About Michelle

Photo by Mary Bloom
Photo by Mary Bloom

Dogs have been my passion since I was a young girl. In the late 1980s, my mother was the only approved foster home for the city dog pound. Our house had a steady flow of rescue dogs that she would rehabilitate and assist the city in rehoming. Eventually she became interested in training and showing purebred dogs. From the age of 5, I began to show and train dogs with her. When I was 10, she bought our first Toy Manchester Terrier named Princess, soon followed by Kitty. At age 13, I was showing the dogs my mother bred under her Bleu Springs name and others began asking me to train and show their dogs.

Despite our success in the show ring, my mom never left her passion for rescue behind. For more than a decade, she devoted herself to rescuing Manchester Terriers across the United States, while also striving to produce healthy and sound Manchester Terriers for the show ring and companion homes. My mother instilled a sense of responsibility in me for not only my own dogs, but for those who have been abandoned by others. My dedication and devotion to man’s best friend has dictated my career choices, the causes I support and how I choose to spend my time outside of work.

My degree may be in Public Relations and Communications, but I have spent a lifetime learning from those who came before me, listening to mentors and studying everything dog related that I could get my hands on. I am an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen (CGC) evaluator, which means I can help owners train dogs for the CGC test and I am approved to administer the test and certify dogs to receive AKC CGC titles. I have written for dog publications and acted as media spokesperson in two dog related industries. My knowledge and interest in dogs includes but is not limited to canine structure, therapy, service work, behavior, genetics, reproduction, training, husbandry, rescue, legislation, ownership and general care. While I would not profess to be an expert in all of these topics, they interest me and I have a basic understanding at minimum.

Professional Experience
I graduated with a degree in Communications and worked in public relations for the American Kennel Club (AKC) for a number of years. The AKC is a not-for-profit organization that is best known as a registry for purebred dogs. It also promotes responsible dog ownership, advocates for the rights of dog owners, and regulates sporting events for dogs (conformation shows like Westminster, companion events like the National Agility Championship, and performance events like field trials and earthdog tests). I never really left the AKC behind. Five years after leaving the organization, I was asked to become an AKC Delegate. The AKC Delegate body governs the AKC along with the AKC Board of Directors. In fact, the AKC Board is selected from the delegate body, by the delegate body. In 2015, I gladly accepted the honor of becoming an AKC Delegate.

I currently work in public relations/communications for a 501(c)3 non-profit that breeds, raises and trains service dogs. In my current role, I manage all media relationships, write various communications, coordinate awareness and fundraising events, act as spokesperson, manage social media accounts and much more.

Volunteerism
Volunteering and giving back to the community is very important to me. I spend much of my free time working on projects that help others, both human and canine.

Therapy work: My Ibizan Hound, Alydar, and I are certified through the Bright & Beautiful Therapy Dogs, a non-profit which evaluates, tests, trains and qualifies owners and their well behaved dogs as therapy dog teams. Alydar and I make two visits per week to patients at two local hospitals. Alydar is one of the few therapy dogs that is admitted to work in the emergency wing of the Morristown Medical Center where we work to cheer up and ease the stress of patients and families who are receiving treatment or waiting to hear about the status of loved ones who have been rushed to the hospital. Alydar is also one of the few dogs permitted to make visits to the Newton Medical Center where we brighten the day of patients who have been admitted for long term care.

American Manchester Terrier Club (AMTC) is the parent club for the Manchester Terrier breed in the United States. Parent clubs are sanctioned by AKC and its members are considered the guardians of the breed. Our role is to work towards responsible breeding and ownership. Members must adhere to a code of ethics. I have been a member of the AMTC since 2001 and have helped in many different areas. In 2014, I was extremely honored to be presented with the club’s AKC Outstanding Sportsmanship Award in recognition of my contributions to the breed and club. Today, I chair the rescue and health programs.

  • Rescue co-chair: My mother re-vamped and ran the AMTC Rescue program for roughly a decade. She retired from showing, breeding and the club. A short time later, I became the rescue co-chair along with another club member. Together, we re-structured the rescue program to what it is today, and work to help Manchester Terriers in need, no matter where in the United States they may be.
  • Health chair: I am the health chair for the AMTC and my primary focus is on providing information to support research and help breeders produce healthy dogs. In 2010, I joined an international team that formed to advance the study of juvenile dilated cardiomyopathy (JDCM), a heart disease that is relatively recent in our breed’s history. In 2013, I took the lead role on that team.  By working with breeders, researchers and veterinarians, we have raised awareness about the disease with breeders and in the winter of 2015/2016 we raised $15,000 in funds from the Manchester Terrier community for research. In 2016, the gene mutation responsible for JDCM was located and we now have a DNA test for breeding stock. Click here for the latest news.

Ibizan Hound Club of the United States (IHCUS) is the parent club of the Ibizan Hound. Since 2008, I have served as the club’s rescue chair for the only rescue dedicated solely to Ibizan Hounds in the United States. With the help of many dedicated Ibizan Hound breeders and owners, our rescue has helped more than 50 Ibizan Hounds during my tenure as rescue chair. Since June 2015, I have served as the AKC Delegate that represents IHCUS.

Schooley’s Mountain Kennel Club (SMKC) is a local dog club established to help promote responsible dog ownership and host events for dog owners such as it’s annual dog show and annual agility competition. I am a member and am serving my second term on the club’s Board of Directors. I also administrate the club’s veterinary scholarship program which donates $1,000/year to students from NJ who are studying in the field of veterinary medicine. In the past, I have taught show handling classes (for owners looking to learn how to show their dog) to benefit the club.

The New Jersey Federation of Dog Clubs (NJFDC) is a not-for-profit organization that represents the interests of dog owners in the state of NJ. It is a club of clubs, in the sense that members are not individuals but clubs of dog owners such as SMKC. Each member club elects delegates to represent their group to the NJFDC and I am one of those delegates.  I currently represent SMKC as a delegate to the NJFDC.