Jane Allman | Carrie Alongi | Jane Aten | Darlene Blackman | Kathleen Call | Chad Carlson | Sally Connell | Yuching Desch | Angela Gardner | Ann Glascock-Ryan | Virginia Grainger | Joan Green | Jeri Hirvela | Annie Humphrey | Heather Johnson | Dawn Kovell | Betsy McGee | Amy McPherson | Nancy Mimms | Alissa Porter | Paula Skelton | Dev Sperber | Annette Thomason | Ali Vorhies | Marisa Walker | Beth Weil
Jane Allman, GDMI, began her career with animals as a college student of exotic animal training at Moorpark college in Ventura County. It was there she developed her skills as a positive reinforcement trainer working with animals such as lions, capuchin monkeys, Amazon parrots, a water buffalo, and studio actor dogs. In addition, she was recently accepted into University of Washington’s Applied Animal Behavior program where she will be continuing her education in animal behavior.
Following graduation, Jane was hired as an apprentice guide dog instructor at Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael. After completing her 3 year apprenticeship she became a licensed guide dog mobility instructor, training guide dogs and their new handlers. Jane loves watching the bond develop between a handler or owner and their new dogs.
Currently, she lives in Novato with her husband Matt and their two career-change dogs from guide dogs, Hackett and Echo, who both have enjoyed being students in Marin Humane’s agility program. When not training dogs and their people, Jane can be found out hiking the many dog friendly trails in Marin and Sonoma, or out caring for her chickens, baby chicks, and two Nigerian dwarf goat brothers.
Carrie Alongi attended the Marin Humane Canine Behavior Academy and volunteered as a dog training assistant prior to becoming an instructor. She believes that positive, choice-based training is the best method to produce good behavior and a confident, happy family dog.
A lifelong lover of animals, Carrie focused on a pre-veterinary/agriculture program in high school and went on to work as a veterinary technician before joining the corporate world. She is excited to return to working with dogs and continues to attend workshops, seminars, and online courses to expand her dog behavior knowledge and training skills.
Carrie began taking nosework classes at Marin Humane to build her young dog’s confidence and manage his reactivity, and now actively trains and competes in K9 Nose Work. Carrie shares her home with Tobee, a French bulldog, and Oliver, an Entlebucher mountain dog.
Jane Aten is the Behavior & Training Canine Volunteer Coordinator at Marin Humane. She began teaching dog training classes at Marin Humane following the COVID-19 Stay-at-Home orders. In addition to teaching classes and working with Marin Humane’s 250+ Behavior & Training volunteers, she also evaluates shelter dogs and leads playgroups. Before joining the Marin Humane Behavior & Training team, she worked at an animal rescue organization in Walnut Creek as an Intake & Behavior Specialist and Kitten Kindergarten instructor.
Jane’s interest in animal behavior started when she adopted Albie, an 8lb terrier-poodle-mix with a slew of issues including leash reactivity and severe separation anxiety. Her love and dedication to Albie lead her to discover positive dog training methods. Jane’s goal in life is to help animals and the humans that love them live happier lives together.
Darlene Blackman has worked in animal welfare for nearly 40 years. She is a dog training instructor as a part of her role as the director of community engagement, where she manages the Pet Care Assistance, Pet Safety Net, Animal-Assisted Programs, and Share a Book programs as well as Humane Education. Darlene is well known in the industry for having created the Your Dog to Share and the Share a Book animal assisted therapy dog programs. She presents workshops at many local and national conferences featuring the work of Marin Humane community engagement programs and the human-companion animal bond. During her tenure at Marin Humane she has also held positions in education, adoptions and the behavior and training departments.
Before joining the team at Marin Humane, Darlene worked for 10 years at the Massachusetts SPCA in animal care, humane education and volunteer coordination. She also worked at the Massachusetts Audubon Society, a farm education center, and at a livestock auction where she worked to create a safer, more humane place for the animals.
Darlene graduated from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst where she studied animal science/veterinary medicine.
Kathleen Call, CPDT-KA, CNWI, CBA I & II, AKC CGC Evaluator, has been a professional trainer since 2009. A lifelong animal lover, she began her in-depth education into behavior modification and training when she adopted a beloved dog with aggression issues. Her journey led her to discover the power of K9 Nose Work and its ability to transform reactive dogs. Kathleen completed specialized training through the National Association of Canine Scent Work and earned her CNWI in 2018. Kathleen has also taught Marin Humane’s rewarding Train-to-Adopt and Shelter Scents classes for the shelter dogs, in which volunteers bring adoption dogs to class to learn basic obedience, scent work and some cute tricks.
