Wholistic Hound Academy Team
SANDY MODELL, CPDT-KA
Founder and CEO, 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!
Kim Keleher, CPDT-KA, PMCT
Day Academy Director and Lead Trainer
Kim Keleher grew up with a variety of dogs in Alexandria. She has always loved dogs, but didn’t have her own until she was an adult and her parents gave her a beautiful Doberman Pinscher.
Kim continued to have a growing interest in dog behavior. In 2012, she began volunteering at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA), to learn more and to give back to the community. This work made her realize that she had a real passion for dog training, and teaching humans how to work and play with their dogs to build a positive relationship.
To that end, Kim started studying with renowned trainer, author and behavior consultant Pat Miller at Peaceable Paws Academy in Fairplay, MD. She has completed three academies and is a Pat Miller Certified Trainer. She is also a member of The Pet Professional Guild and The Association of Professional Dog Trainers. When Wholistic Hound Academy opened, Kim signed up for a class with her dog. She then went on to become one of the Academy's first apprentices. Kim is currently teaching Puppy Grade School and assists Sandy with some of her classes, private lessons, and developing and expanding the curriculum.
Kim is committed to force free, fear free, and pain free training.
Kim lives in Alexandria, Virginia. with Tom Rust and their Doberman Dempsey.
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.
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
Competes with her two border collies, Watson and Darwin, who have earned titles in Agility, Cyber 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 and other enrichment activities that owners and their dogs can happily play together throughout their lives.
Tricia Lude, CPDT-KA, PMCT
Senior Trainer and Agility Instructor
Tricia is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA), a Pat Miller Certified Trainer (PMCT), and is a reward based trainer for over 20 years. She has trained and competed in Obedience, Conformation, Dock Diving, Agility, and Nose Work. Tricia has worked as a Volunteer Wilderness Search and Rescue Dog Handler and Trainer for Montgomery County Search and Rescue (MCSAR) in Alabama. She has earned numerous titles on all of her dogs. She has been training dogs since Middle School. For the last 30 years, she has also been a professional educator. Tricia has completed three Pat Miller academies and numerous workshops and continuing education and training in Agility and Nose Work.
Tricia currently lives with husband Cal, her Aussie Flurry, and her Border Collie Slider.
Bill got started in agility when his wife brought home a timid rescue-mix named Amber. While attending agility classes with his wife and Amber, he developed a deep love for the sport. In 2012, he started training his own puppy Titan in agility. Bill and Titan advanced quickly through the ranks, qualifying to compete at the national level in AKC, USDAA and UKI before Titan turned five years old. In 2015, Bill and Titan were selected as alternates for AKC’s European Open team and in 2016 took third place at AKC’s National Agility Championship in the 26” height class.
While Bill enjoys competing in a variety of venues, his real passion is for International handling and studying different handling techniques. He is currently training to become a One Mind Dogs Instructor and loves the “ah-ha” moments he gets when Titan teaches him new things. Bill would love to share what he has learned from Titan with you.
United States World Agility Team Member & Agility Instructor
Six Time World Team Member Tracy Hirsch has been actively involved in the sport of Agility since 2002, collecting numerous Regional & International medals throughout her career. She has successfully competed in Agility with a variety of dogs of all shapes, sizes and temperaments. Tracy shares her passion for agility with her nine dogs…seven Border Collies, a 7 pound North Carolina Bug Chaser and the most adorable Border Staffy you’ll ever meet.
In the competition ring, her runs are noted for accuracy, consistency and speed! In addition to holding numerous high level titles, Tracy and her canine teammates have earned multiple wins and placements at local, regional, national and international events. Tracy is an experienced trainer who can build drive and focus, think quickly on her feet and handle fast dogs. She is a highly energetic and enthusiastic individual who teaches in a clear and simplified manner. Tracy uses positive reinforcement, games, and shaping to build winning behaviors in dogs while teaching their handlers to be consistent and positive. She emphasizes teamwork, consistency, handling skills and most importantly, fun for both handler and dog. In addition, Tracy has extensive experience teaching private lessons, local classes, and seminars throughout the US.
Come have lots of fun, get energized, and leave excited and ready to play with your dog in the incredible sport we call Agility.
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
Peggy Bowers, CPDT-KA, PMCT-2
Peggy Bowers has always been a devoted animal lover, starting at age two with her first dog Snuffy, a German Shepherd. After adopting two wonderful dogs Sunny and Bailey in 2001 and 2003, respectively, Peggy started volunteering with the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation (LDR) in 2005 as a foster and later as the LDR Puppy Foster Coordinator and an Adoption Counselor. As a foster specializing in pregnant and nursing dogs, Peggy and her husband successfully raised over 500 puppies in their home, many with their mothers. All are now in permanent, loving homes.
Peggy has always trained dogs informally, although the thought of studying and making it a career had not really been an objective. In 2014, after a long and successful career in horticulture and landscape design, she decided to commit to her love of dogs with a career change to training dogs professionally, using positive methods. After much study and research on positive training methods and its benefits, Peggy chose to study under world-renowned trainer, author and behavior consultant Pat Miller at Peaceable Paws Academy in Fairplay, MD. Having successfully completed 5 academies – including aggression and advanced behavioral modification – Peggy earned her Pat Miller Trainer Certification – PMCT 2. She is a Peaceable Paws Affiliate, and is a Professional Member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, The Pet Professional Guild, the Association of Force Free Professional Trainers. Peggy is committed to understanding the science behind animal behavior, and staying informed on the most current force-free training techniques, ideas and scientific research.
Peggy and her husband David live in Alexandria, VA, in harmony with 3 rescue dogs (Bailey, Gable and Acorn – 2 cats (Nimbus and Beaner) and various foster dogs and puppies parading through from time to time.
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Pricing and services subject to change without notice.