The purpose of joining the website is to help obtain start-up funding for our business, The PAWSitively Balanced K-9, established in 2004. I have not been able to obtain bank financing due to the economy (so the banks have stated on several occasions). I have been saving money but I have not been able to meet my goal by myself so I have decided to reach out and ask for help. Any little bit helps towards our goal. The bank stated that if we put together a portion of the money, they will match us with loans. Please consider donating to our cause and help our dreams come true.
About Shari-Ann Murphy:
As a child, I always knew I would end up working with animals. My original interest was to become a veterinarian to help animals in medical need. Back in the 1970s-1980s, that was all that was really available as far as schooling. As I got older, I realized that there was a greater need for the emotional and behavioral end of the spectrum. I set out to learn as much as I could about dog behavior.
When I first started out, the internet wasn’t main stream. As a matter of fact, trying to find books or articles on dog behavior was difficult. Without other’s insights, working with animals was difficult! As the years went by, my knowledge grew and things got easier for me. Resources became more available and my learning accelerated. Getting hands on experience allowed for my knowledge to sky rocket. I found myself drawn to dogs and their problems, kind of a kinship.
In December of 2004, a little boy came into my world and changed my entire outlook and direction of my life. His name is Louie. He was a 4 ½ year old Teddy Bear Pomeranian. This little guy was just terrified of the world. Together, we set out on this remarkable journey through tears, anxiety (both him and I!), love, and a lot of laughter. We became two halves of the same whole. I saved his life and he returned the favor to me and saved mine. Louie is now 14 and through all the medical issues he has had, he is still going strong. He lives for me and I live for him. Together, we live for helping others.
As the years go by, we end up with dogs in our lives that touch us so deeply that they change our lives for the better. In 2009 I had another one enter my life. He was a German Shepherd Dog that I named Chance. Chance was 8 ½ years old and had severe dog aggression, separation anxiety, wasn’t socialized, with anxiety that I’ve never experienced before. Through persistence and positive reinforcement, he turned himself around 100%. All I needed were hot dogs and a clicker! Chance became the poster boy for dog-dog aggression rehabilitation. No one could believe how much he had changed and how eager he was to learn. Chance taught me about the dark side of a dog’s behavior and taught me some valuable lessons about what humans have the capability of creating. When everyone else gave up on him, someone had the sense to tie him to my porch in the middle of the night. Chance passed away at the age of 11 from cancer. It was devastating to my pack and my family. We still have not recovered from the loss. He was a fantastic companion and a goof ball!
In the last 5 years, I have become the aggression specialist, especially when it comes to German Shepherd Dogs and all of the bully breeds. I love them all. I don’t believe in bad dogs. I believe that dogs are misunderstood and 99% of them can be helped. I don’t care what breed you have, there is a great chance that if you do the work, you can turn your dog around. Sometimes humans need education and sometimes they just need to be shown how to handle a situation appropriately.
I have been working in the retail environment for years now. I am there teaching basic obedience and touching as many lives as I possibly can. I can only do so much in that situation. I have been doing home appointments for the last 5 years, working with the cases that can’t be handled or replicated in that type of location. The politics in that type of environment is not conducive to helping as many people as I would like.
For the last 4 years, I have been trying to find a location that I can open my own rehabilitation center. One that is based on Positive Reinforcement training that will not use adverse methods to rehabilitate dogs. There is nothing wrong with adverse methods, but my own personal methodology doesn’t believe in using devices that can cause emotional harm to an animal. This is not a rescue, but a training facility. I want to specialize in those dogs that need help understanding that the world is not as scary as they think it is. I want to help their humans understand why these behaviors happen and how to help their dog change the way they view the world. I want to help all those other “Chance” dogs out there that are in need of direction.
This is my life’s work. I am a trainer, through and through. Dog training is not a job to me, it’s a lifestyle. I live dog and wouldn’t change that for the world. I feel the need to help people and their dogs so deeply that it has become the fiber of my being.
Many of the dogs in shelters or rescue organizations have been given up due to behaviors that can be resolved with a strong training foundation. Many of these dogs were purchased or adopted based on their looks and not their ability to fit in with the family who has adopted or purchased them. I believe that education for the humans is just as, if not more important that education for the dogs. We would like to offer community seminars to educate the people who will be adopting or purchasing a dog in the near future. A real "how to" in picking the right breed for you.
