My entire family has always had a love and desire to work with animals. My dad and brother are both veterinarians, and from 1995 - 2015 I was involved with retired racing greyhound adoption helping over 2,048 dogs find their forever homes. It wasn’t until 2004 that God presented me with the opportunity to combine my passion with a career after being unexpectedly laid off. Little did I know after earning an undergraduate degree in Exercise Physiology and masters in Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, that I would finally learn that combining my spiritual gifts and passion are what brings true fulfillment. How many people actually have the privilege of saying they love getting up for work every day?
I believe in using Force Free and positive based training methods and that timing with reinforcement will make or break communication. That means giving rewards at the exact second the dog is exhibiting a behavior you want. Unwanted behavior gets ignored (communicating back with body language dogs understand as opposed to words) or re-directed so I can reward them for a more desirable behavior. Most people don't realize that yelling at a barking dog is perceived by the dog as you barking with them. The fun is reinforced and that's why it's never a successful way to get the behavior to stop. Did you know there are 6 different barking classifications and 30 different body language signals dogs give to each other and us to communicate? I believe your relationship with your dog will change once you fine tune how to read your dogs body language signals because I've seen it happen with my own dogs. It's natural to mistakenly interpret their behaviors and thoughts in human terms as opposed to canine - which is vastly different. It's also important to understand that dominance is not a personality trait and a label given to dogs that has been greatly misused. The APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) defines dominance as a "relationship between two or more animals and is related to which animal has access to valued resources such as food, mates, etc. It should not be used in any way to support the belief that dogs are out to "dominate" us, especially as that misunderstanding causes some people to respond with force and aggression. The APDT's position is that physical or psychological intimidation hinders effective training and damages the relationship between humans and dogs. Dogs thrive in an environment that provides them with clear structure and communication regarding appropriate behaviors, and one in which their need for mental and physical stimulation is addressed".
I make it a priority to attend seminars as much
as possible to learn what's new in dog training/behavior, nutrition and
health. I have been to weekend training seminars with the
following nationally known professional trainers; Patricia McConnell,
Suzanne Clothier, Turid Rugaas, Brenda Aloff, Nicole Wilde, Sara Kalnajs
and veterinarians Dr. Jean Dodds, Dr. Guillermo Couto and Dr. Doug
Knueven. I enjoy taking classes with my own dogs, fosters and client dogs
with local trainers including Penny Layne, Lilian Akin, Tena Parker and
Debbie McMullen (see my links section for their information).
I have fostered 66 greyhounds, owned 4 and have experience with reactive and fearful dogs. My greyhound Sherman is a reactive dog who I had no idea how to deal with when he came into my life in 2007. Ongoing training classes and socializing have made a huge difference in his behavior and in my knowledge of how to re-direct him and work to build his confidence. I finally learned that his personality wasn't something I could change completely, and my response to his reactions would either help calm him or make him worse. We still take one day at a time and I am committed to managing his re-activeness on a daily basis and simply loving him for who he is. The things I've learned through training with Sherman, and continue to learn have allowed me to help clients and adopters who have dogs with similar behavioral and personality challenges.
I am a big believer that feeding a healthy and natural diet is a necessary base for allowing our pets to thrive both mentally and physically. I see the benefits of treating all animals with a holistic approach to care (looking at the body as a whole) that incorporates both traditional (western) and alternative (eastern) based practices and always keep an open mind to learning new things. What works for one dog may not work for another. The Whole Dog Journal is an amazing monthly resource guide to the latest information on positive based training, how to deal with behavioral issues, health care, food, etc. and I highly recommend it for every dog owner (www.whole-dog-journal.com).
Since 1998, I have voluntarily organized and participated in pet therapy programs with various local nursing homes. It's amazing how a visit from an animal will put a sparkle in someones eye and bring a smile to their face when nothing else in life can anymore. I am a member and active volunteer at Orchard Hill Church in Wexford, which is an inter-denominational contemporary Christian biblical church. I usher every other Sunday and participate in ongoing women’s bible studies. I think it's important for my customers and clients to know that throughout the day, whether I'm in your house taking care of your pets without you there, pooper scooping your yard, or am home sewing a dog bed for you, I think about being held accountable to a higher authority. I want all my actions and decisions to be pleasing to God and therefore, pleasing to you.
I can’t wait to get the chance to spoil your pets as if they were my own!
Me and my Mandi!