CATCH brings you an amazing team of dog lovers, trainers, and behavior experts from all over the country. Our Program Directors and Student Support staff are knowledgeable and friendly. Meet some of the wonderful people you’ll be speaking with and learning from!
David Muriello, CPDT-KA, SDC
David is the head writer, instructor, and founder of our curriculum and guiding principles. He loves teaching, teamwork and nature and is fascinated by the human-animal connection. You can read more about David’s goals and vision here.
Rebecca Price, Student Support Team Manager
Rebecca’s passionate love for animals and her dedication to customer service make her a natural leader on our Student Support Team. Her huge positive impact on the CATCH community has been felt from the moment she started back in 2012.
Before joining CATCH, Rebecca enjoyed a successful career in pet care and management as a General Manager at Petco Animal Supplies for 7 years. There she led a staff of over 20, plus the dog training and grooming departments. Rebecca gained certifications in dog care, dog nutrition, cat care, cat nutrition, plus avian, reptile, aquatic, and small animal care. Her high standards for pet care and strong dedication to her team helped drive her store to become the fastest growing in the district.
Rebecca’s life has revolved around animals since a young age. She grew up working with horses, from competitive riding in dressage and show jumping, to reconditioning ex-racers for new homes as pleasure horses. She went on to work for a well-known dressage trainer and studied Equine Science at Centenary College where she competed on the intercollegiate dressage team.
When she is not making our students and team members smile, Rebecca enjoys spending her time outdoors with Cisco, her mixed breed rescue dog. Cisco came into her life by chance as a stray on a last chance list at a kill shelter. With only a picture to go on, she adopted him from several states away, and it was the best decision she ever made! Cisco has been her four-legged best friend for over a decade, and they continue to grow and learn together every day. In addition to Cisco, Rebecca shares her home with Bubble and Squeak – 2 very large and happy goldfish.
Kelly Chludzinski, Program Director Team Manager
Kelly holds a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science from Rutgers University. While in school, she spent several years raising service dogs for The Seeing Eye, which sparked her interest in dog training as a career. Shanna, a German Shepherd Kelly raised as potential for the Seeing Eye instead became her pet and the best demo dog any trainer ever had! While working on her degree, Kelly focused on horses as well as dogs, running exercise physiology studies and training horses at a nearby boarding stable, which allowed her to understand animal behavior in many different contexts. Kelly has been a writer for the CATCH curriculum and the Association of Professional Dog Trainers magazine, Chronicle of the Dog. She has also been a speaker on dog behavior at the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters Conference.
Before joining the team at CATCH, Kelly worked as a Mentor Trainer at Petco, teaching aspiring trainers while building up her independent client base. She is experienced with both group classes and private lessons, covering puppy to adult obedience and behavior modification for problem solving. Kelly also has experience training dogs in another interesting context, teaching Border Collies to use their herding instincts for a geese-clearing company.
Curriculum and Program Development
Catherine Comden – Program Development Lead
Catherine Comden brings a wide range of industry experiences to our team. She was a veterinary technician, the first behavior tech at Purdue University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, a therapy dog trainer and handler, a trainer of hearing alert and service dogs, and a behavior program manager at a busy, open-admissions shelter. Catherine is a pet dog trainer and behavior counselor specializing in aggression, separation anxiety and puppies. She has instructed families with small children, adults in custody and psychiatric patients to successfully train dogs for many purposes.
Catherine’s interest in dogs and training began as a youth, raising multiple guide dog puppies and assisting her mother, a regional trainer for a statewide volunteer search and rescue (SAR) dog training organization. Catherine jokes, “My parents kept dropping me off in the woods, but the dogs kept bringing me home.” Catherine’s father was a competitive police dog handler and started the K9 program at his department. Catherine and her dogs have competed successfully in obedience, conformation and agility.
Catherine enjoys research, writing, and teaching as much as she does dog training. She has earned a BA in Psychology from the University of Montana, where, as a McNair Scholar, she completed research on the effect of a therapy dog training program on the human-canine bond. At Western Oregon University, she studied adult education with an emphasis in information technology. She has been an instructional designer, a business advisor, and a homeschooling mom.
Catherine teaches pro dog trainers as well as dog owners. She has coached hundreds of trainers to pass their CPDT-KA exam and she also enjoys teaching trainers how to maximize their coaching skills. She is passionate about the human-canine bond and is thrilled to help CATCH students develop skills for both ends of the leash.
