Nikki has been training dogs for over 15 years. She owned and operated Premier K-9, a dog training school in Grand Ledge, MI from 2003 to 2012. She holds two master’s degrees from Michigan State University in Counseling and School Psychology and has completed her PhD with an emphasis on behavior modification. Her education and years of experience training pet dogs as well as training and breeding police dogs makes her an expert in the field. Nikki has titled many dogs to high levels in various sports such as agility, UKC obedience, K9 Pro Sports, and Protection Sports Association. She has also competed in Schutzhund. Nikki has also earned several Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dogs International titles.
Gery has been assisting Canines for Change in training canine heroes since 2018. He has had several dogs of his own over the years which helped him understand what was needed in the training process. In addition, he has 35 years of teaching experience with early elementary children and special needs students which he says helps him in this area. Working with this population of students requires an incredible amount of patience and understanding, and these traits transfer over to the training process. The most rewarding and memorable experience Gery states is traveling to Pittsburgh to work with the clients from the Epileptic Foundation that are receiving these highly trained service dogs. Canines for Change strives to make miracles happen daily, and Gery wants to be part of it.
Mars joined the Canines for Change team in April of 2020. She wanted to turn trying times into a time where she could do something to help others. Since then she has puppy raised and trained dogs that have gone on to help others with the Epilepsy Foundation and our Facility Dog Program. Her passion for dog training originated from a stubborn Siberian Husky rescue she adopted who had been passed from home to home. She was determined to prove she was more stubborn than he was and give him a loving, stable home. (It worked!) When she’s not training dogs, you can find Mars working as a photographer. Her favorite photo sessions are the ones that include dogs.
Marni has a paralegal degree from Lansing Community College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Community Development/Health Sciences from Central Michigan University. She has spent most of her career working in the legal field and human resources. But, her passion has always been working with animals. She has experience working with various types of dog training including basic and advanced obedience, as well as protection training. She began volunteering with Canines for Change in 2020. When COVID changed the way people work and live their everyday lives, Marni wanted to become part of something that provided a positive impact on the population it serves. She has acted as a puppy raiser, breed host, training assistant and helps with the administrative side of Canines for Change. She also opens her home up to all the dogs and puppies as they are rotated between the various stages of training. Watching the freedom that service dogs give their owners, as well as the comfort facility dogs provide to children in schools has been a rewarding experience that Marni feels grateful to be part of.
Volunteering with Canines for Change has helped me to give back to an amazing organization that trained my mom’s service dog. Nikki is such an inspiring, passionate, devoted, compassionate leader. She shows us how we all can play an important role in helping to accomplish so much with training the dogs. We take them into our homes as puppies, bond with them, and really socialize with them, training with them in one way or another all day, every day. It’s a lot of work, but so rewarding. To be able to present a trained service or facility dog to someone who needs it, and see what a change it makes in their lives, is such an incredible feeling. I am truly blessed to become part of the C4C family of volunteers, helping to shape and train another hero for a person in need.
Gladys has been with Canines for Change since the very beginning (2005) and has trained many service dogs over the years! Gladys has taught obedience classes for 35 years and is also a judge for the AKC CGC Program and a UKC judge for the spot program. Gladys raises and shows her dogs in various sport events and actively shows in obedience, rally, scentwork, agility and confirmation.
Lisa Klingbiel joined Canines for Change in July of 2020. Having recently retired from teaching in Grand Ledge Schools, she now had time to pursue something brand new, so she began volunteering with the hope of making a difference for students and others in need of facility dogs. In the past 18 months, she has had the pleasure of being part of training two epileptic seizure dogs as well as two facility dogs that have been placed at Grand Ledge Schools. When she is not working with her dog, Scout, and his friends, she likes to play violin, study history, and putter around the golf course with her husband, David.