the alpha.

thoughts on:

being vegan
exercise
my dogs
organization
stuff i love
volunteering

Stuff You Don’t Know About Me:

avocado & coffee

I once applied to clown school but was rejected due to inadequate tumbling experience.
I have bungee jumped…naked
I had never had coffee until I was 29 yrs. old. Now? it’s a daily thing
I eat the same thing for breakfast everyday. 1 whole wheat English muffin, 3oz braised tofu, 1 oz avocado, sliced tomato. Yes…everyday!

hello!

My name is angi, I am the owner of tails and lucky enough to be working my passion. Every day, I get out of bed and am excited to go to work. I read once, “you know what your passion is if you can think back to what you were doing when you were 4 yrs. old” What was I doing? Dressing up neighborhood dogs, having parades and puppy parties. Animals have always been my passion, for as long as I can remember. I have loved all animals. As I grew up it was clear I had a special connection to animals, especially dogs. I always felt I had a connection to them, something special, like a secret language only we knew.

During a high school assembly, my class was visited by a veterinarian on career day. I was in awe of her. As soon as I graduated in 1989 I began schooling to become a Veterinary Technician. I was also working at a local dog kennel, that boarded dogs and taught obedience classes. My skills were clear to the owners, at that time, and I was asked to be an assistant to the other dogs trainers. I was so happy. Cleaning up after and playing with dogs during the day, helping with training them at night… pure bliss. I learned all I could from these trainers, assisting with every class I could…soaking up all they had to offer me.
After graduating from Veterinary Technician School and getting my license for Washington State, I began a more professional route with animals and began managing a veterinary practice. I was really starting to come into my own now. Connecting with clients, hands on with the animals and leadership with staff. This went along for a while, all still working as an assistant dog trainer. One day I was informed the dog trainer I was an assistant to had broken her leg and I was asked if I could teach the class. Excited and scared but eager to please, I jumped at the chance. That night 6 out of the 7 clients in that class asked when I was teaching next, as they wanted to join my classes. From that day forward I was teaching my own classes.

al·pha

noun \ˈal-fə\
1. first letter of the Greek alphabet
2. anything that is first in a group of like things
3. in mammalian social groups, the leader of a particular group. In dogs, this role is transitory and temporary, and may change several times in a day according to the activity of a given group. In humans, this role is usually more stable. In both cases, the strongest leaders are those acknowledged by the choice of their followers; the weakest leaders are those who rule by coercion or force.

This was the early 1990’s and like all trainers who have been around for more that 20 years, we taught only “old school” corrective training. That is all any of us knew. I always felt there could be more, but I did not know what that would be. One day I was starting a puppy class and a sweet 13 week old Golden Retriever named Jasper came bounding into my class. He loved me, I represented all fun things in his life. I taught the class, as I always did… with corrective training techniques. The 2nd week he casually walked into class, he gave me a kiss but he clearly was not as impressed with me as the week before. The 3rd week, he walked into the class and saw me and turned to leave. I now represented something to him he wanted nothing to do with. Right then, right there I knew there had to be a better way. I did not know what that way was, but I knew I had to find a way to train dogs without punishment or harsh training methods. At that moment I had all the clients take off their dogs leashes and drop them to the floor, and stopped all corrections from that moment on I knew I had to change.
The next day I approached the owners of the business, telling them of my situation. I told them I could no longer use the methods they wanted me to teach and they let me know they had no desire to want to change, so as difficult as it was I left that training center. I began to teach classes privately, one on one, in the park, at the veterinary office, at the animal shelter… wherever I could. In 1997 I left private practice as a veterinary technician and started Tails-A-Wagging. This is also when I found Ian Dunbar and his methods of training. Finally someone who knew there could be so much more with our relationship to dogs. I worked his methods and began to adapt them to make new classes. I could now take all the knowledge and skills I had, my passion for dogs and combine all the services I wanted to, in Bellingham.

