun of trick training. Tayla has her Intermediate Trick Dog title as well as her Canine Good Citizen certification. Lilypad (Lily) the Pomeranian mix was rescued from a hoarding situation, had never been on a leash, and had no concept of potty training when she joined the family, but is now loving life. She is enjoying Nose Work to help with her confidence. The newest addition to the family is a Terrier mix named Hyzer who came to Kera through the vet clinic she worked at with a bite history. He has come a long way and is continuing to improve each day. Both Lily and Hyzer are working towards their Novice Trick Dog titles. The felines Pentax and Pixel round out the gang and are great cuddlers as well as alarm clocks.

Kera is certified as a CPDT-KA through the nationally recognized Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. She is a Certified Trick Dog Instructor (CTDI) through Do More With Your Dog, and a graduate of Animal Behavior College. As a Professional Member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers she attends seminars whenever possible to further her education.

See Kera’s client reviews here.

Dog Training Apprentices

Michelle and Maggie Mae

Michelle and Maggie Mae

Michelle Daiss lives in Rochester, MN with Maggie Mae (a Boston Terrier/Pug mix), two Miniature Pinschers, Shirley and Axel, and Lincoln, an orange tabby cat and immigrant from exotic Nebraska. Michelle has previously volunteered and provided foster care for dog rescues organizations.  It was through then foster dog Axel that she connected with Paws Abilities, becoming a student for life and developing interest in assisting others to experience the magic of positive reinforcement training and relationship building.  Michelle likes discovering ways to ease Maggie Mae’s anxiety through physical and mental exercise, manage tiny Axel’s reactivity to other dogs and anything with wheels, and provide enriching adventures for blind and senior Shirley.  Maggie Mae has passed her Nosework Birch ORT, and Axel and Shirley are beginning to delight in scent games as well.  Michelle enjoys learning from Paws Ability students (both species) and instructors, reading training and behavior resources, attending seminars and workshops, and taking photos to capture those magical dog-handler connections. Michelle has degrees in medical technology and management, and is employed full-time in the oversight of human research for a large healthcare organization.

See Michelle’s client reviews here.


Denise with Gunner, Murray, and Jade

Denise Koster has always had a love for animals and pets, but her interest in dog training began after she adopted her first dog in 2002, Buddy, an Australian Shepherd mix. After taking him through Level 1 and 2 Obedience, and earning his CGC title, she began training him in agility. She was bitten by the agility bug and it remains her favorite dog sport. She took her later dogs through a similar series of classes, starting with obedience and moving to agility, rally obedience and later to Canine Flying Disc aka Disc Dog.

Denise’s current pets are 4 dogs, Murray (Sheltie), Jade (Australian Shepherd), Gunner (Border Collie), and Ozzie (Border Collie mix), as well as 3 cats, Lexi, Cash, and Cosmo. Denise and her dogs have earned several titles in

Agility and Rally Obedience, and she has competed for several years in Disc Dog with Jade and more recently Gunner. She finds the fun and excitement in dog sports to be the learning and the incredible feeling of teamwork. It can be challenging to find what motivates different dogs in different activities but definitely worth it when the end result is a happy dog.

Denise has volunteered for several years at Paws and Claws Humane Society, as well as other area rescues and previously drove dogs on rescue transports for several years. She finds working with rescue dogs to be very rewarding and is very passionate about it. She adopted all of her dogs and cats through various rescue groups. She is happy to be a part of the Paws Abilities team and looks forward to helping you with your pet.

Class Assistants

Tori’s guinea pig crew

Tori Bloch is enjoying volunteering for the Therapy Dog Class at the Paws Abilities location in Minneapolis.  She lives with a really sweet Old English Sheepdog and three guinea pigs. Tori enjoys animals and is working with one of her guinea pigs to possibly  become a therapy animal in the future.  The therapy dog students, human and canine, enjoy having her help during class. Tori has been a volunteer for many Pet Partners tests, mostly dogs, but also cats, rabbits and guinea pigs.  Her assistance in volunteering her time to help test therapy animals is greatly appreciated!

