Russ is a Karen Pryor Academy Graduate. KPA graduates participate in an extensive educational program culminating in a detailed assessment of their technical ability and hands-on skill teaching pet owners and training pet dogs.
Successful candidates must complete the program, earn the equivalent of an A on each component of the assessment, and pledge to uphold the high standards and practices of Karen Pryor Academy.
Russ has been a Region Coordinator for Guiding Eyes for the Blind (GEB), and has raised thirteen guide dogs for GEB. He has prepared new puppy-raisers for their first puppy and has taught weekly classes to the volunteer puppy-raisers until their dogs returned to the training school.
Russ is a retired social worker and has worked for over 25 years in the human services profession. As a therapist and clinical supervisor, he has provided services to people overcoming addictions and mental illness, and to those resolving family conflict. Russ's career has reinforced his belief in the resiliency of people and the power of positive relationships.
Growing up on a small farm in central New York, Russ has always been drawn to nature and relationships with animals. Russ learned to relate with animals in a calm, consistent, and rewarding manner while helping his father shepherd sheep and care for other livestock and companion animals.
Russ learned that working with animals is a sacred experience, that their needs come first, and that if you pay attention you learn a great deal about yourself in the process. Russ's concern for animals was advanced in his training as a bereavement counselor to assist families through the difficult time of the loss of a loved family pet.
Being a professional dog trainer is a natural integration of Russ's human service career, guide dog experience, and animal affinity.
Russ holds a MS in social work from Marywood University, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and a BS in education, with a major in outdoor recreation, from SUNY Cortland, Cortland, New York. He lives near Ithaca, New York, with his wife and offfice manager Beth, Toby a retired guide dog and therapy dog, Larkin a Great Dane, Zena the wonder cat and Pippin a Chihuahua
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