Call it instinct or uncanny ability: What A Good Dog founder and self-described “canine-compassionate” Mary Remer understands how dogs "work". Mary works hard to establish a bond with even the most challenging of canines. Her approach is based on her concept of “the Golden Cord of Connection”, a spiritual link from third eye to third eye which enables her to connect with dogs on a deeper level.
Mary has been an active competitor and title earner in many fields, including Conformation, Agility, Rally, Obedience, Nose Work, and Barn Hunt. A nationally renowned Certified Pet Dog Trainer, breeder, and a licensed American Kennel Club judge, Mary has won multiple Best In Shows with her home-bred dogs and has earned titles in a number of venues. She has won the breed numerous times as well as placed in the prestigious Terrier Group at the Westminster Kennel Club, and she has had the only Bull Terrier that competed and placed in Agility at Westminster.
Mary’s expertise has touched many different community organizations. She feels honored by her current work overseeing Service Dog and Handler Training for individuals with psychiatric and/or mobility needs at Main Line Deputy Dog (mldd.org). In addition to consulting for numerous rescue organizations, Mary’s volunteer work has included working with the most psychologically damaged mill dogs and training volunteers at Main Line Animal Rescue to work with this population. A tireless canine advocate, Mary has been a member of the Board of the Morris Animal Refuge and has served multiple terms as a member of the Pennsylvania Dog Law Advisory Board that succeeded in shutting down a number of puppy mills in Pennsylvania. A two-term President of the Bull Terrier Club of America, Mary was recognized with the BTCA's highest honor, the Bar Sinister Award. Among Mary’s many honors are training the first Bull Terrier certified for search and rescue missions who helped workers on Staten Island immediately following 9/11/2001.
Her work has been recognized in regional and national media including Main Line Today, Philadelphia Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Forbes, and Dog Fancy. In addition, Mary has appeared on Animal Planet, FOX Sports, Channel 3’s Better Pet Behavior with Carol Erickson, and several other local affiliate stations around the country.
Mary has trained well over 30,000 dogs over the last 35-plus years, and the numbers continue to grow. As Director of Training at WAGD and at Main Line Deputy Dog, Mary loves to share her gift with people and dogs to help them understand each other and create a strong, rewarding bond. Mary's goal is to increase the tolerance and respect between dogs and humans in a society where dogs are woven into the fabric of the community. How would Mary like to be known? “I share my life path with dogs,” she says simply.
As What A Good Dog's CEO and Director of Operations, Carolyn Garson is our behind-the-scenes wizard. Carolyn brings a Ph.D. in nursing and years of administrative and teaching experience at the University of Pennsylvania to her job. Carolyn uses her healthcare background in the development of policy and procedures, many of which emulate human healthcare standards and protocols. Carolyn also brings to the table years of “dog” experience. She first came to What A Good Dog over 25 years ago to learn how to better her relationship with her exuberant Labrador. Since that time, she and her Labradors have earned titles competing in the Obedience and Nose Work venues. Her knowledge and expertise touch everything we do, and her total dedication to people and their pets is unsurpassed.
With 28 years of service, Gail Reber provides invaluable insight and experience to all things behavior at What A Good Dog. Humans and dogs alike know that Gail knows what she’s doing when it comes to dogs, and she does it with humor and warmth. Gail instructs Puppy Kindergarten, all levels of Manners classes (beginners through advanced), and provides behavioral consultations in private session. She also offers swim sessions in the WAGD pool for dogs that are worried about swimming, need swim therapy as directed by their veterinarian, or just want to have fun. Gail has shared her life with many different breeds of dogs including Vizslas, German Shorthaired Pointers, and Bull Terriers. She has successfully competed in the Conformation ring, the Agility ring, and the Obedience and Rally rings. Before joining our team, Gail was a veterinary technician in lab, hospital and zoo settings. She maintains her veterinary technician license, adding to the expertise at WAGD.
Former Director of Admissions at Temple University’s School of Music and an accomplished musician herself, Linda White found a second career as a dog trainer with us 15 years ago. What A Good Dog’s positive-reinforcement training philosophy for her Curly-Coated Retrievers “changed my world,” she says. Linda focuses on working with families and their puppies, and she specializes in early socialization experiences, Puppy and Manners classes, Rally, and in-house training during a boarding stay. As part of our Behavioral Care Team, Linda also participates in the education and training of WAGD staff on canine behavior and health. Linda’s canine expertise, combined with her patient, kind and caring approach to families, put her in a league of her own... our customers constantly tell us so. Linda is herself -with her Curlies- a title holder in Conformation, Obedience, Rally and Nose Work.
Christy Durante has always loved animals. She has shared her home with many large canines, including Great Danes and a Rottie mix. Currently, she has two: one medium rescue and one larger sized rescue who join her for group play. A Pre-Veterinary Studies major at Penn State, she left a lucrative career selling scientific equipment to join What A Good Dog and has been with us for over 15 years. Christy possesses superb interpersonal skills, as well as undeniable intellectual and intuitive gifts when it comes to dogs. She has the ability to stay connected to the dogs and their energy rhythm. As Supervisor of Group Play, this gift and skill set results in the dogs flourishing in their canine-canine interactions. Christy also mentors WAGD staff such that the entire Group Play Team creates a playful and enriching canine environment. Additionally, she has been an assistant trainer for the past 15 years. Christy couldn’t be happier and says, “This is where I’m supposed to be.”
Previously employed as a veterinary technician at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine, Shirlee O’Neill has been training and competing with dogs for more than 25 years. With 7 years at What A Good Dog, she focuses on classes that are fun for both dogs and owners, including Nose Work, Circus Dog (tricks), and Competitive and Recreational Agility. Shirlee also offers enrichment sessions such as Trick Training for short- and long-term dogs-in-residence. Shirlee’s observation skills and attention to detail enable her to distill behavior into components that can be addressed individually and successfully chained back together again, resulting in success in and out of the ring. Both human and canine students who have had the pleasure of working with Shirlee have earned the highest titles in the competitive arena, including Agility and Nose Work. Not only a successful teacher, Shirlee is also a successful competitor in Agility, Nose Work, and Tricks.
As they say, “Teamwork Makes The Dream Work.” What A Good Dog only happens because of the full complement of its team. Our passionate core team (Annie, Kim, Robin, Devin, Angie, Sean, Kaitlyn, Michele, Lynn, Kat, Andy, Hugo, Sandino, Alfonzo, Nad, Andrew, Joyce, Linnea, Jess, Erin, Brittany, Courtney, Oliver, Carol, Sue) devote themselves to the well-being and comfort of each and every dog at What A Good Dog. They care with every fiber of their being and often extend themselves above and beyond to provide every guest at WAGD with the best possible experience.
We are also fortunate to have many high school and college students who are passionate about animals come to us for their first-time and summer work experiences. They are a very important part of the WAGD team because they come with passion in their hearts and their work ethic on their sleeves.