Our training staff is very professional and well versed in dog training and behavior. We are all clicker trainers and regularly attend seminars and workshops locally and across the country.
Morgan Katz, MS, KPA-CTP, Director of Behavior
Morgan Katz earned her Master of Science degree in Behavior Analysis at the University of North Texas. Her research interests included using touch as a reinforcer to teach shelter dogs behaviors that make them more adoptable, and treating problem behaviors related to aggression and separation anxiety. Morgan’s thesis research involved adapting a shaping procedure to teach fearful dogs in shelters to approach and interact with people. Morgan also graduated from the Karen Pryor Academy as a Certified Training Partner (KPA-CTP).
Morgan’s interest in animal behavior began when her first dog, Jerry, began to struggle with behaviors related to fear, aggression, and separation anxiety. Training with Jerry has been a constant motivation and inspiration to Morgan, and she continues to enjoy learning about using natural reinforcers to teach new behaviors. Morgan lives with her dogs Jerry, a German Shepherd mix, and Jase, a Pit Bull.
Calli Towne, MS, Training Coordinator
Calli has worked for the MSPCA at Nevins Farm since 1998 when she was hired as an animal caregiver. Over the years, her jobs for the MSPCA at Nevins Farm have changed until she started the Dog Training program in 2004. The program has grown ever since and is now supporting the training needs of the community with classes every day of the week as well as weekends.
Calli began training with her MSPCA alumni dog, Watson in 1999 at Gemini Dog Training in Littleton after he began to show behavior issues at home. They soon found a love for agility and competed in USDAA and NADAC trials until a back injury ended his career. Calli completed both Dogs of Course Instructor Training Courses: Teaching & Training and Consulting & Problem Solving. She has trained three other MSPCA alumni dogs: Abby, a senior Beagle and first adopted dog; Dexter, CGC, AD and Ollie, CGC. She competed with Dexter (AKA Dexi’s Midnight Runner) in USDAA and NADAC Agility trials and also did Canine Freestyle Drill work with him. Calli and Dex attended numerous continuing education seminars and workshops with some of the top trainers in the country including Kathy Sdao, Kay Laurence, Clicker Expo and Amy Herot and Jill-Marie O’Brien.
She shares her home with Ollie (MSPCA Nevins Farm Tibetan Terrier mix) and Sona (MSPCA Nevins Farm Silky Terrier Mix) a spouse and two sons.
Kathy Austin, KPA-CTP, CNWI, ATDI, Instructor
Kathy became interested in dog sports as a way to continue training her with reactive dog when traditional obedience classes were not the right fit. Kathy and Clancy trained in agility, rally obedience and Wag It Games and became involved in K9 Nose Work® shortly after the sport migrated to the East Coast in 2010. Kathy was immediately drawn to learn more about the activity and the sport. Clancy was the first Irish Terrier to earn Nose Work titles at levels NW1 through NW3, and Kathy is currently training her dog Pippi in K9 Nose Work®. They will begin competing in the fall of 2016.
In 2012, Kathy became a partner at Dogs’ Learning Center, and started assisting her instructor with K9 Nose Work® classes. She began instructing in 2013, and continues to learn about K9 Nose Work® through participation in competition, seminars, workshops, and camps. Kathy is a Certified Nose Work Instructor (CNWI) as well as a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner. “I love watching and learning from dogs as they do what they do best. It is pure joy for the dogs and for their people.” Kathy teaches K9 Nose Work classes from Introduction through Advanced Competition.
Nini Bloch, Instructor
Nini’s interest in dog training blossomed when she got her first Australian Shepherd in 1991, tasted obedience competition, and soon found a passion for dog agility. She became a founding member of the ARFF agility club in 1993. She not only has instructed basic obedience and agility but also became fascinated in the mid-’90s by the power of clicker training.
As a writer and editor, she started focusing on dog training and behavior and has edited such award-winning books as Control Unleashed, Shaping Success, and The Agility Advantage. That work has steeped her in clicker philosophy and sharpened her clicker skills. Nini feels fortunate to have arrived on the dog-training scene during a revolution in dog training methods and a vast increase in the popularity of dog sports. She is invested in helping owners succeed and strengthen their bonds with their dogs while having fun along the way.
Nini has competed in agility with four Aussies and designed and directed many of ARFF’s weekly practices. She is currently training with her Aussie, Ty, for agility competition. She instructs Basic Manners, Agility, Control Unleashed and Wag It Games classes.
