Was youngest school superintendent in state of Ohio
Served over two decades as local, city, & county school superintendent
Authored 6 Books; five on Organizations, one on dog training
Listed in a dozen Who’s Who anthologies on leadership
Distinguished Graduate of Bowling Green State University, Ohio
Earned five University Degrees; including counseling & research
Holds four independent certifications as professional dog trainer
Recognized: Local Business Professional of the year award
Director, Trainer, Consultant, Ohio Training & Assistance for Schools & Communities
Two terms BOD: International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants
Founding member of two local therapy dog organizations
Listed in National Journal of Educational Innovators
Presenter at national curriculum and Instruction conferences
Former member IAACP testing committee
Adjunct professor at five universities
Presenter at Kutztown University Dog Training program
Founder Youngstown State University Canine Behavior program
Frequent speaker on ameliorating Aggression
Owner of Signature K-9 Behavior & Training LLC since 1995
Member K-9 Doctorial Dissertation Committee, Virginia
Julie Buesser, CPDT-KA
Julie has always enjoyed having dogs as a part of her life and admired the relationship people with disabilities have had with their Assistance Dogs. When she was 16 years old she
began volunteering as a puppy raiser for an Assistance Dog organization and attributes so much of who she is today to what she has learned through her experiences and relationships with dogs, dog trainers, and people with disabilities. Volunteering in animal therapy with one of her released puppies helped guide her to a career in nursing where she has excelled and is now the Nurse Manager and Director of Associated Urological Specialists Procedure Center and Office Manager of Urology Consultants. She uses the extensive nursing experience she has gained as a critical care float and emergency department nurse as well as the empathy she attributes to her experiences working with Assistance and Therapy dogs to optimize patient care experiences in the office and surgical setting. She has gone on to continue her education and is now working towards completing a masters degree in nursing where she will serve as an Advanced Practice Nurse to her patients as well.
Her role as a volunteer in the Assistance Dog industry has blossomed from a puppy raiser to serving as NYC Chapter President for Canine Companions for Independence and led her to her current role as the Chicago Area Field Representative for Paws With A Cause. As Field Representative she works directly with the clients applying for an Assistance Dog, coaches each client through the challenges of placement and certification of their Assistance Dog, provides ongoing training support which often requires creative solutions to incredible practical challenges, and reports back and discusses training strategies with staff trainers at Paws headquarters. She also oversees the Foster Puppies being raised in her area providing classes and training support to volunteers preparing their puppies for Assistance Dog work.
Julie’s training approach and philosophies of handling dogs has also benefited from the five years she spent at the ASPCA working as a volunteer dog captain and fostering numerous dogs; the three years she spent working with members of PA and MD FEMA training Search and Rescue Dogs; the countless training seminars and expos she enjoys attending; and most importantly the dogs and clients she has worked with who have given her the chance to learn from their relationships and challenges allowing her to have a positive impact in their lives as a professional dog trainer.
Most recently, Julie has worked as a curriculum writer drawing upon her personal experience as a trainer as well as the myriad of different continuing education courses and readings she has accomplished. Most influential being the continuing education courses she has taken at the Shed Aquarium with Ken Ramirez understanding the challenges of working with marine animals and the power of primary as well as secondary reinforcers.
As a manager, a nurse and a professional dog trainer Julie consistently finds herself in the role of a teacher; always trying to find the area of most needed change and teaching positive practical methods to solve these challenges.
Nicole Larocco, CPDT-KA
Nicole's professional animal training career began in college, teaching equestrian and horseback riding lessons. After graduating with a double major in marketing and advertising, she worked at a boarding kennel as head trainer and obedience instructor.
Nicole decided to move into the world of animal sheltering by taking a job at Animal Friends, a no-kill animal rescue and resource center in Pittsburgh in 2005. In 2008, the Pennsylvania SPCA recruited Nicole for the position of Director of Animal Behavior and Training. Nicole's specialty in the role was creating an evaluation and enrichment program for all of the shelter animals, and working with vulnerable populations of animals including dogs brought in from cruelty and neglect and animal fighting cases. Nicole's efforts have been documented on television shows including Animal Cops: Philadelphia; Animal Planet's: Dogfighting Exposed; and on local television and radio programming. Nicole has co-instructed classes for and spoken at numerous universities. Nicole regularly audits behavior programs for other animal shelters and rescues.
In 2011, Nicole left the Pennsylvania SPCA to both found her own dog training company, Philly Unleashed (www.phillyunleashed.com), and to work as the Director of Training and Animal Programming for New Leash on Life-USA (www.newleashonlife-usa.org); a new generation prison program that rescues dogs from high-volume shelters and places them with prison inmates for training.
Nicole resides in the Philadelphia area with her fiance and two rescued dogs; an Australian Cattle Dog mix named Uluru and a border collie mix named Porterhouse; both of whom actively compete in the sports of obedience and agility.
Ruth LaRocque, CPDT-KA
Ruth LaRocque co-owns Seattle Pet Pals LLC and provides training in the Puget Sound area of the Pacific Northwest. She conducts private, in-home behavior consulting and training services for dogs, cats and other family pets and specializes in addressing fear and aggression. Through the use of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), a scientifically sound teaching technology and ethical standard of care, Ruth helps pet owners learn the tools they need to create behavior-change programs that resolve problem behaviors and empower and enrich the lives of the animals in their care.
