Riley’s Angels began after the loss of Riley, Lesley’s first therapy dog. For years, they had visited nursing homes together, where Lesley had witnessed the amazing impact Riley had on residents. To honor Riley and the work she did, Lesley started training therapy dogs to work in hospice and began to research the human-canine bond to substantiate the anecdotal effects she observed (lower blood pressure, less pain meds required, etc.). She then adopted Grace and Chance, who passed all of their certifications at 10 months, and spent their careers working in hospice, with veterans, and in local schools (reading programs). It should be noted that Chance was born deaf, so Lesley learned and then taught him sign language (ASL). Chance was an especially gifted therapy dog and together they used Chance’s unique gifts to minister to special-needs children.
Lesley has trained hospice therapy dogs for 10 years. Her formal education, an EMBA (emphasis in Servant Leadership) and MEd (concentration in Adult Learning Theory) supports her role in Riley’s Angels (let’s face it, effective dog training is as much about teaching people as it is dogs). She earned a certificate in Animal Assisted Therapy from the University of New Hampshire, her CPDT-KA certification and is an evaluator for several AKC programs, including S.T.A.R. Puppy, Canine Good Citizen, CGC Advanced, and CGC Urban. She is also an evaluator for the AKC Temperament Test and for all levels of Trick Dog certification and a member of the Association for Professional Dog Trainers (APDT).
As a current doctoral student in Education, Stacey has devoted much of her research to supporting the power of the human-canine bond, specifically identifying proven benefits (both mental and physical) of regular canine interaction. Working with and training therapy dogs for 10 years, Stacey has developed training techniques that have been successful both in the pet and therapy dog world. Officially obtaining her CPDT-KA title (Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed) in 2019, she has begun taking on service dog training as well. Stacey specializes in early/puppy training by utilizing evidence based training techniques to develop well-rounded dogs. Utilizing Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) in her clinical role as a licensed mental health counselor, she has significant experience working with dogs to benefit those in need. Other experience includes obedience, conformation, and agility dog training and is an evaluator for several AKC programs, including S.T.A.R. Puppy, Canine Good Citizen, CGC Advanced, and CGC Urban. Stacey is a member of the Association for Professional Dog Trainers (APDT).