Debi Krakar, CPDT
Debi Krakar is the Executive Director of Austin Dog Alliance as well as one of the trainers at the facility. She established the Austin Dog Alliance in May 2006 with the vision of making dogs an integral part of the community.
Debi began her involvement in the Austin canine community by volunteering with the Austin German Shepherd Dog Rescue in 2004. Besides fostering dogs, Debi organized the program’s events and coordinated the vet care for the organization’s 60 or more dogs. In 2006, she received Pet Partner registration at a Complex level with her partner Riley. This accomplishment opened the door to fulfilling her vision of working with children and dogs. The Bow Wow Reading Dog program started in the Fall of 2007 at Cox Elementary. The K9 Kids program also started at this time. After fostering over 500 dogs, instructing many children at K9 Kids Club and volunteering hundreds of hours in schools, libraries and hospitals, Debi realized the key to expanding her vision was training others.
Debi believes that training should be fun for the students and the dogs. She believes all dogs should be trained to be well behaved in the home and in public and that this training can and should start with young puppies. All training is done is a positive manner: positive with the dogs (clickers or verbal markers, praise, food treats, toy rewards) and with the students. She welcomes the entire family in her training classes because she believes that dogs should be part of the family.
Debi has received her Certified Professional Dog Trainer designation, the Pet Partner Team Evaluator license, the Pet Partner Instructor license, the Association of Pet Dog Trainers Canine Life and Social Skills Evaluator and Instructor registration and is an AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator. She also has a B.S. in Math and Computer Science from the University of Illinois and MAS Degree in Accounting/Information Systems from the University of Illinois. Debi has a long history of working with non-profit organizations. After the birth of her four children, Debi developed Mothers of Preschool Children, an organization sponsored by several local churches to support mothers. She also spent 10 years immersed in the PTA, holding board positions which included room mom, president, vice president, secretary, and events coordinator. Debi also has over 10 years experience in large-scale project management primarily in nonprofit and governmental entities through various consulting firms.
Debi lives with a pack of four dogs, two cats, various rotating foster dogs, four children (ages 13, 16, 18 and 20) and a very supportive husband.
Carolyn Honish, CPDT
Pet Therapy Director/Trainer
Carolyn Honish holds a BA in Anthropology, a BS in Communication Sciences and Disorders/Deafness Studies, and an MA in Communication Sciences and Disorders/Deaf Education from the University of Texas at Austin. She student taught at Texas School for the Deaf and holds Texas teaching certificates in deaf education and elementary education. She worked as a teacher of the deaf in the Austin and Round Rock Independent School Districts for thirteen years.
In 2004, Carolyn got a dachshund puppy and began bringing him to her elementary classroom. Lumpi (pronounced loompee, German for little rascal) was a huge motivator and served as a bridge of communication between hearing and deaf students. It was also apparent that Lumpi felt a sense of purpose in coming to school — it was his job. Carolyn then decided to start training Lumpi to become a therapy dog so that he could continue his work in the classroom. Her students became assistants in Lumpi’s training, and it was through their work with Lumpi that the idea of Paws for Alert (an enrichment program focusing on the socialization of deaf students with their hearing peers while training dogs) was born. In 2005, Carolyn received her dog training certification, began conducting Paws for Alert sessions, and became certified as a Pet Partners team with Lumpi.
Carolyn is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, a licensed Pet Partner evaluator, a licensed Pet Partner instructor, and an AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator.
Carolyn, her husband, and infant daughter currently live with three dogs, all dachshunds. Her second therapy dog came in April 2008 from Central Texas Dachshund Rescue. Buzz brought along a new perspective to dog training and pet therapy as he is deaf. At 4 months of age, Buzz immediately began coming to school with Carolyn so that her students could assist in his training. He now knows over 40 sign language commands and is a Pet Partner.
Michelle Munson, CPDT
While Michelle’s professional life was initially geared toward sales and marketing, her passion had always been around the world of the canine. She began training dogs professionally in 1990. Over the first ten years Michelle advanced from teaching basic dog training to gaining a better appreciation for and studying dog behaviors. In 2001 she earned her Master Trainer Certification and is an AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator. Over the next ten years, she continued to refine her skills and began leveraging her added experience to create classes focused on the most challenging issues that face owners today – unruly behaviors. She recognized that shelters are often overrun, not by dogs who won’t simply follow commands, a.k.a. “sit,” but by owners frustrated with poor habits like chewing, barking and jumping. She knew with the right guidance, these are problems simply solved with patience and practice. She believes with the right tools the pet parent can create a revolution of positive, consistent and desired behavior.