Ruth is also a presenter for the internationally recognized Dogs and Storks program for new and expecting families with dogs, as well as the Dog and Baby Connection program which works to increase the safety of children and the success of dogs in homes with children. In addition to building relationships between pet dogs and their human families, she enjoys training and competing in agility with two of her own dogs.
Ruth completed a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with an emphasis in pre-vet studies. Before she had a chance to attend vet school, she got a job in the State Capitol and spent the next several years working in government and politics at the local, state and federal level. She was finally able to combine her skills in working with people and her passion for training animals when Seattle Pet Pals was created in 2003.
In addition to being a CPDT-KA and a CBCC-KA, Ruth is a graduate of Jean Donaldson’s highly regarded Dog Trainer Academy and a professional member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. She and her partner Tim currently share their home with a husky mix named Sugar, a Maltese named Daisy, and a Border Collie named Seven.
Lou Mande, CPDT-KA
Jamie was elected to the CCPDT Board of Directions in April this year and attended her first Board of Directors meeting in May. She is very excited to be more actively involved in this dynamic group of professionals and participate in decisions that will help move the organization forward. Jamie currently serves on multiple subcommittees for the CCPDT. She believes in creating and maintaining industry standards, educating the public on teaching and training using current scientific training techniques, and furthering the dog training and behavior consulting profession.
Jamie has always been an animal lover and owned many different types of domestic pets over the years. She began riding horses at the age of 5 and had a long lasting love affair – about 30 years in the equine world. She was involved in a variety of equestrian disciplines – barrel racing, racking horses, polo ponies, endurance riding, eventing, stadium jumping and dressage.
In 2000, Jamie made a decision to pursue a dog training career professionally instead of continue her work with equines. While taking training classes to prepare her dogs to become therapy dogs, Jamie realized her true passion – helping foster a better relationship with people and dogs through positive reinforcement training. She continued to volunteer at a psychiatric hospital doing therapy dog work, gaining valuable experience interacting with a diverse group of people – staff and patients.
After 15 years of being the sole trainer and teaching at multiple locations, Jamie now teaches group classes on a limited basis and instead focuses on training trainers. Along with mentoring dog trainers, she manages several smrtdog studios (5) throughout San Diego county. Jamie continues to do private consultations and provides video consulting, as well as, teach specialty dog sport classes. She avidly pursues continuing education and professional development by attending and presenting at seminars and conferences each year. Jamie has written over a dozen articles for SD Pets Magazine, San Diego Pets, the San Diego Gazette and most recently the APDT’s The Chronicle of the Dog.
Smrtdog is continually adding new innovative classes and most recently, provides specialized training, consulting and technology solutions for canines and canine related businesses. Smrtdog is committed to finding new market opportunites, setting high industry standards and helping maintain current success for pet professionals.
Jamie and her husband, Smrtdog General Manager, John Surmont, collaborate together on a variety of projects. Of late, both John and Jamie have become involved in the canine scent detection community. John is a former Navy SEAL (15 years), and is a trusted advisor for Naval Special Warfare and USSOCOM (United States Special Operations Command).
Jamie and John have formed a lasting partnership both personally and professionally to help improve the lives of humans and canines through technology and education. Smrtdog is committed to helping dogs and their owners (pet owners) and handlers (professional handlers) improve their relationship, performance and attain their training goals.
Amanda Kowalski, CPDT-KA
Amanda was elected to the Board of Directors in April of 2015 and is very excited to be working with a diverse group of Directors to help continue to move the organization and profession in a positive direction. She is currently completing her Masters of Science in Animals and Public Policy at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. While a student in this program, Amanda has had the opportunity to explore the ethical, legal, social, scientific, and policy dimensions of human-animal relationships. In addition to finishing her degree, she also works for the Cummings School as a Research Coordinator. She is engaged in two projects that have the potential to vastly improve feline welfare and potential save animal lives.
Outside of her work with the Cummings School, Amanda volunteers with the Worcester Animal Rescue League’s B-Mod Squad and the MSPCA’s Animal Action Team. She is also the owner of the newly established dog training business, The Scholarly Canine.
Prior to moving to Massachusetts in the fall of 2013, Amanda has a long history in animal sheltering and behavior and training. She first began volunteering as a Junior Volunteer in 2000 in Chicago, IL with The Anti-Cruelty Society (ACS). Since then she has worked for both ACS and the Champaign County Humane Society in a variety of capacities. While an animal science undergraduate at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Amanda studied abroad with Roger Abrantes learning about canine behavior and advanced animal training. Her professional behavior and training career took off in 2008 when she began working as an Animal Behavior Specialist and School of Dog Training Instructor at The Anti-Cruelty Society. While in this role, she developed and implemented a volunteer enrichment and training program for dogs, titled Finishing School. In 2010, in addition to receiving her CPDT-KA certification, Amanda was awarded the APDT Premier Shelter Award for her work at ACS.
Amanda moved to California in the summer of 2011 to work for the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA (SDHS) as the Manager of Behavior and Training. Amanda worked with a team of trainers and a board certified veterinary behaviorist to develop and implement community based programming, a shelter animal training program, a volunteer behavior program, and behavior center. Her time with SDHS also allowed her to gain many professional skills in project development, implementation, and management, leadership, fiscal responsibility, community engagement, and animal advocacy. On a couple of occasions Amanda has addressed the San Diego County Board of Supervisors regarding animal welfare issues.
Amanda strives to positively impact the animal welfare and dog training field through community engagement and collaboration as well as through her professional and academic endeavors.