SANDY MODELL, CPDT-KA
Founder/CEO, Head of Training, Canine Behavior Expert
Sandy’s work with DASH, its employees, its customers, and the community, taught her the importance of communication when it comes to bringing people together for a common cause. She believes communication is equally important in training dogs. Luckily, Sandy speaks both canine and human! When a Vizsla rescue named Brooklyn came into Sandy’s life and home many years ago, it set in motion her journey to becoming one of the area’s top positive trainers. Brooklyn was two years old and spent most of her life in an outdoor kennel. She had no prior training, no enrichment, and no socialization. Sandy knew she would need some professional help training this dog, who was pretty much out of control. Sandy sought the help of one of the few trainers around at the time, who, as she learned, used harsh training methods. Following her instincts, she knew there was a better way and discovered the world of positive training at a camp up in Vermont, which was just beginning to take hold in the dog training industry. She was hooked! For the next 23 years, Sandy has attended Camp Gone to the Dogs, learning from some of the pioneers and leaders of the positive training movement, including Patty Ruzzo, Leslie Nelson, Sue Sternberg, and others.
After training Brooklyn using positive methods, she moved on to helping others do the same. Sandy developed the only dog training group class program offered through the City of Alexandria Recreation Department and conducted private lessons in people’s homes on weekends and evenings. Through mostly word of mouth, more and more people began contacting her for help in training their dogs. DASH and DOGS have been Sandy’s two passions for a long time. In 2017, she retired from DASH to realize her dream of opening the Wholistic Hound Academy.
Today, Sandy continues her mission of empowering dog owners by teaching them how to communicate with their dogs, how to reinforce the behaviors that they want, and how to respond to both their dog’s good and the bad behaviors. Her goal is to teach people how to train their dogs to make incredibly brilliant choices, so that they can both live better, happier, and easier lives together.
For over 20 years, Sandy has been training dogs using rewards-based, positive reinforcement methods. She is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA), a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), a licensed certified Family Paws Parent Educator (FPPE), a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), and on the list of national Truly Dog-Friendly Trainers.
Named one of Alexandria’s Living Legends for her work in developing and leading DASH, the area’s award-winning transit system, Sandy brings this same commitment and devotion to her clients at Wholistic Hound Academy. While all good trainers love working with dogs, the best trainers have the people skills necessary to work with humans.
Office Operations Manager
Diann has been part of the Wholistic Hound Academy team since before the doors opened in May 2017. Diann comes to us with a life-long passion for animals and animal welfare, and spent several years working at various positions for a local animal shelter, during which she was nominated for two Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments awards. She is particularly proud of her contribution in working to establish the organization’s first Foster Program and serve as the first Foster Program Coordinator. Diann has also worked as an Animal Care Specialist and Consultant. She currently serves on the board of Friends of the Tsunami Animal-People Alliance. Her background includes work in the private, non-profit and public sectors with project development, office management, contracting and procurement, as well as event planning.
Diann is proud to work with a team of positive reinforcement trainers and the wonderful clients at the Academy. Diann and her husband Tom have shared their home with various species of shelter and rescue animals over the years. Currently they are owned by four cats, therefore Diann is excited to get her ‘dog fix’ at work every day!
Kathryn Kuhlen, CPDT-KSA, KPA CTP
Certified Professional Dog Trainer -- Knowledge & Skills Assessed (CPDT-KSA)
Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA CTP)
Certified Pro Dog Trainer (Absolute Dogs)
Certified FitPaws Master Trainer
Certified Wag It Games Tier 2 Instructor (WAG-CI)
Certified Trick Dog Instructor (CTDI)
Certified C.L.A.S.S. Instructor
Tag Teach Level 1 Primary Certification
Canine Good Citizen Evaluator
Competes with her two border collies, Watson and Darwin, who have earned titles in Agility, Rally-O, RallyFrEe, PFS Freestyle, Wag It Games, Trick Dog, and Parkour. Kathryn has raised and trained dogs for some 15 years, and has taught dog training since 2012. She has extensive dog sport experience, both working with her own dogs and introducing students to a variety of sport venues. Kathryn is a huge fan of games-based training to give dogs a foundation for sports and other enrichment activities they can play with their owners throughout their lives.