Michelle hopes everyone will choose to share their life with a dog. She knows first-hand the joy and unconditional love dogs bring to this world; sometimes it just takes a little coaching. Her mission is to assist pets and their parents achieve their goals whether they choose Pet Therapy, Agility, Rally or a good old fashioned walk around the block, loose leash – no pulling!
Michelle and her husband, two children (8 and 10) and 3 rescue dogs live in Pflugerville.
Tina Harper, CPDT
Tina started dog training almost 5 years ago, and found it to be her passion. She enjoys working with overactive dogs, having experienced ownership of this type of dog herself. Tina’s experience also stems from her previous years as a trainer in a big box store. She has embraced positive reinforcement techniques, and finds great joy in helping people bond with their dogs as well as showing people how much joy having a dog integrated into your life can bring.
Susan Windham, CPDT
Susan has been volunteering with Austin Dog Alliance for over five years. She is also an active foster parent.
Kids have always been Susan’s passion. At her job at the Kids Academy Child Development Center, she has worked with special needs and at-risk children. She feels that dogs can brighten the life of any child and allow for a child to overcome any obstacle in their life. Susan shares her life with two children, ages 2 and 12, and three dogs and a wonderful husband who is often seen volunteering at events.
Trainer/Adoption Program Director
Judy is the Adoption Program Director at Austin Dog Alliance. She has worked in rescue for 18 years, therapy dog work through Delta Society, and trained her first Obedience dog in 1976. She has trained in Agility, Flyball, and Rally as well.
With her children almost grown, Judy decided not to return to her previous career as a Research Botanist, but rather to pursue her love of dogs. She opened Happy Dog Pet Sitters, a successful pet sitting and dog walking business serving South Austin. During this time she found herself giving much advice to dog owners frustrated with their dog’s behavior and found a great deal of satisfaction in doing so. This prompted her to consider becoming a trainer and she is now on the road to becoming a Certified Pet Dog Trainer through the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.
Judy has a special love for Lancashire Heelers, a rare breed of British cattle driving dogs. Her dog Daisy was the first Lancashire Heeler Flyball champion in the US to receive a title and Judy is currently serving as the President of The U.S. Lancashire Heeler Club. She shares her home with two teenagers, two cockatiels, varying numbers of foster dogs, and a husband who works hard at keeping his sanity.
Jason is the proud companion of three Shiba Inu’s. He has discovered a passion for dog training, teaching and competing in the relatively new sport of K9 Nose Work® through his experiences with these highly intelligent and energetic dogs. Jason is currently in the K9 Nose Work® instructors program and loves to share an activity that cultivates the dog’s natural hunting and scenting abilities which was inspired by working detection dogs. Jason competed in his first Nose Work Trial in Golden, CO in September 2012.
Additionally, Jason works as a canine handler with a bed bug detection dog (a German Shepherd) for a pest control company where he has the privilege of seeing many of the same scenting skills put to work each day.
TJ Janus is new to Austin. He moved here in part, because of it’s dog-friendly environment. He lives in north Austin, with his Great Dane, Seamus, and his Chihuahua, Sarge.
TJ has a Bachelor’s Degree in Education, and was both a teacher, and a police detective, in New York State. He is a recent culinary school graduate. He is a fitness instructor at an Austin gym, and a running and cycling enthusiast. He is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.
TJ’s family operates a rescue farm in southeast Pennsylvania. All types of down and out animals, including dogs are left there, and many make it their permanent home. Spending a summer on the farm instilled a desire in TJ to improve the quality of life for dogs, by teaching owners techniques to help them comfortably coexist with their canine companions. He is developing an exercise program for dogs and their owners, to increase fitness and reduce stress in both, and strengthen bonding. He is currently participating in the Austin Dog Alliance apprentice program.
Assistant Trainer/Office Manager
Michele is the Office Manager at Austin Dog Alliance. She has been an active foster parent for several years and is currently in the Austin Dog Alliance apprentice program. Michele enjoys visiting assisted living facilities with her Pet Partner, Lexi, a former foster dog.
Robin’s foray into the dog-training world began about 5 years ago with the adoption of Dylan, her first pit bull mix. The addition of a high-drive dog to her life brought the realization that she would need to find a suitable outlet for both his intelligence and energy. Agility fit that the bill completely. Then with the addition of her second pit mix, Weasie, she saw the potential for therapy dog work and nose work. Now, whether she’s competing in agility or nose work, or working in the community as part of a therapy dog team, Robin has realized her calling for training dogs. She enjoys cultivating working relationships with both dogs and their owners so all can live harmonious and fulfilled lives.