It's 4 am and I've been wide awake for a couple of hours...my days are now made of 13 hours of running around between a stressful job, crazy traffic, a 13 year old boy, 2 dogs Buddy and Cooper (who is a Labrador puppy who chews everything in his sight…), our big cat Slater who thinks he’s a dog, and our 2 water turtles Rachel and Ryan, living in separate tanks and also needing their daily walk out of the tank! 22 years ago, I left the Ivory Coast, travelled the world and ended up in Miami with a Masters Degree in Chinese and a Bachelors' in English. My son was born and everything changed. A few years later, I fell in love with the emergency medical field, and worked my way up in Paramedic School."I can't do this anymore I keep thinking..."...all is dark and quiet around. Michael is sound asleep and my boys (Buddy, Cooper and Slater) are with us on the bed. I can hear the news fading in the background. "What am I doing???!!". You see, 22 years ago, I left my beloved city of Bouake in Ivory Coast. I was raised in West Africa. We had 25 horses living on our property, a Camel my mom had rescued, as well as a pet porcupine named "Punk", a Mongoose named "Rambo", a Goat "Fitini" and a few dogs and cats to complete the picture. Back then, my life was surrounded by life, animals, all different but all so similar in a certain way... I obtained my Horseback riding license to teach at 16 years old and when I was not in school, I was enrolled in Dressage and Jumping competitions, and helping my mom running our Equestrian club “Cavaliers de Bouake”. We had 25 horses living around our house, literally... Unfortunately, the civil war in Ivory Coast destroyed everything but we managed to get all of the 25 horses out, walking to the border of Burkina Faso along with our beloved stable boy Boukary. They all made it safe and ended up in renown equestrian clubs where horses are loved and taken care of. Our property moved down the road and has now become the most visited Hotel in the Ivory Coast, Hotel Mon Afrik. The horse stalls were converted into rooms and suites and all have the name of each and every one of the horses who lived there. That night, I was still working in the medical field but more oriented towards the insurance part of the business… and as challenging and rewarding as it was, I missed this “African” life. Today, and a few years later, I am a professional dog trainer. By professional I don't mean "better"... I mean "I make a living out of training dogs and educating their owners". That's all. Nothing pretentious or obnoxious. I’m not the best or the worst and try to never judge people, whether they agree with me or not. My main concern is the well being of dogs in their “human” family… My first certificate (I Speak Dog) was issued by Nikki Tudge and Angelica Steinker who are wonderful people and trying to revolutionize Dog Training by promoting a Force Free and Science Based approach to the world. Linda Nico, my good friend and trainer introduced me to Dr. Ian Dunbar, Emily Larlham, Patricia O’Connell, Ken Ramirez, James O’Heare, Karen Pryor, Shirag Patel, Karen Overall and a few other excellent references. All force free, with very high standards and undeniable qualities.
My methods are based on science and proven facts. I despise the term “Alpha”, and dread ANY forceful techniques of training. Top Dogs Day Training is a Force Free, Pain Free, Fear Free organization, based on the POSITIVE aspects of training ONLY. I belong to the PPG (Pet Professional Guide- http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/- ) and have sworn that I would never use aversive methods and or accessories in the process of training dogs. Therefore, you will never see me using Choke, Prong, or Shock Collars. I there’s a video with any of these on our website, it will be to demonstrate the detrimental effects they always cause in dogs.I work and train mainly on my own but also with Performance Pups Inc (Owned by my good friends and trainers Sally Saxton and Neil Hennessey), where I’m a trainer/attendant at the Lake. Aside from the Obedience classes I give there, it has allowed me to observe hundreds of dogs interacting with each other, and I have become fascinated with Body Language. Hours and hours or practice have given me the ability to recognize the warning signs of a possible “altercation”, the necessity to “break” a play that’s escalating, and even the times I can reassure a worried owner, and let him know that it’s “all play” and there’s no harm intended- and I have to say…. It’s PRICELESS. Neil and Sally are with PPG and the Dog Smith of Broward- , and have given me a lot of support and encouragement these past few months and definitely play a huge part in my ability to continue this venture.
Last but not least, if I had to name one person who played a HUGE role in my life and allowed me to switch careers, it would be Linda Nico and her “pack”. She has taught me so much and shared everything she had learned from her experience, managing a household of a pretty colorful pack of dog-dog reactive/dog-people reactive. She is also the President of Ruff Dogs Foundation- and choose me to be the secretary of this wonderful enterprise.