I’m Danelle Kelly, and I’ve been pretty much obsessed with dog training since 1988, when I bought my first dog, a Rhodesian Ridgeback I named “Tyrone”.
I’ve owned or fostered many dogs over the years, including American pit bull terriers, border collies, terriers, chihuahuas, a great Dane, and even a pharaoh hound. I now share a home with border collies “Edna” and “Audrey,” a chihuahua, “Pete” and “Kip,” a 3/4 chihuahua x dachsund who I picked up as an aggression rehabilitation project in March 2018.
Edna is my certified Search and Rescue partner; and Audrey, who is related to Edna has the job of making every day more fun.
Tyrone and I earned AKC and UKC Companion Dog titles during the winters when living in Oregon. In the summers, I worked at a salmon fishing resort on the west coast of Prince of Wales Island here in Southeast Alaska. I showed Tyrone several times for the next title up, a CDX, and also trained Tyrone in AKC tracking and carting, and dabbled in agility as well, with several of my dogs. I have attended training seminars for sheep herding, obedience trialing, tracking, search and rescue and agility.
When I moved back to Ketchikan in 1995 I switched my focus from competition training to search and rescue training, and joined Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad. I adopted “Annie,” a black Labrador mix from our local shelter and trained her for SAR. She was the first certified search dog in Ketchikan, and was an incredible working dog her entire career, before she retired at age 11 in 2008. Her final rescue was especially rewarding, when she found a small girl lost in the dark, wet cold night in the forest that stretches behind Ketchikan. Annie also had completed two of three legs on an obedience title and some agility competition before she died of old age in 2011.
For several years I taught group and private obedience classes in Ketchikan, but was frustrated that even well-trained dogs could be still unstable, unpleasant and even unsafe companions. I stumbled on “The Dog Whisperer” TV episodes and knew I’d found the missing piece in my training toolbox: the difference between dog training, and dog leadership. Using Cesar Millan’s approach to behavior modification and pack dynamics, I succeeded in rehabilitating my first project — Pete, the chihuahua that came to us with extreme aggression problems. Following that success, I have successfully taken in and rehabilitated several aggressive, fearful and difficult dogs for local rescue organizations.
Since 2009, I have focused on coaching people one-one-one to solve their dogs’ behavior problems and to raise great puppies. I really have enjoyed getting to know families as I’ve helped them create happy, balanced furry companions.
Working for perfection in a high score, or training a dog to possibly save someone’s life is very exciting, but saving unbalanced dogs’ lives by reshaping their temperaments and coaching pet owners on how to solve the basic problems of living with another species are deeply gratifying.
This blog is one more way I am excited to reach out to people who want to live with the perfect, balanced dogs of their dreams.
In my non-dog life I teach light-hearted painting classes, work as a reporter for Ketchikan Daily News and wrangle a flock of chickens.