Ruth Ellis, Instructor
Ruth Ellis has enjoyed competing with her Alaskan Malamutes in Weight Pull, Barn Hunt, Obedience and Rally as well as serving as therapy dogs for more than 30 years. Many of her dogs have been in the top 10 rankings in multiple venues for obedience, weight pull and rally. Ruth has been an World Cynosport Rally Limited (WCRL) judge since 2014. Ruth teaches Rally Obedience, Therapy Dog Prep, and Good Dog Games in our North Andover location.
Marion Long, KPT-CTP, Senior Instructor
Marion Long has been assisting Ruff Diamonds and Puppy Play & Learn classes since 2012. She is a graduate of Karen Pryor Academy and is a Certified Training Partner (KPA-CTP). Marion has done extensive training with the MSPCA shelter dogs as part of a specially trained group of volunteers called the Behavior Mod Squad. She also fosters shelter dogs and puppies in her home. Marion shares her home with two MSPCA alumni dogs, Heidi, a Beagle/Shepherd mix and Milo, a Chihuahua/Terrier mix. They take classes in agility and other canine sports together routinely. Marion teaches Ruff Diamonds, Puppy Play & Learn, Basic Manners and Social Dog classes.
Melissa McCue-McGrath, CPDT-KA, Senior Instructor
Melissa McCue-McGrath, CPDT-KA grew up in what she lovingly refers to as an “accidental dog sledding family in rural Maine.” She went on to get her Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology and moved to Boston where she discovered urban dogs and rural dogs have many things in common, but have different kinds of stressors which impact the way we train dogs in cities. As a result of those observations, she wrote the book “Considerations for the City Dog,” published in 2015 and is working on another book now addressing “the things they don’t teach you in dog training school” for people interested in working with animals. She is the current Co-Training Director of the New England Dog Training Club, the oldest AKC obedience club in the country and is one of the only disc dog teachers in the state. Melissa teaches daytime classes; Teen Puppy, Basic Manners and Intro to Dog Sports.
Darlene Woodward, Instructor
Darlene Woodward joined our training team in 2015. She is a CATCH Canine Trainer’s Academy Graduate. She is also a certified dog walker through Dog*Tec’s Dog Walking Academy and owner of Pant the Town Dog Walking and Running. Darlene continues her education through regularly attending seminars and workshops like Denise Mazzola’s Canine Behavior and Training Academy, an intensive 6 day training program working hands-on with shelter dogs. She also has a passion for photographing dogs and is currently working on a portfolio. She puts her talents to work photographing MSPCA dogs for adoption so they can look their best on our web site. Darlene shares her life with husband, Pete, and a high energy Siberian Husky mix named Kota. Darlene teaches Basic Manners and does Private Lessons.
Melissa Zilembo, CPDT-KA, Senior Instructor
Melissa joined the MSPCA dog training program in 2004, after completing the Animal Behavior College program. In 2007 she completed both Dogs of Course Instructor Training Courses: Teaching & Training and Consulting & Problem Solving. She has assisted and trained under some of the top Clicker Trainers in the industry and credits these experiences with improving her training and coaching skills, as well as her ability to plan, coordinate and manage group classes. Melissa is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a certification which requires her to continue her education by attending seminars and workshops regularly. Melissa is currently a Mentor Trainer for Catch Canine Trainers Academy. Her other experience includes: working as Head Trainer at a local dog daycare, coordinating dog playgroups, dog grooming and owning/operating her own pet sitting business. Melissa has been a certified American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Evaluator since 2006. In 2012, she became an American Federation of Aviculture Certified Avicuturalist, and is a coordinator for SOAR Birds, an organization which supports and assists adopters of shelter and rescue birds.
Melissa is also a Senior Exotic Bird Advocate and Bird Task force member at the MSPCA at Nevins Farm and has also been involved in the shelter’s foster program. She currently owns three dogs, two Parakeets, two Quaker Parrots, a Moluccan Cockatoo and three cockatiels. She and her Australian Shepherds have participated in agility, conformation, rally obedience, canine musical freestyle, drill team, nose work and obedience. Her current focus is on clicker training for dogs and birds, and in her spare time, she practices Usui Reiki for animals of all kinds. Melissa teaches Basic Manners, Beyond Manners, Canine Good Citizen Prep, Control Unleashed and Puppy Play & Learn classes.