Susan B. Morris CPDT-KA
Sue has always loved dogs. Her interest in dog training started by accident when she rescued a beagle at her place of work that had been brought in for euthanasia, simply because he would not hunt. She brought him to classes at the local YMCA so they could learn to walk on leash and not pull her or her children.
From there she became interested in AKC obedience trials where she eventually competed at the highest levels . After her beagle, Ringer, passed away, Sue obtained a new golden retriever partner to train and compete with named Hunter who in Sue's words "made her look good in the obedience ring".
Working as a veterinary technician for 30 plus years, she learned much about animal behavior and how to bring about the best possible experience while working with animals that are nervous, in pain, or just unsure.
She is the mother of three grown children and a proud "Nonie "to four grandchildren. Sue has also authored a book titled Ringer based on her experiences while training her dog , that not only made him a better companion but helped her learn to be a better parent. Patience and consistency were key.
Sue's current companion, Rookie, is the great grandson to Hunter. Rookie is her service dog , and Sue says that having dogs has kept her active and allows her to remain independent. BoSox is joining the family soon to become Rookies' future successor as a service dog.
Johana Stewart CPDT-KA
Johana has 15 plus years of training experience working with shelters, rescues, and training facilities. She has taught family group dog classes, as well as individual private lessons for basic obedience and problem solving.
In her early 20’s, Johana developed a passion for teaching dogs and their humans to have the best possible relationships. When she became home to a Boxer puppy named Ellie, Johana discovered she was poorly bred and not well socialized. At 8 weeks old Ellie would snarl, growl, and snap at humans whom she deemed to be a threat to her resources. None the less, Johana decided that it was her responsibility to make sure Ellie had the best life possible. Through research, training, trial and error, and lots of time and patience, Ellie became a well-adjusted, confident dog and so sparked Johana’s passion for teaching dogs and humans to successfully cohabitate.
From there Johana moved on to shelter and rescue volunteering where she fostered and trained countless dogs in an effort to help them find forever homes. She then continued on her path to becoming a Certified Professional Dog Trainer.
Johana’s training style is based on a strong knowledge of learning theory, positive reinforcement, relationship building, and of course... having FUN! She is a firm believer that dogs want to learn from their humans. Teaching them the ropes of human life should be fun and enriching for the whole family. Johana is fully committed to the success of you and your dog.
Laurie Merritt MEd CPDT-KA CNWI ANWI
Laurie began training dogs in 1974, starting with her own Siberian Huskies. Initially Laurie's dogs competed in AKC obedience and conformation, earning numerous titles and often placing in the classes. More recently Laurie has enjoyed teaching and competing in freestyle and K9 Nose Work®. Nose Work® has proven to be the most interesting and thought provoking of the dog sports Laurie has committed to.
Laurie's current training partner, Darwin "Winiaken's Intelligent Design BN RN FD NW1" has proven to be a smart, eager, and patient teammate from whom Laurie has learned a great deal. While they dabble in K9 freestyle and obedience, their primary focus is Nose Work®.
Laurie has been involved in dog related activities and clubs for over 40 years. She has served in many capacities ranging from club officer positions in all breed and specialty clubs to trail crew boss for the Sandwich Notch 60 Sled Dog Race. Springfield KC has been grateful for her expertise as chairperson in both rally and obedience.
For more than 20 years, Laurie has been conducting dog training classes and providing in-home training and consults. She has worked for several obedience and all-breed clubs and has taught classes at two Massachusetts training centers. Classes included basic family dog, competition obedience, rally, breed handling, K9 freestyle and Nose Work®. During the past year, Laurie's students in both freestyle and Nose Work® have earned numerous titles, even though very few of them initially had any intention of competing.
Here's hoping everyone can find the magic of this sport and others offered at Paw Plaza
Due to Covid safety precautions, we have not resumed tours of our grounds. Some of our staff have not completed their vaccinations, and we cannot risk having additional exposure within the facility.
We sincerely appreciate your understanding.