thoughts on…

Food For Thought

being vegan

Food for Thought
Jason and I became vegetarian around 2001 and vegan in 2006. For us, it has always been about the animals. I feel that compassion is the basis of a person’s integrity, and I know I would never want to suffer and therefore do not want someone else to suffer for my pleasure. It’s not that we gave up eating animals because we did not like the taste of them, we did it because we did not want them to suffer. I look at all animals as the same, why would I eat a pig, wear a cow and love a dog? For me, the decision was clear. I can’t take care of them during the day and put them on my menu at night. Tails-A-Wagging became vegan in 2007. We belong to the Animal Place Food for Thought Campaign and provide only vegan food and treats to the dogs while they are at day care, as well as vegan food at our meetings, parties and events. Although Jason does most of the cooking in our house, we are known for sharing recipes and food as well as veganizing a recipe (Jason’s Vegan Almond Joy Candy Bars are AMAZING). If you want to learn more about vegetarianism, check out this starter kit. It’s great information on everything from going meatless once day a week to becoming a vegan.

exercise

I am a walker and runner. My dogs are small, so running with them is more difficult (even though we all have short legs!) but I do enjoy running about 3 days a week. I like to run charity races for animal welfare organizations as well.

my dogs

My dogs are my life. I think we chose certain breeds based on our own personality. And in reality… I am a Chihuahua. I am small, but mighty. I am silly, but serious. I like to control the situation around me and get a bit crazy if I can’t. I am often a bit misunderstood and am very direct. If you asked my staff, I am sure they would all say there’s a lot of border collie in me too! See my dogs.

organization

A place for everything and everything in its place. I love order in all things in my life. I am a list lover (ok it’s the crossing off on my list that I love) Caring for dogs puts a big kink into order, I often say its controlled chaos. The dogs bring a level of unpredictability to the table and I like that… I like bringing order and predictability to their lives. Oh and yes, I am all about the label maker! I know, you might find it silly but give me a drawer to clean and organize and I am one happy girl. Did you know, if there is a label on it you are 66% more likely to return something to its place! Nothing left in my house to organize…so I often get in trouble wanting to organize my friends and families stuff.

stuff I love

Movies and Television: I work a lot of hours, when I am not at Tails or walking my dogs or home veggin’ out… t.v. is a release for both Jason and myself and we enjoy the escape from time to time. My favorite shows are: True Blood, Nurse Jackie, Being Human, The Walking Dead, Modern Family, Park and Recreation. I am not super crazy for the reality shows… BUT I do love myself some Parking Wars. Movies: I’ll admit, since becoming vegan we do not go to the movies as much as we used to (come on Regal Cinema… let’s get some buttery vegan popcorn!). I am a big library user and get 100% of our DVD’s from the library. I love horror and drama the most.
Gardening: I started gardening out of necessity. I am a very frugal person and I wanted to eat organically but struggled with the cost of it. Jason and I (and our dogs) now have a large enough garden that we can eat form it for the main source of our food June to October. I am not the best canner, so our overflow goes to Tails clients.

Volunteering

I feel it’s a necessity in life, especially for small business owners. We have been so successful and owe so much to our community, I owe it to Bellingham to give back. I choose to donate my time and resources to organizations that I think make a difference in the lives of animals.

Whatcom Humane Society:
I have been a volunteer since 1998. I was the President of the board of directors for a 3 year term and now choose to donate time and Tails-A-Wagging services to the organization. We provide day care, training classes, behavioral evaluations and try to do whatever is asked of us for them.

Friends For Life Canine Scholarship Fund:
I began this non profit in 2010, with the financial support of local donations and the Lochland Foundation. We provide reward based training and cover medical costs for low income families and their pets. Tails-A-Wagging donated office and computer space as well as volunteer location. I am the lead volunteer and president of the board of directors.

Friends for Life

WeSNIP:
I have been a volunteer with WeSNIP since 2010. My focus now it their tri annual garage sale. I help out with sorting and put it about 8 hours a week.

Pigs Peace:
When you stop eating animals, you can’t help but help those who have been rescued from the food industry. Pigs Peace is a beautiful sanctuary in Stanwood where these former factory farmed pigs can live out their lives in peace. They also have a vegan grocery store in Seattle …can you say “chocolate covered twinkie” OMG

Farm Sanctuary:
Animals used for food can find refuge here, in peace to live their lives without the fear of dying for someone’s dinner.

Brigadoon Service Dogs:
Tails-A-Wagging donates all puppy classes, socialization classes, basic pre service dog training to all of their puppies raisers.

Furbaby Rescue:
As a primary volunteer, foster home and adoption advocate for the organization, I assist in rescuing/fostering and placing small dogs in their forever home.

Sean Humphrey House:
We provide free day care and training for their resident’s dogs. The organization is amazing for our community and caring for their dogs is a simple way we can help them. Compassion for all.