Kathleen’s specialty is teaching people how to “read their dog.” She believes that with a better awareness of dog body language and behavior, all human/canine relationships can improve in amazing ways. She enjoys seeing dogs and their people become more confident and comfortable through training. Kathleen lives with her husband and multiple Marin Humane canine alumni in Muir Beach, CA. She actively trains and competes in K9 Nose Work with her Elite level dog, Mighty Casey.
Chad is the Behavior Coordinator at Marin Humane. His responsibilities include evaluating strays, surrendered, and transferred dogs. Chad manages the San Quentin Pen Pals Program which is a rehabilitation program with the inmates at San Quentin State Prison. The Pen Pals Program is all about second chances. A second chance for the handlers (inmates) to gain responsibility, accountability, compassion and often times love for the dogs in their care. The dogs get a second chance by being rehabilitated giving them the help they need to get adopted.
Chad’s love for dogs began as a kid but this love became a passion when he managed, trained and raced sled dogs (called Dog Drivers not mushers). He worked with a 39-dog kennel training them to pull a 350 pound “rig” on dirt at a winery in Sonoma. These races were held all over the Sierras, like Lake Davis Forest Hill and Diamond Lake Oregon and Chad’s fastest time was 28 minutes over 8 miles earning first place.
Chad has a marketing degree from the University of Minnesota and played football and ice hockey through college and still plays in hockey around the bay area. Chad currently has two dogs, Rhea and Chance with an active, loud Bengal cat who runs the house. His favorite trick he taught his Kelpie mix is to recycle. This is where Chance takes paper, bottles, empty paper towel rolls to the recycling can. He also taught her to find money, which was disallowed by his wife after Chance started to go in her purse to take money out. Chad teaches Puppies in the Park, Beginning Puppy and the Family dog series.
Sally Connell is an agility instructor who has been a lifelong animal lover. Born and raised in Wisconsin, as a child Sally trained and competed with horses in hunters/jumpers and dressage. A close friend inspired her to try agility, so she started with her first agility dog, an Australian Shepherd in 2000. Discovering positive reward training and the exhilaration of running a course with her dog, agility became her focus. In 2009 her first Border Collie pup arrived, and serious training began.
Since then she has focused on International handling and competition, traveling to Europe for two European Open Teams in 2018 and 2019. She has also traveled to the Hungarian Open and trained with the famous Tamas Traj as well as USA World Team Coach Nancy Gyes. Recently Sally won a spot representing Team USA at the World Agility Open (WAO) in the Netherlands in 2020.
Sharing a home with her husband and three Border Collies, and spending time with her three grown children, Sally also loves to hike with her dogs in the mountains and run at the beach. She looks forward to giving back and helping people of all walks of life to play and have fun with their dogs on the agility field.
Yuching Desch, CPDT-KA, CTDI, CNWI, teaches Family Dog 1-3, Tricks, Nosework and other game workshops. She is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Stunt Dog Judge, AKC CGC & Tricks Evaluator, AKC ATT Judge and a Professional Member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.
Yuching specializes in training and working with fearful dogs using fun and confidence building activities such as tricks, games and nosework. Because of her own shy and fearful dog, Yuching strives to learn about dogs as much as possible. She has completed Marin Humane’s Canine Behavior Academy and continues to attend workshops and seminars with internationally renowned trainers.
Yuching enjoys sharing her knowledge and helping people discover the talents of their dogs. When not working with client dogs, Yuching enjoys baking (dog treats), knitting (dog sweaters), reading (about dogs) and hiking (with her fearful but very cute dog).
Angela Gardner, CTC, CSAT, is a Dog Training Instructor and Behavior Consultant for Marin Humane. She has 16 years of experience training dog parents and their animals, as well as consulting, teaching, boarding and extraordinary dog walking adventures. She’s a graduate of The Academy for Dog Trainers, a Separation Anxiety Pro Trainer, and holds certificates in both Teaching Separation Anxiety in Dogs, and Animal Behavior from Marin Humane.
In her off-time, Angela is an avid hiker and paddle boarder. She and her Beagle and Mini Aussie mix, Rookie, enjoy watching sunsets from the 40-foot Delta boat they call home. Angela is also a die-hard fan of the San Francisco 49ers, the San Francisco Giants and the Golden State Warriors, and can be found on the sidelines or watching at home most weekends during the teams’ seasons.
Ann Glascock-Ryan, CBA 1 & 2, has been passionate about dogs since she was a child and her first job, as a 10-year-old, was training her neighbor’s new puppy Spot at a Marin Humane class. An avid dog enthusiast, she spent time participating in obedience trials and then gravitated towards working with service dogs. She was a puppy raising leader for Guide Dogs for the Blind for 10 years, helping families during the 18-month commitment to socialize, train, and love these dogs before they move into service.