Virginia Dare – Curriculum Writer
Virginia has been training as a professional since 1991. Her current business, North Star Canines, provides private training services and behavior consultations, covering county areas of Fairfield (CT), Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess (NY).
Virginia was a faculty member of Clicker Expo for six years, as well as a seminar presenter throughout the US and overseas. Virginia co-produced the Bow Wow series of clicker training DVDs, which are sold worldwide. The DVD, How of Bow Wow, won the Maxwell Award for best DVD in 2004.
One of the most meaningful leadership roles Virginia had in the past was as head trainer with Pixie’s PenPals. This pet/prison program paired shelter dogs with inmates for training before being adopted to the public, and she worked at five prisons over the course of eight years. Virginia has also worked as a trainer and evaluator for a therapy dog organization, and done a bit of service dog training.
As a life-long learner, Virginia’s continuing education includes workshops, conferences and webinars as often as possible, as well as plenty of reading to stay on top of the latest research in the field. Virginia is a certified training partner (CTP) with the Karen Pryor Academy. She also completed Dr. Susan Friedman’s in-depth applied behavior analysis course and has a Level 2 certification in TAGteach.
Virginia’s own dogs have been involved in animal acting, herding, agility, and pet therapy visits. Some of the breeds she shared her life with include: Rhodesian ridgebacks, border collies, miniature pinschers, papillons, German shepherds, a cattle dog, a chihuahua, and many fabulous mixed breeds of colorful heritage. Virginia has also owned and loved many pet rodents, as well as cats and ducks.
Veronica Sanchez – Curriculum Writer
Veronica has degrees in education, psychology, dog training and behavior consulting certifications and over 20 years professional experience helping pet owners train their dogs and puppies. Her experience ranges from training dogs for service work, therapy work and competition, to educating health care professionals, law-enforcement canine handlers and pet dog trainers. She is the founder of Cooperative Paws Service Dog Coach, a certificate program for professional dog trainers in service dog coaching.
Veronica splits her time between her two passions: educating professionals about service dogs, and working with owners and their dogs. She has trained service dogs for a wide range of needs including mobility, hearing, neurological problems and a dual guide-mobility dog.
Her interest in the fields of service work is both personal and professional. Veronica has a progressive neurological movement disorder called dystonia and trained her own dogs as service dogs. Veronica lives with her husband and their collies in Northern Virginia. She is a native of the Washington DC area and previously worked as a public school teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools.
Veronica is a CPDT-KA, a Certified Dog and Cat Behavior Consultant through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), a full member of Animal Assisted Intervention International (AAI), and is a former Vice President and founder of the division on Working Animals for the IAABC.
Veronica also often speaks and writes on service dogs for professional associations and provides continuing education for professional pet dog trainers through the APDT, the Chronicle of the Dog, and the PPG.
Dot Baisly – Curriculum Writer
Brooklyn, New York
Dot Baisley holds a Masters degree in behavioral biology from Tufts University and is currently the Behavior and Enrichment Coordinator at the SPCA of Westchester, a large shelter in New York. She is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA), a Certified C.L.A.S.S. evaluator and a Certified Canine Good Citizen (C.G.C) evaluator.
Rescue is near and dear to Dot’s heart and since 1999 she has worked for many different shelters and rescue organizations. Today when not working at the SPCA, Dot concentrates her efforts with UnderDog ResQ, a great network of foster homes, where she sits on the Board of Directors. She is also a field representative for Paws With A Cause, a service dog organization that places dogs nationally.
Before moving to New York in late 2011, Dot worked and lived in Boston where she owned and operated her own private training business for many years. She also volunteered on the board of directors of the Mass Animal Coalition’s Pit Bull Spay/Neuter Task Force.
Dot’s training methods are derived from her medical and scientific background along with practical hands on experience from working with hundreds of owners, dogs and families. Her interest in animal behavior began as a teenager when she adopted her first dog, Rowan. He proved to be the largest challenge she has ever faced due to severe medical and aggression issues, which they worked through for over 12 years. Her knowledge of behavior is complemented by her strong medical knowledge gained while working as veterinary technician for many years.
When not concentrating on her professional life, Dot shares her time with her two cats Mazzy and Morrigan, her husband Alan and their dog, Chunk. Chunk is a very calm, cool, and collected dog. He accompanies Dot when she is working with leash reactive dogs and when working for Paws With A Cause.
