TRAINER BIOS

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Lenore Vizzone

I've been a member of K9 OTC since 1998, having served two terms as President.  I am presently a member of the Training Committee and teach classes for K9 and for other clubs. My professional career in dogs started in 1974 when I opened Lenore’s Canine Clippery, a grooming salon. I also offered obedience training.  I started professionally showing my Borzoi in 1984 in breed competition and then decided to show in competition obedience in 1989 with my first collie, Gus. Fella was my second and I had the greatest honor when he was invited two years in a row to the National Obedience Invitational.  Trey was my next obedience dog. I'm presently showing Cyrano and Jekyll. All of these dogs are blue merle collies.

 

I've put numerous titles on each dog, including titles from Obedience, Rally, and Conformation in both AKC, UKC, and CDSP. We're working on herding and tracking titles.  I have over 43 years of collective experience in training and handling dogs. I enjoy sharing my knowledge with novice trainers and sincerely try my best to help them attain their personal goals with their own dogs. My training philosophy is to find the best way to HAVE FUN while teaching your dog what he/she needs to know.

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Barbara Heesemann

     I started dog training at the age of 5, teaching tricks to the family dog. 

My first blue ribbon was earned in 1990 with my Golden Retriever, Dusti. I learned to be a dog trainer first at a boarding kennel where under the guidance of more experienced trainers I trained boarding dogs of various breeds. I then began taking competition training classes with Martha McCluskey of Flying W Dog Obedience and attended Bob Self’s summer school for dog trainers. 

    I now continue to compete, but have accomplished two Obedience Trial Champions, earned two invitations to the National Obedience Invitation, and was invited to and competed in the inaugural Obedience event at Westminister Kennel Club.

    I have had 4 different dogs that have earned the Highest Score Dog in a regular trial award and 2 dogs earning High Combined awards over a dozen times. I am also an AKC breeder of record limited times; however, I take great pride in being the breeder of a Master Hunter, Master Agility Champion, and an Outstanding Dam. I received the AKC medallion for Breeder, Owner, Champion and have dabbled in Rally and Hunt test achieving entry awards and cannot wait to title in dock diving.

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Joni Primas

     I discovered the world of obedience when I happened across an obedience trial in East Orange NJ, early in 1979.  Even though I had a reasonably well-behaved pet, I had never seen the likes of obedience competition and I was immediately hooked.  Lady, my puppy mill collie, and I joined The K-9 Obedience Training Club in April of that year and the rest, as they say, is history.  Lady earned her CD in June of 1980 and she died in July of that year of a brain tumor. Since then, I have matured as a trainer and my collies and I have earned many obedience and rally titles.  I have also dabbled in breed showing, but my first love is obedience.

    My association with K-9 OTC has also matured over the years.  I went from wide-eyed novice, to Secretary of the club, to Board member, to President, and finally to Training Director.

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Diane Kramer

My love affair with dog training began in 1993 when I moved to Wayne, NJ with my husband Art and son Chris and we acquired our first dog; a Rottweiler we named Molli.

 

Barbara Nagy of Patience Unlimited was our first trainer, whom I credit with both starting me off on the right foot with Molli and introducing me to the larger world of obedience training.   In the following years, Molli earned her AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC), Companion Dog (CD), and Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) degrees.  She also participated in Agility and Tracking.

 

Much of my progress with Molli was made possible by my membership in K-9 OTC, and my ongoing association with Patience Unlimited, with whom I understudied and eventually taught group classes and provided in-home private training and kennel training at Hal Wheeler’s.  I have also had the good fortune to train under some of America’s top obedience trainers, including Jack & Wendy Volhard and Martha McCluskey of Flying W Dog Training.

 

Today, I am a Certified Canine Good Citizen (CGC) and STAR Puppy Evaluator. I teach and assist in all classes offered by K-9 OTC and work hard at training my own Labs for Obedience, Rally, Agility, and Field trials. Over the years, my dogs have earned Utility Dog Excellent (UDX), Obedience Master (OM), Rally Master (RM), multiple Agility titles, and Junior Hunt (JH) Titles. They have also earned multiple High in Trial (HIT) awards. In addition, my Labs also have Trick Dog titles and are certified Therapy Dogs with Bright & Beautiful Therapy Dogs.   

