Meet our pack!
Stephanie’s career in the animal industry was preceded with extensive animal rescue work starting when she was 8 years old. Even as a young child, she always gravitated towards animals, but retired racing greyhound rescue opened a whole new and exciting world for her. Stephanie was working in a veterinarian’s office at 14, trained as a veterinary technician by 16, handling a personal schedule of minor procedures by 19, and finally managing a busy multi veterinarian clinic at 24. Sadly, the negativity of the veterinary world quickly became taxing, and Stephanie worked with a traveling vaccine clinic until she discovered the world of doggie daycare and boarding facilities. After a number of years managing some of busiest facilities in the area, Stephanie decided that pursuing a career focused on canine socialization and rescue rehabilitation was what would bring her the most joy. She has since spent a significant amount of time working with multiple trainers improving her existing skills and learning new training methods. It's not uncommon to find Stephanie associated with various animal related causes working not only with multiple rescue groups but also with humane investigators, local law enforcement, and animal control in an effort to better serve the public while advocating for animals. She even served as the intrim Animal Warden for the North Chicago Police Department in 2019.
Of course, it wouldn’t be SFK9 Dog Training if it wasn’t a family affair. As you watch our videos and view the pictures we share, we have a feeling that you will notice something that makes SFK9 Dog Training truly unique. The entire SFK9 family, including Stephanie's children; Jimmie, Stevie, Evelyn, Raelyn, and even baby Lainey, are participants in the training of every dog. Why? Because children are part of the family and part of the way our household functions, we expect our own dogs as well as those we train to understand that and to respect that. Learning to respect all members of our household makes transitioning their newly learned behavior back into their owner’s home almost effortless. The basis and success of our training methods center around teaching each dog how to be a functioning part of the family and household.
Eddie is our USMC Veteran! OOrah! After his career with the Marines ended, Eddie spent a number of years desperately searching for a new career path that was just as rewarding, and let me tell you- the struggle was real!
Eddie made his way into the animal industry, first diving into the rescue world by fostering and assisting with transports. Witnessing first hand the amount of dogs coming through rescue in need of serious rehabilitation, Eddie's Marine instincts kicked in and he knew he needed to find a way to help them. He quickly sought out an apprenticeship opportunity with an experienced Master Trainer, and immediately realized his second calling in life. He spent of number of years working with numerous local rescues and as a subcontracted trainer for multiple different local dog daycare and boarding facilities. Eddie noticed that both of those situations allowed very little direct contact with the actual owners of the dogs and Eddie noticed how much continued follow up was truly needed in many situations in order for these dogs to successfully remain in their homes and he was very disappointed when the rescues and facilities wouldn't allow him to provide that follow up free of charge. Stephanie and Eddie discussed this dilemma and shortly there after, SFK9 Dog Training was born.
When Eddie is not training dogs, you can find him spending time with his daughters or volunteering with the American Red Cross and local emergency service agencies. They say that 'Once a Marine, Always a Marine" and we believe that is absolutely true as Eddie is very much the typical Marine at heart. We are incredibly grateful for his service and thankful to have Eddie as a core part of our amazing team!
Nicole grew up in Madison, WI among a family that wasn’t very fond of animals, but that never deterred her interest in the slightest. She always found a way to be around animals, including caring for friends and neighbors pets when they were away, as well as offering to help with pets that were being problematic. When Nicole moved to Illinois in 2012 she knew it would be a great way to start a new chapter and she began volunteering at an equine rescue while she worked to teach herself to be a horse trainer. However, this particular career path wasn’t panning out as quickly as she had hoped and so she began to look for other options that would be just as fulfilling. One of her dreams since she was young was to be able to train dogs, so when she discovered an opportunity to become an apprentice canine trainer, she jumped at the chance. With SFK9 Dog Training giving her the tools, knowledge, and hands on experience she needed combined with her own passion and determination, Nicole quickly blossomed and was soon offered a position within the company as a full time dog trainer. Though she still has a lot to learn, she is overjoyed at having the opportunity to help canines from all walks of life to become better companions.
Sara began her lifelong path working with animals at approximately the age she started to walk. She started by helping her dad work with and later run several international organizations dedicated to the care, rehabilitation, and conservation of reptiles along with the education of their human keepers. She did this, of course, while being surrounded by a wide variety of canine companions, primarily working, hunting, and herding breeds. At the age of 19 she adopted her first personal dog - a Doberman/Pit Bull mix named Socrates. In her previous life working with exotics, it had been a large part of her job to educate owners on proper care, and because of this she was determined to do everything right when it came to her new puppy. Domestic animals are so much more common and well understood than exotics, surely it would be much easier to properly care of dog...right? Very quickly Sara realized that not only was there an incredible amount of contradictory information regarding dog care and training, but an abundance of misinformation as well, much of which was dangerous. With this in mind, she entered the dog industry with the goal of educating humans and helping as many dogs as possible, and she began this journey as a dog walker. In her new job, Sara quickly became known as not only a stand-out in the areas of nutrition and general care, but also as the only handler willing to work with aggressive and reactive dogs - many of whom had been blacklisted by other dog walkers. She saw that many of these dogs had fixable issues, and through dedication and perseverance she was able to change many of these dog's lives for the better. It was here that she found her passion for helping the dogs others had declared hopeless. After a few years Sara moved out of dog walking and into more traditional boarding and doggy daycare facilities where she worked in management and as a trainer, but despite having a fancy new "trainer" title, she found her hands often tied by gag orders from business owners, preventing her from discussing dogs behavioral problems with their owners. This regrettably resulted in dangerous situations and injury for many of these dogs and the humans around them, and Sara knew that if she had been allowed to speak openly with these owners about their dogs' problems and work with them, these situations could have been avoided. She became a trainer to help dogs above all else, and being prevented from doing so nearly destroyed her will to work in the industry. She left that side of the dog world, being unwilling and unable to rationalize the situations her employers' gag orders mandated.
From there Sara was fortunate enough to find her way to SFK9 Dog Training, a group of like minded individuals and trainers dedicated to helping dogs and their owners while also helping rescue dogs in need of behavioral assistance. After a lifetime in the animal world and an entire working life in the dog industry, Sara finally found her pack of like minded humans and amazing dogs.