MEET OUR DOG TRAINER INSTRUCTORS | THE DOG WIZARD ACADEMY
Gretchen Hollifield Ewers
I have been training dog for 20 years now. I always knew that I wanted to work with dogs for a living, but I had no idea what kind of a roller coaster I was in for when I started this journey. First, after graduating from college, I decided to try a more “traditional” career choice but realized really quickly that I was miserable in the office setting. I needed to be with dogs and outside preferably. So, I decided to go back to school to become a dog trainer.
After graduation, I realized really quickly that I loved being a dog trainer, but I only made just above minimum wage, which was hard to live and pay bills without having another job. So I spent the next 6 years figuring out the ins and outs of what worked and what did not, which programs were most rewarding, and what produced the happiest clients, and of course what produced the happiest dogs. Once all this was figured out….I started The Dog Wizard in 2005 and never looked back. I finally felt like I had a career instead of a job. I also felt like I had a future that I could plan by and prepare for retirement one day. As a result of this journey, I figured out that there was a void with existing dog trainer’s schools that teach aspiring dog trainers how do what they love without sacrificing their career, income, freedom, and happiness. SO, I started the Dog Wizard Academy to fill this void and help future dog trainers live the dream that I have been living for the past 7 years!
After pursuing her initial dream of becoming a lawyer, Danielle realized in her second year of law school that the quality of her everyday life would have to come from doing something in her every day work life which was both challenging as an art, and fulfilling in its ability to truly impact the lives of others. Taking after her father, who always seemed to possess an extraordinary connection with animals, Danielle began pursuing her interests in dog training. In May of 2009, Danielle began working with paws4people, a non-profit whose mission is to train and place service dogs with children with physical disabilities and veterans suffering from both the physical and psychological traumas incurred in the line of duty. Upon seeing the dramatic and potentially life-saving impact that these service dogs have on people’s lives, there was no question in Danielle’s mind that this was the career path she was meant to take in life. Danielle is certified in Canine Obedience Training and she is also a Certified Assistance Dog Trainer. Her work with paws4people led her to study and work with The Dog Wizard in Charlotte, NC which is a perfect fit for her diverse range of experience as a dog trainer. Since training dogs is only half of the equation, and communicating that information to the dog owners is the second part, Danielle has found that her gift for being articulate and detail oriented in her ability to communicate with others serves her well. This a great skill to be able to pass along to future franchisees. According to Danielle, improving the lives of the people whose dogs she trains and the dogs’ lives themselves, seems to be the formula for improving her own life as well!
Emily obtained a unique start to the dog-training world. She started out as a kennel cleaner and worked her butt off soaking as much knowledge as one can soak. Over time she began climbing the ladder through The Dog Wizard, learning little intricate bits and pieces along the way. She accepted every challenge with great resolve and grew into an unbelievable dog trainer. While climbing the tall ladder, Emily gained extensive experience working in the office at The Dog Wizard, giving her a unique more customer service perspective to the dog training business. The Dog Wizard Academy is lucky to have Emily on the team because of her experience from kennel cleaner to franchise owner -this is a great person to teach new trainers and franchisees. She demonstrated that anyone who has the passion for dogs and determination can do it. Emily also enjoys instructing a lot of the specialty classes. In addition, she validated her love for challenges by adopting and training a deaf cattle dog, Mayhem, who she now uses to demonstrate obedience to potential clients. Teaching a dog that cannot hear how to follow directions is very impressive to clients that have dogs who can hear and don’t follow directions :).
Corey’s pre-dog-training life was similar to a lot of dog trainers, wishing he had more time to spend with his dogs. Training his dogs after work became the highlight of his day and soon friends and family were asking him for help and advice. That’s when he knew that becoming a dog trainer was the path for him. Corey attended NK9 with his German Shepherd, Aliko. Here he learned Basic and Advanced Obedience, Tracking, Socialization, Behavior Modification, Police K9, Scent Detection, and Search and Rescue work. He applied to work at The Dog Wizard because he appreciated the business model and wanted to learn more from a long standing company. Fast forward 3 years later, and Corey has become an intricate part of the Charlotte Dog Wizard as well as the Academy. His extensive and extra work on aggression has set him apart as a trainer and changed many lives in the process (both human and dog). He has a wealth of knowledge to pass along to the franchisees. Corey’s three assistants are Aliko, Nahla, and Seiko which turn heads everywhere they go having such awesome obedience. Nahla is a certified Therapy Dog. Corey says he chose these breeds to help break the stereotypes about aggressive behavior in German Shepherd’s, Rottweiler’s, and Akita’s. He has achieved his goal by raising three well-socialized canine companions.
#1 and Most Important Assistant in the World
Lorrayne has been with The Dog Wizard from almost the very beginning back in 2006. She started out a client that needed help with a dog she rescued that had been beaten by some teenagers. Charlie had lost an eye in the traumatic event and was extremely nervous and unsure. Luckily, he was rescued by one of the biggest animal lovers on the planet, and he is now a very fun loving goofy happy beagle mix. Lorrayne used to be the first voice everyone heard when they called The Dog Wizard but these days she works as Gretchen's assistant helping run things at the Academy. We stole her from the music business, as she is an awesome musician (ask her to sing). Her work ethic is amazing along with her wacky humor! And her accent certainly doesn’t hurt either. A smart, funny, English-Irish, Vegan animal rights activist, is how we describe Lorrayne. She resides with 2 dogs, 2 cats, 3 rats, 2 children, and a husband too.
Amy is a recent transplant to Charlotte, and The Dog Wizard is very lucky to have her on the team! Amy has a very important role with being the first point of contact for Dog Wizard clients. She helps manage the day-to-day needs, phone calls, and appointments which she does flawlessly. The best part about her job is not only getting to talk with clients about their dogs but also having her rescue mutt, Winston, hang out with her all day! We would be lost without her.
Noelle has been part of The Dog Wizard family since she started her path as a trainer in Charleston SC in 2012. After 5 years in the Lowcountry and 4 years of helping dogs and their owners to have a better life, it was time to get back to her roots in New Jersey. It was a tough decision not to be hands on with owners and their dogs but now as the office manager she gets to continue to be part of the wizard family and clients lives! Her first hand knowledge of the training side adds a huge benefit to the day to day operations in the office. It helps us be more efficient, creating processes to help better our clients experience as she understands our clients needs that much more! Whether you are a first time caller or a current client, Noelle’s passion for canine’s and their people exudes from the moment you start talking to her. She has an unending love for her three dogs Lexi, Trinity and her newest addition Huckleberry as well as the man that stands by her side, Evan. Noelle is focusing on field trial obedience with Huckleberry and has the pleasure of frequenting the river with the dogs and exploring the beautiful trails and landscape of The Garden State.