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Lynn Samsky

Dogs and their behavior have always been my passion. At 8 years old, I rescued my first puppy, Tipper, from a local shelter. Having no idea how to train, the library was my first educational resource for teaching dog obedience and tricks. I still have the fondest memories of reading the instructions for each one and patiently repeating them over and over with her. Several years later, I joined the 4-H Dog Club of Union County. We entered many obedience competitions. 

 

At the age of 14, I apprenticed at a dog grooming salon until I opened my own shop where I worked for 42 years. At 16, I adopted my first German Shepherd, Joy, whom I entered in AKC obedience trials where she earned her CD title. 

 

To further my education and be in an environment that I loved, I volunteered at a no-kill shelter for about six years. I groomed all of the rescues preparing them for adoption and provided free in-home obedience to ensure the adoption was a success. I worked briefly at a boarding kennel that specialized in obedience and protection work. Opportunity knocked when I was offered a position at a veterinarian's office to assist with X-rays, surgeries, and proper restraint techniques. That medical education still serves me well today.

 

Over the years, I have had 9 dogs (5 German Shepherds and 4 mixed breeds) and have re-homed countless strays. Currently, I have 2 German Shepherds who have both titled multiple times in AKC events:  CGC, CD, RN, RA, RE, TKN, TKI, and TKA.   Mikayla has appeared in 11 television shows and 2 movies; she is in two of the trailers. Diamond has appeared in one television show.

Five years ago I joined the Essex County K-9 club where it is now my privilege to continue learning, teach obedience classes and share my knowledge with fellow dog lovers. Looking forward to meeting you and your best friend.

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Mary Gallagher

Assistant Trainer

I stood outside a ring at the first dog show I attended and thought “This looks easy. My dogs could do this.” I quickly learned I was a bit naïve. 

 

This was my introduction to dog obedience. Marianna West, a dear late K-9er, was a volunteer in the hospital department where I worked. When I shared with Marianna my family expanded when two one-year-old Great Pyrenees, neither had ever been in a house, on a leash, were delivered by a wonderful breeder to my yard, Marianna suggested I might want to investigate obedience training. I listened to Marianna’s advice and began attending classes at K-9.

 

I quickly learned Great Pyrenees do not often exhibit in obedience trials. The breed is very independent, do not understand repetition, and live up to the reputation of being selective listeners. To earn a title, your dog needs to come when you call it. Often in trials, unfortunately, my dogs have lived up to their reputation. 

 

Exhibiting in Obedience Trials has been challenging but I am proud of my dogs. My female, Alicia Keys, was named Great Pyrenees Obedience Dog of the Year in 2019 and my male, Batman, shared the top scoring Rally Great Pyrenees of the Year in 2019. We are proving Great Pyrenees are trainable. 

 

Earning titles is something we strive for but there are other benefits to training. When I walk my Pyrs in my neighborhood, fellow dog owners often comment on how my Pyrs are so well-behaved. My dogs are also certified therapy dogs. This certification would not have been possible to earn without ongoing training. Dogs are special – they uniquely connect with our treasured seniors as well as young autistic children. It is a gift to share our dogs’ specialness with special populations.

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Joanne Kent

Assistant Trainer

A dog lover forever, and a dog owner most of my life, I was constantly admonished by my mother for petting every stray dog I saw on the street.

 

While I trained my own dogs to be good house pets, I became interested in training other dogs when I started a dog walking business over 15 years ago as a second career. It was then that I found myself having to teach all types of dogs how to walk on a leash; this to make the hours of daily walking enjoyable and safe, instead of a nightmare and dangerous.

In 2008 when I got Voltaire, my third German Shepherd Dog at eight weeks old, I immediately started taking him to various training classes. It was during this time that I became intrigued with how much more Voltaire and I learned, and what a powerful bond we formed in the process. Soon I learned about dog obedience training competitions, and that started a passion. In 2013 I came upon K-9 OTC. And there, under the tutelage of some of the most experienced, decorated, and patient trainers, my passion became a love affair. I joined the wonderful K-9 OTC family, earned several Rally titles and a CD on Voltaire, joined the Board of directors, and then became the president. Now, I also have Matisse, whom I have been training for competition since I brought him home.

  

Happy training and I look forward to meeting you and helping you and your furry friend enjoy training with us at K-9 OTC.