Ann has managed dog boarding and day care facilities in the past 10 years and understands families’ passion to create happy lives for their pets. Ann’s goals in dog training is to find what will work best for both dogs and their families to increase the enjoyment for all.
Ann enjoys spending time with extended family at the beach, hiking, live music, and relaxing at home. Her family shares its home and time with Guava, Echo and her first little dog, Whimsy, who is expanding her knowledge of training and stretching her skills, and a Marin Humane alum, a kitty named Panda.
Virginia Grainger found her way to positive reinforcement dog training like many people, because she had a challenging dog. A consultation with Dawn Kovell quickly led to Virginia becoming a volunteer with Marin Humane in 2001. Shortly thereafter she was training all the volunteers in the Behavior Department. As time went on Virginia joined the staff and became an Instructor, Volunteer Coordinator, Evaluator, Consultant and a few more positions.
Some of the many initials Virginia can put after her name include, B.A, J.D., CPDT-KA, CBA I & II. Virginia is the Marin Humane Shelter Behavior Manager and oversees canine evaluations, adoption dog consultations and is also teaching classes and doing private consultations.
Virginia currently shares her home with her husband Jason and her 100% Marin Humane dog pack, which currently is made up of one Old English Sheepdog/German Shepherd mix, two Australian Shepherds and one 7 pound Chihuahua, who really runs the show.
Joan Green is an agility instructor and has been training and competing in the sport for 15 years. Prior to agility she devoted her time to dog obedience and herding. With her second agility dog, Joan achieved her dream of competing and being a semi-finalist at the USDAA Cynosports World Games in both 2012 and 2014. Her third agility dog is in training and beginning his competitive career.
Joan began teaching agility at Marin Humane in 2016 and strives to make the sport of agility a fun activity for all dogs and their human handlers. As a teacher she enjoys fostering teamwork and watching confidence and ability grow. She enjoys showing students that the technical sport of agility is actually a fun bunch of tricks involving jumps and tunnels and things to climb over. No matter the dog sport she is training, Joan’s primary focus is always to have a household of happy, healthy, well-mannered dogs.
Jeri Hirvela is presently a CPDT-KA student at CATCH Canine Academy. She grew up in a household with a long history of animal husbandry and training. Jeri has vast experience with home-based canine sport and obedience training. She was introduced to reward-positive training for horses and has incorporated that philosophy into all of her training. Jeri spent over a decade in fitness coaching, experience which she now utilizes with training dogs and their owners. She started her own dog walking service specializing in working with fearful and leash-reactive dogs. Most recently, Jeri has become a DTA at Marin Humane.
Jeri lives in Mill Valley with her husband, elderly in-laws, and their American Eskimo/Chihuahua, Betty White.
Annie Humphrey, MSW, CPDT-KA, CBA I & II, and AKC CGC Evaluator, is professional trainer with more than 20 years’ experience working with companion animals in veterinary, shelter and private settings. She brings her background in psychology and social work, including many years serving at-risk children and their families, to her current focus on therapy dog training. She co-teaches the Your Dog to Share and Share a Book classes. She also teaches Rally Obedience.
Annie has loved and lived with animals her entire life. As a kid growing up in Novato, she rode her pony to do her paper route and a few years later earned ribbons showing her horse, a Thoroughbred/Arab cross. Annie lives with an adorable Staffordshire Bull Terrier named Scout and Dillon, a beautiful Border Collie. In addition to therapy dog work she has trained her dogs (past and present) in Rally Obedience, Agility, Flyball, and Lure Racing.
Heather Johnson has been playing flyball since 1999 and teaching it since 2005. Teams coached by Heather have won multiple North American Flyball Association Regional Championships in both the Regular and Multibreed divisions. While flyball is her first passion, over the years Heather and her dogs have trained, competed, and titled in multiple other sports, including agility, regular and rally obedience, dock jumping, and lure racing.
Heather’s primary focus when training is to create confident flyball dogs and handlers who understand and love the game. She uses positive reinforcement and lots of different games to build enjoyment and teach the skills needed for successful flyball racing.
Heather currently loves, spoils, and plays flyball, agility, dock jumping and lure racing with Xena (Parson Russell Terrier) and Xoom (Border Collie-Whippet mix).
Dawn Kovell, KPA-CTP, CBA I & II, is the director of the Behavior & Training Department at Marin Humane. A member of the Behavior & Training staff since 2000, she has developed in-depth training and behavior modification skills through hands on experience working with thousands of dogs and people over the past two decades. In addition to her animal-related skills, she utilizes her extensive education, including an MBA from UC Berkeley, and her early career in business and finance to keep the Behavior & Training Department of more than 300 staff and volunteers running smoothly. Dawn is a graduate of the Karen Pryor Professional Dog Training Academy.
