- Brian Bergford
- Tibor Feigel
- Rafi Fontan
- Christina Gorke
- Emily Grossheider
- MJ Holt
- Connie Johnson
- Mike Kaviani
- Trish McMillan Loehr
- Joe Long
- Rhea Moriarity
- Aimee Sadler
- Kodi Sadler
- Annie Schupp
- Carly Shivers
- Ali Waszmer
Brian Bergford is a Certified Dog Trainer (IACP-CDT) with extensive experience as a practicing dog behavior specialist. He serves on the Board of Directors for the International Association of Canine Professionals and is the owner of Altitude Dog Training (www.altitudedogtraining.com) and Uptown Dog in Longmont, Colorado. His expertise is the interplay between dog behavior and human psychology, and his first book, Transformational Dog Training: Bring Out the Best in Your Dog by Bringing Out the Best in Yourself, emphasizes the critical relationship between personal development and the behavioral stability of companion animals.
Brian earned his degree in Psychology from the University of Colorado, taking particular interest in neuroscience, psychopathology, clinical psychology, and the principles of human psychology and personal performance. His passion for helping people and dogs drove him to expand his knowledge base by studying the principles of Canine Psychology and Behavior as well – a journey that helped him understand not only the human-canine bond but how each of us can maximize the peace and potential of our lives and share these benefits with our dogs.
Brian has been working with dogs since 2002. His ability to interpret canine energy, body language, and cognitive processes has enabled him to develop effective communication strategies to accomplish not only advanced obedience work with dogs, but effective behavior modification as well. Brian particularly enjoys working with packs of dogs and helping rehabilitate dogs with behavioral issues. It has been a great joy and honor for Brian to do advanced volunteering work with Longmont Humane Society’s Behavior Department for a number of years. Brian is also a Volhard Dog Nutrition consultant, and this additional specialization in nutrition and holistic health modalities adds greater depth and sophistication to his insight about canine behavior.
Having the opportunity to work with Aimee Sadler and the Dogs Playing for Life team is something Brian is tremendously grateful for. Traveling to different parts of the country as an instructor and assisting shelters with the implementation of off leash play groups has been an incredibly rewarding experience. He firmly believes in the mission of Dogs Playing for Life, and has witnessed time and again the transformational impact it is having on animal welfare through promoting canine enrichment in shelters, increasing live release rates, and helping educate staff members, volunteers and the public alike.
Tibor, originally from Hungary, has 15 years of experience as a dog behavior specialist. He began his career in New York City after moving to the United States. Tibor earned his degree in Biology and Physical Education from a teacher’s training college in Hungary.
During this time, he studied human psychology, zoology, and ethology (the study of animal behavior) extensively, which provided the foundations of his knowledge and beliefs in his field of expertise. After relocating to Florida in 2009, Tibor became an active volunteer at local animal welfare organizations.
He has volunteered countless hours at Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control; and assisted other rescues including Big Dog Ranch Rescue; Tri County Humane Society; Furry Friends Rescue; Okeechobee Humane Society; Coastal Boxer Rescue, and Forgotten Dog Rescue among others. Over the years, he has educated staff members and volunteers on proper handling techniques and common behavioral modifications. He has assisted shelters and rescue organizations in evaluating, training, rehabilitating, and re- homing canines. At Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control, Tibor has helped to implement the Dogs Playing for Life program and has seen the positive impact daily play groups have made in the lives of canines, volunteer attendance hours and increased adoption rates. In 2014, Tibor founded a non-profit organization, Zen-K9, Inc., with a mission to further aid and support the rescue, rehabilitation, and placement of abused and abandoned dogs.
Through a collaborated teamwork with the community, Tibor has helped save hundreds of shelter dogs from euthanasia. Tibor is very involved within the community educating the public on the importance of adoption and animal welfare. He regularly attends pet expos and community events to expand awareness. He has participated in “Countdown 2 Zero,” a community collaboration that has brought animal welfare organizations together to end the euthanasia of adoptable animals in Palm Beach County. In 2013, Tibor was part of a prison program at Moore Haven Correctional Facility.
He volunteered his time to educate inmates on how to handle and train shelter dogs. He has coached them on dog behavior modification, giving purpose and hope for both dogs and inmates for a second chance. Among his other accomplishments, Tibor was recently elected rescue committee member at Ballen Isles Wildlife Foundation and he is a Canine Good Citizen evaluator. Tibor is the owner of Zen-K9, LLC, which provides dog training, rehabilitating, boarding, and daily walking services. Ranging from puppy training to red-zone cases, he specializes in separation anxiety, self-confidence problems, fearful aggression, leash aggression, socialization and other behavioral issues.