Elizabeth Meyers – Curriculum Writer
Grand Rapids, Michigan
As an ADI Certified Service and Hearing Dog Instructor, Elizabeth manages and custom trains dogs for individuals with physical disabilities. This requires advanced knowledge of various disabilities and how they affect individuals in their daily living as well as advanced knowledge of learning theory and behavior modification. Beth’s training style is science-based, and her methodology is constantly adapted to the needs and strengths of the individual client as well as the dog.
Beth spent 12 years in the field of veterinary medicine before deciding to focus on animal behavior. She has been a professional trainer for 10 years, specializing in Assistance Dogs for people with disabilities and is accredited by Assistance Dogs International.
Beth is currently in charge of recruiting and training new Assistance Dog Trainers across the country for Paws With A Cause, a national non-profit that custom trains Assistance Dogs. Her goal is to provide safe and well-prepared assistance dogs to people with disabilities and, in the process, create mutually beneficial relationships between humans and their canine helpers. Working with a large organization has given her unique access to a much greater number of dogs (and people) than the average community dog trainer ever would, and has given her the valuable opportunity to follow the dogs’ progress after her time with them is complete.
Beth lives with her three children, five dogs, two cats and a horse in southwest Michigan. In addition to her work with Assistance dogs and their trainers, she continues to work with pet owners in both private and group settings.
Julie Buesser – Curriculum Writer
Julie Buesser was elected to the Board of Directors for the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers in 2013. She is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) as well as a generous and devoted leader in the service dog field. With over ten years of experience raising and training service dogs for people with disabilities, she understands how to instill a strong foundation for good behavior and teach complicated tasks to boot. A CPDT since 2006, Julie served on a committee for the Certification Exam Item Review Session and helped develop and evaluate test questions for the CPDT.
Julie has a BA (Loyola University Chicago), BS (Columbia University NY) and is currently working on a MS in Nursing (Loyola University Chicago). She is an AKC Certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator with personal experience in AKC Obedience, Agility, Rally-O, Pet Therapy, and Search & Rescue. She has also been trained by the NYC ASPCA behavior department in many different capacities, and she served as a Dog Captain for 5 years helping design training programs for new volunteers, and training and evaluating volunteers to work with shelter dogs. While at the ASPCA, Julie developed and led a book club for ASPCA volunteers to read and discuss animal behavior, not to mention countless hours working with the dogs at the ASPCA.
Since 2007, Julie has worked as a Field Representative for Paws With A Cause where she helps Assistance Dog Clients through placement of their service dogs, certifications, and behavior problem-solving. She leads training classes for the volunteer puppy raisers and the puppies they are raising to become Assistance dogs, and she raises and trains foster puppies herself.
Julie spent 3 years working with members of the PA and MD FEMA disaster search and rescue dogs, and trained a dog through practical agility standards including directionals and air-scenting recognition of live human scent. She has also held a position as a mentor trainer for Petco stores throughout NYC to train upcoming apprentice trainers, as well as leading classes at Biscuits & Bath in NYC for basic obedience, agility, and off-leash/advanced classes.
Kim Downing – Curriculum Writer
Kim is the published author of Animal Planet Dogs 101: German Shepherd Dog, which was a finalist for the 2011 Maxwell Medallion for Excellence from the Dog Writers Association of America. She is a CPDT-KA and a Professional member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), as well as a member of the German Shepherd Dog Club of America (GSDCA).
Kim’s training background includes evaluating shelter dogs for potential working careers with US Customs, as well as training service dogs with the organization Paws for Freedom based in Overland Park, Kansas. This organization specializes in training dogs for service dog careers as mobility assistants.
Kim grew up with German Shepherds in a dog showing family and has been training professionally since 2005. She combined her love of dogs and her training skills to offer group classes and instruction to the public in 3 locations, with a focus on multiple levels of manners and obedience work as well as the AKC Canine Good Citizen program. In addition to group classes, she also offers private training and behavior consultations.
Kim graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelors degree in Journalism and is now a member of the Dog Writers Association of America. In addition to her recent nationally recognized book, she has written articles and reports for clients all over the world that focus on creating and maintaining positive training relationships with dogs. When she is not writing about her dogs, Kim currently enjoys training them in obedience, rally, agility, and tracking!