My Goals are to open a training facility that offers basic to advanced obedience classes, while specializing in reactive dog classes and private sessions for those dogs that have more advanced aggression issues. I would also like have daycare and boarding for my student’s dogs. I want this to be a one stop shop for all your behavioral needs. I am not looking to mirror any person you may see on T.V. As a matter of fact, I don’t watch those shows. I just do things my way, the way I have discovered. I have proven results and I never give up. With my friend Devon Smith, the sky is the limit. We are both very motivated and very dedicated to the cause. Please take the time to read Devon’s biography and get to know her as well.
About Devon Smith:
Hello! My name is Devon Smith and I am one of the instructors for the PAWSitively Balanced K-9. I got my start in 2008 when my business partner Shari-Ann Murphy approached me and told me I would make a great trainer. Honestly I was skeptical at first. I had always loved animals. I was the kid who brought home every species of animal I could find, and begged my parents to let me keep them. I didn't have a lot of experience with dogs. I had dogs growing up, and lived around them, but I had never before thought about training them.
The dogs we had growing up were never really bad dogs, but many times they would escape through the fence, or we would have to chase them around the park after they slipped their collar. More times than I can count, we had a shoe or slipper destroyed in our living room and my brother and I had to clean up all the evidence before my parents came home. We spend our childhood hiding evidence of their bad behaviors!
They jumped on us when we got home, pulled on the leash, and they had so much energy it was hard to keep up with them. If we had a training instructor with our dogs, we never would have gotten rid of them. For as great as they were, they were just too much for us to handle, and so my parents made the hard decisions and were labeled the bad guys for a long time.
I'm sure you can understand, when Shari approached me and suggested I try training, I thought about the dogs I've had in the past and I almost laughed at her. But I didn't. Instead I watched her training classes. I saw the things that she did with her students. Saw the relationships she helped them build with their pets and I was instantly hooked. I spent some time talking with her students, getting to know them, and I learned very quickly that not only were their dogs well behaved, they were also happy.
I shadowed her for a while before I took the plunge and I have never looked back since. Before I became an obedience instructor, I didn't know what I wanted in life. I jumped from part-time job to part-time job just trying to find something I could tolerate doing. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else.
When I began teaching on my own, I was teaching an average of eight group classes a week, (an average of five dogs per class!) as well as private lessons to accommodate dogs that either needed a little one on one attention, or who's families couldn't commit to the time constraints of group classes. In 2010 I began adding home appointments to my lineup, and I was able to add two more group classes to my weekly schedule. I am able to offer, not only obedience classes for the basics, but also numerous specialized classes, like advanced work, or trick classes. I have work with dogs that are afraid of other dogs or people and through my private lessons helped them cope with that fear, and become confident enough to join group classes!
My goal is to give my students the tools they need to make their pets as perfect (or imperfect) as they want them to be. I want my students to have the confidence and knowledge they need to communicate with their pets.
The relationship I've built with my own dog, that came with a lot of behavioral issues as a private rescue, and seeing my students have breakthroughs with their own pets makes all the effort worth it. My dog Teddy, an American Eskimo Dog, is part of my family. He is eager to work, and loves training. When I first adopted him he didn't want to do anything for me. I learned how to work with him instead of against him, and I teach my students how to do the same with their own dogs.
I've seen so many dogs end up in shelters, or surrendered because of a lack of training. A dog that barks too much, or jumps on people can seem like a lot to handle. In reality once you teach them a new way to express themselves you'll find that they are happy to oblige.
I never want to see any kids go through what my brother and I went through as kids. As an adult I understand why my parents made the choice they did. But as a child it was hard to see things their way. I want children to understand that dogs are family, and everyone needs to help train them.
I have a great sense with kids, and I encourage them to attend my classes so I can help them see firsthand why training is so important. I think dogs need to learn with the children to help them both understand how to work well together. We encourage the distractions that the children pose, and I can help you work with your dog, in the way that best suits your family. My style of training is tailored to fit your dog, and his needs. My goal, as a trainer, is ultimately to see you reach your goals as a dog owner, and be there with you every step of the way guiding you and aiding you on your journey.