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my bro & Olaf & me

I don't know if I have the fascinated-by-animals gene in my DNA, or whether I got my love of pets from my Dad--maybe both.  I've been caring for pets since I can remember.  I quickly became the go-to pet person in the family, and I was proud to be allowed to walk and handle our Saint Bernard, Olaf, although I was just four.  (This isn't something I'd recommend, just for the record.)  One of the best moments of my life happened when I was twelve and was allowed to have my very own Collie pup.  I spent every minute with Amber Laurie, 'training' her so that it would be clear to the rest of the family that she was my dog. 

I love performing & teaching cello and chamber music...

I've spent many happy years as a performer with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Vermont Symphony, the Rochester Chamber Orchestra (above I'm with that ensemble and the wonderful Arvel Bird), the Finger Lakes Opera, and as a member of the chamber music ensembles Cello Divas and Air de Cour (below), and I look forward to many more.  I'll also celebrate my 35th anniversary in 2015 as an instructor of cello and chamber music.  Somewhat to my surprise, I've found that the skills I learned as a musician have helped me take 'giant steps' into my second career as a dog trainer.

Pito, beloved Chihuahua

I was in a quandary when it came time to go to college, and even halfway through I considered going back and taking the road not travelled:  I wanted to be a veterinarian and I wanted to be a professional cellist.  I did wind up with Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the Eastman School of Music, where I earned the coveted Performer's Certificate.  I moved off campus as soon as possible so that I could have my beloved cats and dogs.  Here's my first 'own' dog, a wonderful little guy named Pito (and you might see Ronnie the cat's tail).  Pito went almost everywhere with me, and lay on the floor near my cello endpin when I practiced or taught.  During the time period when this photo was taken, I was thrilled to get summer work as a hospital/surgery assistant at a vet's office. 

...and I love having a new 'hat' to wear now.

My transition into dog training happened so gradually that I didn't realize at first where it would lead.  I was involved in local rescue and in the online networking of shelter dogs, and as things developed I fostered and adopted out (some to me) several dogs who needed help with fear and/or aggression.  I had to learn quickly, and I wanted to learn from the best force free trainers I could find.  I am very grateful that many of the best trainers are also the most generous, and give freely of their wisdom in person, online, and in book and article form.  I am continuously learning and updating my skills, but one thing won't change--I'm a force free trainer and very proud of it.  I got my dog trainer's insurance in the summer of 2014, and Mankind's Best Friendship LLC was incorporated soon thereafter.

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