Dawn’s responsibilities, in addition to designing and teaching classes, include extensive rehabilitative work with shelter dogs. She created the B Team, an internal behavior modification team, in response to the many behavioral needs seen in the shelter population, devised specialized kennel enrichment protocols for shelter dogs and personally performs behavior triage when needed in the case of natural disasters and emergencies.
Dawn’s training specialty and passion is in sport dog training including building motivation and advanced obedience. She has titled numerous dogs in flyball and obedience, done agility at the master’s level and dabbled in schutzhund, dock diving and tracking. Dawn enjoys the particular challenge of finding techniques to address unusual problematic behaviors. Having grown up on a dairy farm in Ohio, she is also adept at addressing multi-species co-habitation issues. Dawn lives with her daughter and houseful of dogs and cats and actively trains and competes in flyball.
Betsy McGee has decades of experience as a dog training instructor and has helped hundreds of teams learn the basics of obedience over the years. She discovered her passion for behavior and training when she enrolled her own dogs in Marin Humane classes back in 1985. Time flies when you love what you are doing because Betsy has now worked in the Behavior & Training Department for more than 30 years. What she enjoys most is working personally with clients and their dogs so that both can live harmoniously together.
While her roles have varied during her long tenure she is currently focused on helping Marin County senior citizens with their animals. Drawing on her decades of experience she helped develop and teaches a special obedience class for seniors and makes in home visits to Marin seniors who need assistance with their dogs’ behavior. She is also a critical member of the Marin Humane dog and cat behavior evaluation teams.
Betsy shares her home with her husband, two MH feline alumni, and a 45-mile-an-hour couch potato, also known as a rescued greyhound, who passes her time sleeping upside down on the couch.
Amy McPherson began her professional dog training career as an assistance dog trainer for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). During her 12 year tenure with CCI she was immersed in all aspects of assistance dog training and found the detailed work of training dogs to become high functioning partners for members of the disabled community to be thrilling on many levels. After she become a mother, Amy joined the teaching staff at Marin Humane, bringing with her the precision and techniques used to train service dogs to the highest levels to the Marin Humane Family Dog classes.
Amy teaches every class using modern dog training techniques where she emphasizes putting each skill into every day, practical use. Amy’s focus is on helping people develop a relationship with the family dog based on trust, understanding, kindness and common sense application. She strives to make the experience of living with a dog better for both human and canine alike.
Nancy Mimms, APDT, CBA I & II, is a dog training instructor. She has been a volunteer Dog Training Assistant at Marin Humane for nearly a decade. For the past twenty years, Nancy has also served as a Puppy Socializer and Puppy Raiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind which gave her exposure to the critical importance of early training and socialization on creating a stable companion dog.
Nancy has 35 years of experience coaching people as a personal trainer and group exercise instructor. Passionate and inspiring, Nancy brings the skills she developed guiding people to reach their goals to the process of training dogs. Her focus is on developing and enriching the relationship people have with their dogs as the foundation for all training. Currently, Nancy teaches Beginning Puppy and Family Dog 1 through Family Dog 4.
Alissa Porter is an agility instructor and has competed in dog and horse sports since she was young. Her dog sport career started with a large enthusiastic golden retriever who needed a job to do. Since then, she has competed in both obedience and agility with her dogs. Alissa thought she was done with competitive dog sports, until she and her husband adopted a very energetic labradoodle named Oliver, and she knew he needed an outlet for all that extra energy, so off to the Marin Humane agility classes they went.
Alissa began teaching obedience and family dog classes for her local dog training club in Salt Lake City. She also worked as a Humane Educator for an Animal Control agency teaching dog safety and bite prevention to children and adults. She is excited to be teaching at an organization that also focuses on animal welfare with the ultimate goal of making all lives happy. Alissa specializes in teaching beginning agility teams the complex “art “of agility and breaking it down so every team is successful and has fun.
Paul Skelton, CBA I & II, is a dog class instructor with an expertise in both dogs and cats. She has a background in veterinary medicine, dog grooming and dog training. She has worked as a registered veterinary technician for more than 35 years and attended the SFSPCA’s well respected dog grooming school before pursuing her passion for rescue and rehabilitation in animal shelters. She has been teaching pet dog classes and making people and pets happy together for 15 years.