Tibor officially joined the DPFL team in 2015 as an Instructor and provides enthusiastic play group support to many Florida shelters. Tibor currently resides in Palm Beach Gardens, FL with his family. He has a beautiful 5-year old daughter Laila, and a 2-year old mischievous son Remy, who are already practicing leadership skills among their pack of dogs.
Born & raised in Milwaukee, WI, Rafi was in and out of trouble and in a bad place in life. In 2005 he adopted his 1st puppy (Domino) from the Wisconsin Humane Society, a month later he adopted a 2nd puppy (Destiny) also from the WI Humane Society; this changed everything. Having his first two dogs (let alone puppies) he gained an interest in training and started his first job at a dog daycare. Dogs got him out of trouble and gave him a passion and purpose. From there he started reading/watching any and everything regarding dog training. He transitioned to another dog daycare for a short time. Years later he continued onto college, acquired an associates degree in audio recording and engineering (Madison Media Institute) and then continued onto a job as an animal care attendant with Shelter From The Storm (Madison, WI) where he acquired his project dog Little Man. After being there for almost a year he went back to Milwaukee, WI where he independently trained client dogs and eventually took a part time position as an adoption counselor at WI Humane Society. In 2014 he and his wife and family moved to Florida where he took a position at Four Paws Only as a dog handler in daycare and then stepped into management. Through a client at Four Paws he was invited to see Aimee Sadler’s playgroup Seminar at SPCA Florida (in Lakeland, WI). Upon attending the seminar he was given the opportunity to get in the yard and work the dogs which led to the offer for the playgroup coordinator position with the SPCA Florida. 7 months laterhe found himself working a seminar with Aimee which kicked off his opportunity/career to go full time with DPFL. Rafi is open to learning and acquiring as many skills as possible to continue to help save dogs. He currently resides in Lakeland, FL with his wife Kathleen, son (Nemo), daughter (Nova), 4 dogs (Domino, Destiny, LittleMan & Henry) and their cats (Shamali & Kevin)
Emily was born in the San Francisco Bay Area and was raised by a lab mix named Clayton and two cats named Kamme and Oreo. After graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a double major in psychology and sociology, Emily accepted a position at Dog Adoption and Welfare Group (DAWG) while attending law school and working in a local law office. In a matter of months, Emily realized she was more passionate about the dogs in the shelter than pursuing a legal career, and she enthusiastically accepted the position of Shelter Director. In her first year in that role, she was instrumental in increasing adoptions by over 50%. Following her tenure at DAWG, Emily became the Executive Director of the Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society where she once again led her staff in saving the lives of animals in increasing numbers while revitalizing the presence of SYVHS in the community. Emily also opened numerous funding channels that had not previously existed. In her ongoing efforts to improve the training of her staff and ultimately enrich and prolong the lives of the animal in her charge, Emily met the Dogs Playing for Life team and implemented their techniques with resounding success at her shelter. Emily knows firsthand the impact that playgroups have on extending the lives of animals and enriching the experience that their owners share with them. Emily lives in Santa Barbara, California with her ornery rescue mutt Blackjack. In her free time, she can be found on the beach, traveling or teaching her three nieces how to beg their mothers for a puppy. She is pursuing a master’s degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in non-profit management which will enable her to expand her efforts in advocating for the animals that continue to enrich her life and those of others. With these talents and her enthusiasm, Emily is excited to be joining the DPFL Team as Director of Development.
MJ started working with dogs at a daycare in Lawrence, Kansas in 2007 where he got his start in dog behavior. He attended Triple Crown Dog Academy (now Starmark Animal Behavioral Center) located in Hutto, Texas in 2009. After graduating training school, he moved to New York and began working in the training department for Ulster County SPCA.
In 2013 he moved back to Kansas City, Missouri and started working for Kansas City Pet Project (the 3rd largest open admissions, no-kill shelter in America) as the Playgroup Coordinator, and for Game Dog Guardian (a local rescue) as a trainer. His interest in dog behavior has fueled him to learn all he can about canine body language and dog to dog communication.
MJ enjoys working with behavior modification dogs in both shelters and in training facilities with owned animals. MJ met Aimee Sadler at Dogs Playing for Life seminars in shelters he worked at in New York and Kansas City and did two DPFL internships before joining the team as a DPFL Instructor.