Megan Cogswell bio coming soon

One of Mary’s guinea pigs.

Mary G. has enjoyed interacting with animals her entire life.  She currently resides with two guinea pigs, one of which is in training to become a registered therapy animal. If you can’t have a dog where you live and would like to do therapy work, guinea pigs are great and very trainable!   Mary was a volunteer for the Therapy Dog Class at the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley for about five years and has assisted as a volunteer for over a hundred therapy dog tests for the national organization Pet Partners. Currently she has been volunteering for two years for the Therapy Dog Class at Paws Abilities in Minneapolis.

She has been invaluable in helping with the therapy dog testing process.   Many of the dogs out visiting at nursing homes, hospitals, schools, libraries, airport, plus other venues, are able to make a difference in their communities due to volunteers like Mary!

Sarah with Bear

Sarah Griffin grew up surrounded by animals, including cats, rats, horses, and betta fish– but never dogs. She even considered herself a cat person until she began working as a kennel technician at a shelter in California. She was immediately won over. On New Year’s Day 2015, she pulled her first dog, a German Shepherd Dog named Bear, from impending euthanasia at a kill shelter and brought him home. She discovered immediately that she was out of her depth with a fearful dog, and began learning about humane training. Gaining Bear’s trust through that training led her to the realization that working with reactive, fearful, and aggressive dogs is what she wants to do with her life. She also has a budding interest in positively trained Schutzhund, which she hopes to compete in with a future German Shepherd.

Isabelle with Flynn Rider

Isabelle with Flynn Rider

Isabelle Reding lives in St. Paul with her English Golden Retriever Flynn, and has had a passion for animals since a very young age. She became especially interested in dog training when she got Flynn in 2014. She has worked at a boarding facility and assisted with canine agility classes. Working with dogs on a daily basis has taught her a lot about dog behavior, how to handle different types of dogs, and has provided her with a wealth of information about canine health and wellness.

Currently, Isabelle continues to earn hours toward her CPDT-KA, and plans on participating in the Karen Pryor Academy Professional course.  Isabelle also attends college at Concordia University, St. Paul, and is pursuing a joint Bachelors and Masters degree in Family Sciences.  Her ultimate goal is to be able to run a canine-assisted therapy clinic, as well as to continue taking (and ultimately teaching) dog training classes in the evenings.

When not engaged in her studies or in the dog training world, Isabelle enjoys participating in musical dramas, particularly for her church, where she will once again perform the role of Mary in the play Two from Galilee this fall.  Recently, she and a couple of her friends were also invited to the Fine Arts National Competition for their small group ensemble.

mickey_webMickey Short ABCDT‘s greatest interest in life has always been within the animal kingdom. She is gratified to have been the caregiver of many different species, from newborn raccoons to senior dogs. Her home was built as a refuge for any animal sent in her direction, as many as could be saved. She wants every animal she helps to know love, warmth, and safety.

Mickey became interested in dog training after working with a trainer at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah. She was struck by the difference that clicker training made in the morale of the dog walkers, as well as how impressive the skills were to potential adopters of the dogs who had been trained with positive reinforcement.

Mickey has an impressive resume of work with animals including wildlife rehabilitation; dog walking, fostering, grooming, intake, fundraising, and transport for rescues and shelters; obedience and agility training; work at a spay/neuter clinic; work at a horse sanctuary; and disaster animal rescue. She lives with three wonderful dogs, and has a special fondness for fearful, anxious, and reactive dogs.

Note: In 2002, Shalise was among the first few trainers in the state of Minnesota and the first 250 in the nation to earn the title Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed. Sara received her CPDT-KA certification in December 2005, Sarala in December 2007, Lindsay and Tara in April 2011, Julia and Linda in November 2011, Shelly in November 2012,  Laura M. in April 2014, and Kera, Lindsay and Carrie D. in October 2016. Tara earned her CVT (certified Veterinary Technician) in 2002 and Sara in June 2006. Kapp and Julia became CNWIs (Certified Nose Work Instructors) in December 2016. Trainers are also members of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) and actively involved in research and seminars to learn from the world’s experts.