Some of my fondest memories were spending time with my Grandpa while growing up in Houston. He lived in a small house with a tiny yard but it was all he needed. He kept his yard immaculate and I would sit on the old wooden back porch watching him push the worn out lawn mower until the grass was cut to perfection. Some days he and I were joined by Sandy, his blond cocker spaniel. He would take out his trusty old pocket knife and would cut a crisp red apple in perfect slices that we shared while we chatted. We spoke on everything from God to Dogs and we hung on each other’s word as though we had just solved the world’s problems. His love of life and nature, along with his appreciation of the simple things helped shape me into the person I am today.
When I wasn’t spending time with my Grandpa, I was usually in my backyard on my swing set reading to my dogs. They calmly laid under my feet as I would swing over them. Sometimes I would peek over my book and observe their behaviors when interacting with each other. I was fascinated with their every move and how the slightest movement of a paw would affect the behavior of the other dog. I had no idea I was learning to “speak dog” before I even realized dogs had their own language. So reading books and observing nature introduced a whole new world and my thoughts came to life.
How did my upbringing effect what I do for a living?
Since my childhood I have always had a love for animals and nature. Initially my work career consisted of various positions including working for Southwest Airlines. I met my wonderful husband, Mack, in high school and have enjoyed 37 years of marriage, still living the dream. Early in our marriage, I decided to pursue a career in dog training. Mack is such a supportive man and encourages my dreams and goals, so when I said I wanted to start a dog training business, he said go for it. I attended a dog training school and received my certification. The training practices back then were built around adverse training methods. I knew there had to be a better way so I began exploring alternative “positive training” methods.
Staying calm, watching and listening intently was a lesson my Grandpa taught me, simply by giving me his full attention. He would ask me questions that led me to find a solution. At the time I had no idea what a great gift he had given me. So I began using these traits to communicate with dogs. Observing dogs interact with each other taught me volumes about their behavior.
During the late 80’s, my husband took a position with Southwest Airlines based at their headquarters in Dallas, so we moved there. That was a good move for my career also. I became a certified trainer for a service dog organization, training rescue dogs to become service dogs for paraplegics, quadriplegics, and the hearing impaired. This was one of the most rewarding and learning experiences of my life. Learning the extensive training regiment required for service animals was truly an exceptional opportunity. One example was spending time with animal trainers at Sea World.
Through this organization, I also had the opportunity to discuss the value of service dogs on one of the local television morning shows in Dallas. That exposure opened doors where I met stylists who hired me to train dogs to model for national retail publications. That additional exposure stimulated my in- home training business where my clientele included Troy Aikman of the Dallas Cowboys and Mike Modano of the Dallas Stars.
I then wrote two children’s books about one of my Golden Retrievers. We then went on a book tour to schools, teaching children dog safety as well using the books’ stories to help them achieve their own accomplishments.
Today I continue to attend credited seminars on dog behavior and have exciting plans for my company Speakdog in 2014.
What brought us to Rockport?
Decades ago, Mack and I drove through Rockport and were so impressed with the windswept oaks. Then in 2000, we vacationed in Rockport with another couple. We had a marvelous time as everyone who visits Rockport does. The golfing, fishing, shopping, and memorable sunsets was captivating, so much that a few weeks later the other couple bought a home in the Rockport Country Club. Mack and I were not quite ready for that type of commitment but after several visits we realized this would be a great place to retire. So we purchased a lot and in 2004 had our home built.
After a couple of years of Holidays and long weekends in Rockport, we decided to relocate to our Rockport home. I moved my business here, joined the Chamber, and became involved in a variety of organizations and watched my business grow. As the business grew, so did my circle of friends and I was intrigued by so many and their lives and how we all ended up in Rockport. Mack took an early retirement offer from Southwest Airlines and now sells real estate here.
What are your passions?
Learning about the canine mind and cutting edge training techniques is my strongest passion that continues to grow. The Rockport community has been so supportive of my business Speakdog. There are so many dog owners here that have become great friends. It has been a pleasure to help them with their animal needs and I hope it continues since that is a passion of mine. I have also really enjoyed supporting the animal shelters in Rockport/Fulton the past couple of years.
Other than my passion for dogs and nature, we have traveled to so many locations around the world so traveling is also a passion. All being said, spending quality time with my very close friends are some of my most fulfilling moments. Certainly last but not least, sharing a great glass of wine with my husband and our dogs lying at our feet is pure joy and contentment.