Dana has made working with or for shelter dogs part of her career since 1986. She worked for not for profit animal agencies for 13 years, until 1999, when she started Dogs of Course with the first Instructor Training Course class. Her dedication to improving the lives of dogs and their owners through quality education at all levels was the motivating factor when she started the business and has been the guiding force for all projects she creates.
She started her professional career in dog training at Red Acre Farm Hearing Dog Center. As a trainer and then the Department Director of Red Acre Farm Hearing Dog Center’s training department, she had the privilege (an often daunting task) to screen, select, and train surrendered shelter dogs; turning them into working guide dogs for her deaf clients. Dana was evaluating temperament and matching dogs to their deaf owners long before most shelters ever considered screening dogs behaviorally and using formal systems to increase the odds for proper dog/owner matches. Her evaluation techniques were crude by today’s standards, but looked to flush out many of the same qualities/traits shelters look for including: friendliness; aggression; food, play and social motivation; activity level; stability; breed characteristics; reactions to different stimuli and auditory awareness. As Dana traveled throughout New England recruiting dogs, she became aware of the absence of behavior knowledge and a separation between the humane and dog training communities. Since the 1980’s she has fostered communication and dialog to bring together the professions to benefit homeless dogs. This quest ultimately translated into one of the pillars of the Instructor Training Courses.
Her extensive professional experience in training and behavior also includes animal shelter program coordinator for volunteers, pet training instructor, lecturer, shelter consultant, and Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue’s adoption coordinator/counselor. At YGRR, she screened all the dogs coming into the program, counseled relinquishing owners on all issues including euthanasia, coached and taught new adopters, evaluated dog temperament, trained and supervised volunteers, and placed over 800 Goldens into new families in just 3 years. Through her work at YGRR, she has become particularly interested in the dynamics associated with issues and decisions that separate dogs from their families.
Dana is driven by her thirst for her own personal education. She has attended hundreds of events including seminars, dog camps, chicken camps, courses, and conferences. Committed to promoting dog training to the public as a skilled profession, she is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. She passed the first national certification test for dog trainers earning the title Certified Professional Dog Trainer. She also has a B.A. in Business Administration from Babson College.
Dana has been competing in dog sports since 1984, believing in having fun first and foremost. She has titled in obedience, field, conformation, earthdog, rally, agility and K9 Nose Work. Through her interest in agility and quality education, she created and operated an agility summer camp, Competitive Edge Sports Camp (2000-2004) that offered consistent cutting edge training in a small friendly environment reminiscent of children’s sleepover camp. She also joined forces with Clean Run and co-produced Clean Run Camps and in 2007 and 2008, co-produced a conference specifically for agility instructors. Dana is primarily competing in K9 Nose Work at this time and hosting K9 Nose Work camps in collaboration with the National Association of Canine Scent Work.
Dana continues to support charitable organizations by periodically running fundraising events and activities. One of her most successful events was On Course For Kids, an agility fundraiser and social night that benefited the Floating Hospital’s Children’s Cancer Center in Boston, MA. From 2001 to 2006, Dana and the agility community have raised over $305,000.00 for Child Life Services. In August 2010 she hosted the Best Friends Forever Conference that raised funds for St. Hubert Animal Welfare Center’s Capital campaign. Her Nose Work Camps always include a charity auction for local and/or national animal related charities.
Dana shares with her home with her husband and their two dogs.