Job title and company: Owner of Animal Alliances LLC, 137-E Damon Road, Northampton
Your duties: I consult with pet owners experiencing behavior problems with their pets and offer dog training classes at my Damon Road facility.
How did you land your job? Following graduate school at the University of Massachusetts, I took a position with the MSPCA as its first animal behaviorist. After four years in this position, I left to open Animal Alliances. I closed the business here in western Massachusetts in 2007 to take a position teaching at Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine. When I left that position I returned to the Valley to reopen Animal Alliances. I opened the training school on Damon Road in July 2012.
What’s most challenging about your work? Although I am an animal behaviorist, most of what I do is work with people. It is my job to explain why the animal is doing what he/she is doing and to teach the human how to manage and modify the behavior. Training humans can be more challenging than training animals.
What do you like about your job? I love helping people understand their pets, and work to increase the human-animal bond whenever possible.
What is your key to success? Treating people with the compassion they deserve. Behavior problems in our pets can make us feel like failures. I try to explain to my human clients why their animals are displaying problematic behaviors and give them the confidence to move forward with a behavior-modification program to improve their pet’s behavior.
How do you feel the Valley economy will fare this year? The economy seems to be faring well here in the Valley — at least when it comes to spending money on our pets. People want to help their pets be polite members of society and seek me out to try to accomplish that goal.
Why did you choose to do business in the Valley? The Valley is where I choose to live for so many reasons, but I chose to open my business here because of the respect that most people in this area give to their pets. They are not property — they are members of the family.
Who has helped mentor you professionally? I have had many mentors over the years. They have been invaluable to me.
Name a few of your goals for the coming year? To increase enrollment in my classes. Training and good communication is the key to a healthy human-animal relationship.
Tell us a little-known fact about you: While I have trained many animal species over the years, especially during my seven years in the zoo field, I have five little pet goats that I have not trained to do a darn thing.
What is your advice for others seeking business success? They say that the customer is always right. That may not be the truth, but the customer is the key to your success, so treat them with respect.