Tricia Lude, CPDT-KA, PMCT-2, CCUI
Senior Trainer and Agility Instructor
Tricia is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA), a Pat Miller Certified Trainer level 2 (PMCT-2), a Certified Control Unleashed Instructor (CCUI), and has completed Susan Friedman's Behaviorworks Learning and Living with Animals behavior analysis course. Tricia has also been a positive reinforcement based trainer for over 25 years. She has trained and competed in Obedience, Conformation, Dock Diving, Agility, and Nose Work earning numerous titles on all of her dogs. Tricia was a Volunteer Wilderness Search and Rescue Dog Handler and Trainer for Montgomery County Search and Rescue (MCSAR) in Alabama.
Growing up, there was never a time that her family was without at least two dogs. Her family rescued a German Shepherd when she was twelve which started her love of dog training after taking obedience classes with him. After working with one of her own Aussies who had significant anxiety issues, she also became very interested in canine behavior challenges. This led her to work closely with veterinary behaviorist Karen Overall with her own and clients’ dogs.
For the last 30 years, Tricia has also been a professional educator teaching children and adults of all ages. Tricia has completed four Pat Miller academies and attends numerous workshops, continuing education, and training in animal behavior, canine cognition, agility, and nose work. Tricia is dedicated to help clients build better relationships with their canine companions through positive force free methods.
Tricia currently lives with husband Cal, her Aussies Flurry and Skye, and her Border Collie, Slider.
Heidi Meinzer, CPDT-KA, CNWI
Heidi is a Cerified Nose Work Instructor (CNWI®) and trainer and teaches all levels of K-9 Nosework®, along with Levels Training, and other specialty classes in Northern Virginia. Her dog Boomer has his NW3 title in Nose Work, and he is also a Canine Good Citizen. When Heidi is not teaching people and their dogs, she focuses on animal law issues and helping companion animal owners and pet care companies as a private practice attorney in Old Town, Alexandria. Her firm is Meinzer Law (www.meinzerlaw.com). She serves on the Board of Directors of Homeward Trails Animal Rescue and the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies, and as the Chair of the Maryland State Bar Association’s Animal Law Section
Dolores Murray, CPDT-KA
Dolores Murray is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) and is a professional member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) and the Pet Professional Guild (PPG.)
Dolores is committed to providing the most effective and results oriented solutions for our clients and their dogs, She helps them to build a solid foundation of life skills and a relationship based on trust and cooperation. Dolores avidly pursues ongoing continuing education and professional development by attending several seminars per year with industry leaders and keeping current on training industry best practices. Dolores puts clients first and is well respected and referred to by local veterinarians. Dolores volunteers with local animal rescue groups and is a volunteer coordinator with Lu's Labs in Alexandria, Virginia.
Christine Yeannakis, CPDT-KA
Chris’ interest in dog training began in early 2010 when she adopted two young adult rescued dogs. Both needed training and help with behavior challenges. After lots of reading, viewing videos and volunteering for Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, Chris decided she wanted to become a certified dog trainer. In January 2014, she entered the apprentice trainer program at a local training center. Many hours of seminars, studying and observing later, Chris was hired as an assistant trainer. In the fall of 2017 she became a Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA).
After several years as a lead trainer with the organization where she trained, Chris became the “resident” trainer at a dog daycare facility. During the quarantine, Chris taught private lessons on her front lawn.
In June 2021, Chris joined the Wholistic Hound Academy staff. Recently, she successfully completed a service dog coach training program and is now a Certified Service Dog Coach.
In addition to dog training, Chris currently teaches psychology at Northern Virginia Community College. She has worked as an academic tutor, educational diagnostician and classroom teacher.
Nina Tingley, CPDT-KA
Born and raised in Stuttgart, Germany Nina grew up with a family dog since the age of 12.
In 2014, her and her husband adopted a one year old German Shepard-Collie Mix named Mickey, who had prior lived on the streets of Romania. Overwhelmed by all the triggers in Mickey’s new environment, his behavioral challenges soon made it necessary for Nina to reach out to the helping hands of a dog trainer.
As the positive reinforcement training progressed, it was incredible to see the changes in a dog who had to learn from scratch how to function in “the real world”.
The vision of helping other dogs to be at their best and assisting fellow dog owners to make this beautiful connection with their canine companions sparked the idea in Nina to become a dog trainer.
In 2016 Nina, husband Jim and Mickey moved to Alexandria, Virginia and it wasn’t until then, she followed her calling.
She became a volunteer at Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA) where she soon joined the “Behavior and Training” team and to this day works with dogs that show high arousal, or shy and fearful behavior.
Through a fellow volunteer Nina found her way to Wholistic Hound Academy (WHA) in July 2020 where she became part of the apprentice program.
Thanks to the experience and knowledge gained at WHA she managed to achieve professional certification by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) in April 2021.