When MJ is not traveling for DPFL, he works as a trainer at Home Sweet Home Dog Resort in Lawrence, Kansas where he works with owned and rescue dogs, teaching them how to be more social and comfortable with dogs in a group setting. MJ lives in Kansas City, Missouri with his wife, Ragan, and their four dogs; Stretch, Otter, Griffon and Essie. He loves spending time outdoors, camping and exploring with his dogs.
Mike Kaviani began working with shelter animals at the Irvine Animal Care Center in California when he was 18. His “3rd Chance for Pets Program” received national recognition when IACC was given the 2007 Shelter of the Year award primarily due to this program.
In 2010, Mike became the Director of Training and Behavior at the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation. At SASF, he worked under the guidance of Aimee Sadler, and together their work resulted in the shelter consistently reaching one of the highest save rates in the country.
In the Spring of 2012, Mike joined forces with Dr. Ellen Jefferson and became the Dog Behavior Program Manager for Austin Pets Alive! APA! had already achieved a 90% Save Rate for the entire city of Austin, and Mike’s focus is to save the last 10%, which primarily comprises large dogs with behavior issues. At APA!, he conducts daily dog play groups, provides training and behavior modification, teaches weekly volunteer training classes, trains shelter interns, and oversees the Canine Good Citizen and Adoption Follow-Up Training Programs.
Mike has been a DPFL Team Member and part of the program’s development throughout his work with Aimee. Mike is a DPFL Lead Instructor and assists with seminars and provides mentorships.
Trish McMillan Loehr is certified dog behavior counselor, an associate certified cat behavior counselor, and a certified professional dog trainer who holds a Master’s degree in Animal Behavior from the University of Exeter in England. She is also co-chair of the International Association of Animal Behavior Counselors’ shelter division. She trained and showed horses for more than a decade in a variety of disciplines before being lured into the dog training world through work with shelter dogs.
Starting as a shelter volunteer in Canada in the mid-90’s, Trish has been involved in a variety of shelter roles since then: as a dog walker, volunteer manager, and foster home coordinator. She was a behavior volunteer at the San Francisco SPCA, and also helped train volunteers and dogs at one of the first Open Paw shelters.
Trish managed dog daycares for a number of years in California, while teaching obedience classes and doing private training and behavior consulting work, and as always, volunteering with and fostering shelter dogs.
After grad school, Trish worked for more than three years as the director of animal behavior at the ASPCA’s New York City shelter, rehabilitating dogs from cruelty cases, training staff and volunteers, as well as making a couple of appearances on the reality show Animal Precinct.
A move to Illinois to work for the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Behavior team brought the opportunity to assess and work with a fascinating assortment of behavior in animals from cruelty, hoarding and dogfighting cases, as well as in pets rescued from natural disasters.
In addition to writing for the ASPCA’s Virtual Pet Behaviorist and other publications, Trish helped create and present several very popular webinars on dog and cat behavior and handling for the ASPCA Pro website.
Since 2013, Trish has owned Loehr Animal Behavior, and currently does training and behavior consulting work with dogs, cats, and horses. She continues to do volunteer, foster, and consulting work with animal shelters, and has spoken and consulted nationally and internationally on animal behavior and sheltering topics.
Having witnessed the magic of Dogs Playing For Life at a number of shelters, and having completed an internship at Longmont in Colorado, Trish is very excited to be involved with Aimee Sadler’s team in promoting great shelter welfare and adoption matches.
Joe Long has held a number of leadership positions spanning over 25 years. The past 18 years has been focused in the financial services technology, digital channel delivery market place. He has held several positions in Fortune 100 organizations, including Fiserv and Intuit, most recently overseeing business development for a technology start up. His accomplishments include developing and deploying client engagement process automation, enterprise client engagement and application pricing and margin optimization, and revenue acquisition growth in excess of 50% annually. Long has contributed to the California and Colorado Down’s Syndrome Association, and consulted for several startup businesses in the food service, apparel, and charitable foundation verticals. He studied phycology, Business Law, and Economics/Business Administration at California State University at Los Angeles, and Business Management/Marketing at the University of Phoenix. Joe brings his financial expertise to DPFL as a result of his marriage to CEO, Aimee Sadler, and his subsequent enthusiasm for DPFL’s philanthropic work.