She has rescued and fostered many dogs and puppies over the years and for the past decade has taken a particular interest in feline behavior. In 10 years, Paula has rescued, tamed, and placed hundreds of rehabilitated feral kittens in new homes. Today, she shares her home with three small rescue dogs who are excellent canine ambassadors and share their home with many feline friends.
Dev Sperber became hooked on agility in 2013 after adopting a super high energy two-year-old Australian terrier. Jake needed a job and on the advice of a behaviorist, Dev signed him up for a beginning agility class at a local shelter. She realized how dog training can create clearer, deeper two-way communication between dogs and people. Within a couple of years, Jake evolved from being the class clown to successfully competing in the sport of agility.
Fast forward to 2020 and Dev’s passion for dog training and agility is greater than ever. She continues to expand her knowledge by attending seminars with top national and international agility handlers, but her most influential teachers continue to be the dogs in her life. In addition to teaching agility at Marin Humane during Covid-19’s SIP, Dev created OCEAN, an online class that teaches people how to develop better communication with their dogs so they can enjoy happier, more satisfying training experiences, improved performance, and a deeper connection.
She is currently competing at the masters/elite level with her Australian terrier, Lil, and her border collie, Takoda. Lil’s accomplishments include winning two national championship events, two regional events, and competing in the big distance division at NADAC Championships twice. Takoda’s career is off to a great start. He is currently competing at the regional and national level and has already achieved three championship titles.
In addition to being insanely passionate about dogs and dog training, Dev has had a successful international art career spanning 30+ years. www.devorahsperber.com
Annette Thomason has been training dogs since she was 15, when she dabbled in obedience and herding with her first Australian Shepherd. Annette and her second Aussie, Sydney, discovered agility in 2001 and she was quickly bitten by the bug and has enjoyed being a student of the sport ever since. She currently competes both locally and nationally in UKI, AKC, and USDAA with her border collie, Savvy, who is the best merlie girlie in the universe.
One of the things she loves most about agility is the incredible bond and partnership you create with your canine teammate. Annette loves training, attending seminars, and learning all she can about the best methods to use to train the behaviors needed to make them the most efficient team possible. Her focus is on the use of verbal cues in conjunction with motion and positional cues that helps teams create the fastest lines for the dog. When she is not obsessing about dog training and agility, Annette teaches high school chemistry at Montgomery High School in Santa Rosa.
Ali Vorhies, CBA I & II, is a professional trainer and dog behavior consultant. She teaches family dog obedience, Rally obedience and Nose Work classes with an emphasis on keeping training fun and practical for all involved. She was fortunate to have learned from some wonderful mentors and teachers early on in her career and continues to improve and expand her dog training and behavior knowledge through seminars, online education courses, and reading respected authors in the field.
Ali’s strength is in helping students and dogs develop a stronger relationship through respectful training and in finding positive new approaches to any behavior issue. A lifelong dog lover, Ali has trained and competed her own dogs in Rally Obedience, scent work, agility, and water performance sports, earning Rally Obedience Novice, NW2, and Apprentice Water Dog titles with her Portuguese water dog, Magic.
Marisa came to Marin Humane to train her most recent puppy and had so much fun she decided to stay. Marisa has lived with cats and dogs all her life, and currently shares her Novato home with Great Pyrenees Asha, motley mutt Bodie, three house cats, two career cats, a goat, a sheep, a flock of chickens, two children and her husband.
Marisa finds exploring the underlying causes and triggers of challenging animal behaviors and matching solutions to address them to be the most powerful tool in using positive training. She strives to make training fun for people and pups, and to maintain patience and a sense of humor. As a parent, she prioritizes building safe and positive relationships between children and pets.
Marisa has 20 years of experience in nonprofit marketing and communications, and holds a BA in English and Psychology from Northwestern University.
Beth Weil is the Feline Behavior Coordinator. She developed and teaches many of the classes and workshops Marin Humane offers for cat lovers. She draws on her background in Zoology and Biology from UC Davis in her role as shelter cat evaluator and private feline behavior consultant. Beth grew up with cats, dogs and horses but found her passion in cat rescue and behavior after her 20-year-old kitty passed away. She spent 10 years improving the lives of rescue cats before starting to volunteer at Marin Humane. In 2012, Beth retired from her role as an academic biology librarian at a University and joined the Marin Humane Behavior & Training team as the resident feline expert.
Beth specializes in improving people’s relationship with their cats. She firmly believes that training cats is a great way to improve the relationship between people and cats by helping them speak the same language. Her expertise runs the gamut but includes strategies and techniques for the most common feline problems including litter box issues, aggression and helping guardians understand a cat’s perspective when integrating a new dog into the house. She lives with two well trained kitties who will do high fives and don’t wake her up in the morning.