Christopher Fedorchak, CPDT-KA
Christopher is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge-Assessed (CPDT-KA), a Pat Miller Certified Trainer (PMCT-1), and is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare at Virginia Tech. Christopher's first experience with animal behavior came when studying Biology at the College of William & Mary. After a short detour into the practice of law, he moved to Virginia and began volunteering in various roles for local animal rescues, including fostering dogs. He rediscovered a passion for animal training after adopting a fearful stray hound in 2017. Struggling with the behavioral challenges of his new dog, he reached out to one of the rescues for referrals to local trainers and behaviorists and assembled a wonderful team that guided him in making the world less scary for his hound. Amazed by the positive change in his dog, he was reminded of his earlier interest in animal behavior and set out to learn about current science-based training methods and how to apply that knowledge in everyday life with companion animals.
Christopher spends his free time studying, hiking, and pursuing Nose Work with his foxhound, George.
Kristen Healy, CPDT-KA
Fostering and acclimating countless rescue dogs to a ‘new leash on life’ propelled Kristen into training. Equipped with a soft heart and a science-based approach to developing mutual trust, respect, and results, her home became known as a safe harbor for dogs with severe challenges. Acutely aware that lack of training and behavioral issues are the primary reasons dogs find themselves rehomed or abandoned, Kristen committed herself to improving the lives of dogs (and their humans) through formal positive reinforcement training and education.
Kristen is scheduled to complete PMCT-1 in 2022. She is a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), and Westgrove PACK. Kristen has completed courses such as IAABC’s Canine Social Behavior Course, the School for the Dogs Professional Dog Trainer Certification Course, Ian Dunbar’s Professional Dog Trainer Program, and Pat Miller’s Shaping Workshop. Kristen found her way to WHA through the trainer she trusted to help with her own fearful and reactive dog – WHA Senior Trainer Dolores Murray. She continues to foster for multiple rescue organizations within the DMV area.
Kristen is a cybersecurity professional employed by the federal government and serves as a field artillery officer in the Virginia Army National Guard. She holds terminal degrees in the field of public administration and policy and is an Alexandria local.
Paul Johns, Ph.D., CPDT-KA
Growing up, Paul enjoyed playing with his friends' and neighbors' dogs but wasn't able to have his own dog until later in life. On February 14, 2020, Paul drove to Stuart, VA to pick up his first dog: a 10-week-old border collie puppy named Ria. Some people would think that getting a highly intelligent and energetic border collie puppy would be a bit of a challenge for an apartment-dwelling, single, first-time dog-owning, working professional—and they'd be right!
But having made new scientific discoveries while obtaining a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Notre Dame, Paul was used to tackling challenges. His educational background provided him with an ability to quickly and independently learn and acquire new knowledge and skills and teach those skills to others. He quickly became immersed in the world of dog training, learning as much as he could as fast as he could so that he could face these new challenges head-on. He is also starting to train his dog to compete in agility. Paul believes that learning concepts through games can inspire a dog to make great choices, build relationships, and transform a dog's struggles into its strengths. Games-based training avoids the use of force, intimidation, or deprivation.
Paul is an Absolute Dogs Training Academy and Agility Academy member. He hopes to join the Absolute Dogs Pro Dog Trainer program the next time registration is available.
William Pryor, CPDT-KA
Medically retired Air Force veteran, Will was always active since childhood, and always had quite an interest and admiration in animals, especially dogs. The home growing up always had a canine companion. Even though military life was his focus later, he always had a place and affinity for canines. Putting in hundreds of hours at the local Husky Rescue while going through Highschool, and being acknowledged as 'That Guy' when it came to quickly gaining a dog's trust.
During his 8 years of service he, unfortunately, it wasn't a good fit for him to get another four-legged friend. With such a high rate of deployment in his career field, he wasn't 'home' enough to support the decision of having one. Still, he found time to enjoy the opportunities he could, which included assisting in the care of the patrol and detection Malinois assigned to deployed locations. That only built up a bit of his own anticipation for when he finally found things more stable upon his exit in service. Acquiring his Dobermann Pinscher Roscoe, and immediately applying his education benefits towards establishing a career of his own revolving around dogs.
His years in the force, and life in general, oriented him towards Service, Protection, and especially Behavior modification work. To better establish a more positive relationship between people and dogs. The school he initially chose, however, still taught the harsher methods of training, which didn't sit well with Will or his goals. It led him to find a new place to learn, leaving him to stumble upon the Wholistic Hound Academy, which seemed a perfect match for his own ideals.