Rhea grew up in rural Colorado and her love of animals began at a young age. Her early babysitters were indoor and outdoor cats, goats, chickens, geese, and multiple dogs. She would often spend time at the neighboring farm helping to milk the cows or grooming the horses. She began volunteering at Longmont Humane Society in 2006 in dog TLC and as a canine behavioral foster parent. Through her work with the behavior program she began a mentorship with Aimee Sadler. She has learned how to comprehensively support dogs and their owners with a variety of tools and techniques.
Rhea began working at Longmont Humane Society in February, 2010. As the Director of the Training and Behavior Modification Department, Rhea tirelessly oversees all things behavior at LHS – supervising daily shelter-dog play groups, facilitating Adoption Follow Up training sessions, group classes, and private lessons (just to name a few of her responsibilities!). Rhea has been a part of the DPFL team from the start, assisting CEO Aimee Sadler in all levels of program development and as her successor leading the behavior department at LHS. Rhea is a DPFL Presenter and Lead Instructor for shelter canine enrichment, training and behavior seminars and mentorships. She currently resides in Longmont with her two rescued dogs, Junior and Annie.
Kodi Sadler is proud to be one of Dogs Playing for Life’s Lead Instructors providing play group trainings to shelters internationally. His love of all dogs and his comfort working with large groups has been a prevalent part of his life since before he can remember. As DPFL Founder, Aimee Sadler’s, oldest son, his earliest memories include waddling around amidst the ever-changing large pack of owned and rescued dogs that cohabitated with the Sadlers while in training.
Kodi’s formal career in animal welfare began at the age of 17 when he started volunteering at the Longmont Humane Society. At age 18 he was invited to join the DPFL Team as an Instructor’s Assistant and fell in love with the work, inspiring him to complete his high school through a work study. While Kodi now travels full time teaching for DPFL, he considers himself to be a student of animal welfare. With the road as his campus and the dogs as his teachers, Kodi intends to continue learning as much as he can about the work that will be a part of his life forever. Kodi is passionate about play groups and the positive impact they have on animals and people.
Kodi currently lives in Longmont, CO with Sawchi, whom he adopted from LHS 10 years ago. Sawchi isn’t pleased with Kodi’s travel schedule and evidently is not as approving of Kodi’s career choice as he welcomes Kodi home with furious and jealous sniffing and snorting every time.
Annie began her animal welfare career as a volunteer for the Longmont Humane Society in 2009 by joining the Dog TLC program. Shortly after, she was hired as an Animal Care Team Member where she participate in all levels of care for LHS’ furry residents. In 2010 she began working as the Volunteer Department Assistant where she gained experience training new volunteers about how to safely handle shelter dogs, cats, and small mammals. In one short year, Annie was promoted to Training Specialist where she learned how to effectively and humanely use a variety of dog training tools and techniques through her work rehabilitating shelter dogs within LHS’ Training and Behavior Modification Department while supporting community dogs by teaching public training classes. Annie has joined the DPFL team as an Instructor for play groups seminars and mentorships. Annie graduated in 2012 from Colorado State University with a degree in Biology. She currently lives in Longmont, CO.
Ali’s passion for canine behavior and training began during her senior year in college when she started volunteering at her local animal shelter. Striving to become an accomplished dog trainer, Ali earned her CTC and CPDT-KA certifications after attending the San Francisco SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers in 2009, where she graduated with honors. After completing the SF SPCA Shelter Internship with concentrations in puppy development and dog-dog aggression, she returned to New York to accept a position at the SPCA of Westchester overseeing all functions of the behavior department, as well as training for volunteer dog companions. While working with the shelter dogs, she also owned and operated her private training business focused solely on helping her clients with dog reactivity and dog aggression. It was during her tenure at the Westchester Humane Society when Ali began to gain better insight and knowledge into the contextual differences between private dog training and shelter dog training.
During Ali’s past two and a half years working at Animal Care & Control of NYC (NYCACC), first as the Volunteer Manager then as the Enrichment and Staff Training Supervisor, she was able to practically apply all that she had learned about working with shelter animals and their care-takers at a high-volume, open admission shelter.
Ali first became interested in DPFL after auditing a seminar in Philadelphia in 2011. Shortly after NYCACC’s DPFL seminar in the fall of 2014, Ali transitioned into the role of Enrichment and Staff Training Supervisor where she managed the implementation and execution of the DPFL playgroup model. In August 2015, Ali attended a DPFL mentorship at the Longmont Humane Society in CO which strengthened her understanding and passion for the program. As a result of Ali’s dedication to working with shelter animals, her educational background in animal behavior and her enthusiasm for the positive impact of DPFL Programing, Ali joined the team in November, 2015 as the Director of Program Development.