This is US
Our ability to help other (people and dogs) succeed on their respective paths toward productive relationships, stems directly from the relationship we - four - share. Here is our story in a nutshell.
Interventionist, Educator & Trainer
I'm Liz. I am a dog trainer and animal-assisted interventionist with over twenty years' experience working with people, animals, and a combination thereof. I earned my A.S. in Assistance Dog Education (2013) and M.S. in Human-Canine Life Sciences (2017) from Bergin University of Canine Studies (https://www.berginu.edu/). I earned my B.S. in Behavioral Ecology & Cognitive Psychology from The Evergreen State College in 2001. I am currently working toward my M.A. in Counseling Psychology at National University, with the goal of becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist and licensed professional counselor. My fundamental goal is to help people and animals bring out the best in one another.
In 2013, I established Miracle Mutts -- the community outreach and therapy dog certification division of Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue, in Tehachapi, CA. In 2017, my dog(s) and I established the F.R.E.D. (Freedom, Recovery & Empowerment with Dogs) program with Kern County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services, through which we collected data on the efficacy of pet therapy in the treatment of substance use disorder and PTSD. I feel infinitely blessed to do the work I do, because it means I get to help people, have my animals with me, and at the same time fulfill their inherent needs to learn, work, and contribute.
Meet the Family
Fred was my original soul-mutt, whom I named after his spirit-twin, Mr. Rogers. For his first year of life, I raised and trained Fred as a service dog for a child with autism; simultaneously, he was my partner in establishing our therapy dog practice. When he was 14 months old, Fred went on to fulfill his professional role as a service dog; but after an arduous 2-year journey, it was determined that service work wasn't the best fit for Fred, at which point he was retired and became my forever dog. For the 18 months that followed, Fred and I lived and loved and worked and played together in bliss. In September of 2017, Fred was tragically taken from the physical world at just four years old. To this day, Fred's loving spirit guides the work we do and the help we provide to others.
Luca is Fred's nephew. Gifted to me as an eight week-old pup (just two weeks after Fred's death), Luca was my soul-saving grace as I mourned the earth-shattering loss of my beloved Fred. Like his Uncle before him, Luca (whose name means "bringer of light") is a natural-born healer. Luca has been a practicing professional therapy dog since he was just four months old. Luca's favorite activities (outside of work) include retrieving tennis balls, hiking, swimming in the pool or river, eating snacks, collecting sticks, and wrestling with his sister Emma.
I rescued Huckleberry off the street when she was approximately two months old. At the time of her rescue, she had a completely lame right front leg, which was amputated a few weeks later. This tiny-but-mighty girl is as happy as can be at home with her dog brother Luca and me! She enjoys snuggling, playing fly-catching games on the iPad, rolling around in the laundry basket, and wrestling with her catnip mouse. Huckleberry reminds us that, even with physical or emotional challenges, we can overcome!