If you're a dog owner, it might make you feel better to know that even the best dog trainer is sometimes powerless against the lure of the squirrel.
Casey Newton, owner and founder of Wonder Puppy, is easily one of the most accomplished dog trainers in the city. Yet one day recently she found herself unable to recall her own dog when he took off after one of those bushy-tailed, canine-vexing devil spawn.
As annoying as the situation was, Casey says what made it completely mortifying is that one of her clients happened to be there at the park at the same time.
"[My dog] was totally blowing me off, and here I am, a dog trainer!" she laughs. "But even a trainer's dog isn't perfect."
That dog is Jackson, the Border Collie/Aussie mix she adopted from a rescue at 10 weeks. He's now 10 years old, and has been with Casey from the beginning of Wonder Puppy, a pet parenting center that specializes in training dogs two years of age and under.
"I saw that so many new dog parents needed more support, and they just didn't have it," Casey explains. "It was kind of a risk, but I decided to go with it, and it's been wonderful."
She's been taking risks that pay off since she was very young. At 7, Casey got her first dog, a German Shepherd named Sadie, as a gift from her father. That didn't sit well with mom, who told Casey that she'd have to prove she could handle the dog if she wanted to keep it. "My proudest moment was coming home to my mom and slapping down the first place blue ribbon from training class," Casey remembers. "I won out of a class of 14 adults!"
Many other proud moments have followed, including a recent stint as the set trainer for a Portlandia episode. "It was the 'Treat Your Lover Like You Treat Your Dog' one. It's one of my all-time favorite jobs I've ever done," she says.
And more television work is on the horizon for Casey: this time in front of the camera as one of the hosts of a series called "Animal House". The reality show, which is currently being shopped around to various networks, involves building new, state-of-the-art facilities for struggling shelters around the country.
"It's actually like "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," Casey explains. "But instead of 'build me a house', it's 'build us a shelter'. And we'll come and build it within 3 to 7 days."
It's a project she's working on with the help of her boyfriend Clay Graham, a television writer based in Los Angeles. She met him when he called Wonder Puppy looking for help with his border collie/dalmatian mix who was bouncing off the walls (and if you know dogs, that's probably not a surprise).
"Three and a half years later, when he decided to move, that's when we decided to start dating," Casey laughs.
Starting next month, Casey will be joining Clay in southern California half-time, where she hopes to open another Wonder Puppy location. She's also developing a dog-training iPhone app, a series of companion videos, and this November will be heading to Chile to speak about dog training."I don't stop, I can't hold still really," says Casey. "I want to make a difference."
Even with so much going on, you never get the sense that Casey is anything but centered. That may have something to do with the fact that she spends much of her downtime doing yoga and meditating. "I have to replenish," she says. "The more you take care of yourself, [the more] you're able to hear the needs of others and to care for others."
Hearing the needs of others is important to this passionate, intuitive woman who is fascinated with spiritual psychology--but whose choice of shoe is decidedly down to earth: a pair of vintage 1955 Wrangler boots. "They are unique, they're kinda cute, and they're really versatile," Casey says at first.
Then with a flash of insight, she confides, "Actually, I think one of the reasons I love them so much is because when I was a little girl I wanted to be a cowgirl."
About our Sponsor
Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years. In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance, this year Dec. 9th at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare. Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood.
Michele Coppola is a Portland-based air personality for 99.5 The Wolf and copywriter for Entercom Radio. When she's not talking, writing, or pursuing quality couch time with husband Bryon and their dogs, Cindy and Lucy, she's also a proud volunteer for Fences for Fido and Family Dogs New Life Shelter.