Melissa Kielbasa (Missy), CPDT-KA, BS is the founder and head trainer of Sandy Meadow Farm Obedience School. Graduating with a Bachelors degree in animal science, she worked as a certified veterinary technician for many years while studying and apprenticing with a diverse group of professional trainers. She began training professionally in 1988, and opened her own training school in 1993 on the farm property. She is an active member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, the International Assocation of Canine Professionals, the Massachusetts Farm Bureau, and is a certified evaluator for the AKC's Canine Good Citizen and Trick Dog Programs. She has lived with and loved German Shepherds for over 40 years and Border Collies for 25, and has successfully trained her own dogs to numerous competition obedience titles, therapy dog certifications, functional farm herding, conformation titles, AKC school ambassador programs, and to perform at various public demonstrations. She has been featured in numerous news articles and on TV including 'Dogs 101' on Animal Planet, 'Mass Appeal' on WWLP and WSBK, and 'Making It Here' on WGBY. Missy is the head trainer for the K-9's for Kids Pediatric Therapy Dog Unit, a group of dogs and handlers specially trained to work with physically, mentally, and learning disabled children. In addition, Missy is the choreographer and head trainer for the Westfield Woofers, a dog/handler line dance team that performs at various non profit public events. In 2009, Missy was honored with a Hometown Heroes award from the American Red Cross and received a Governor's Citation from Governor Deval Patrick for her dedicated training and volunteer services to the Pioneer Valley through the K-9's for Kids Program. In 2013 she was honored by the City of Westfield nominated as Volunteer of the Year for her participation and support of the pediatric therapy unit in the Westfield School System.
Elizabeth Depin, CPDT-KA is a certified trainer who teaches here at Sandy Meadow Farm and also offers private lessons through her own business Take the Lead Ma (www.facebook.com/taketheleadma). Elizabeth teaches our companion classes and developed and runs our specialty Social Struggler and Courageous Canine Classes.
Germaine Ruffo is the owner of Germaine's K-9 Kuties, www.k9kuties.com, professional dog grooming shop (413) 572 - 4666, and Keybree Aussies. She had been a foster puppy raiser for Guiding Eyes seeing eye dogs, and owned a German Shepherd from that program as well as Australian Shepherds and Miniature Australian Shepherds. Germaine actively and successfully competes in competition obedience and agility with all of her dogs, as well as training in tricks, freestyle dancing, conformation, nosework, dock diving, and therapy work.