National K-9 Learning Center Instructors and Certified Professional Trainers

Our Instructors

Chris Altier

National K-9 President and Director of the School for Dog Trainers and Instructor

Chris has extensive experience working with pet dog owners in the areas of obedience, behavior modification, and puppy development. He also has experience training his personal and clients’ dogs for therapy dog certifications. Chris has trained dogs and their handlers for law enforcement, scent detection, cadaver detection, tracking, personal protection, retrieval, and service/handicapped assistance. In addition to instructing dog owners and School for Dog Trainers’ students, Chris enjoys speaking to outside groups of adults and children about dog training, behavior, and safety.

Chris is a professional member of the International Association of Canine Professionals and the National K-9 Dog Trainers Association. He is also an evaluator for the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Test. He has attended numerous training, behavior, and other dog related conferences, seminars, and workshops. Chris mentored under National K-9’s founder Scott Mueller and former school director Bob Jervis.

Chris is the School for Dog Trainers’ Director and one of its primary instructors. He is also the President of National K-9, Inc. and responsible for supervising its training and boarding facility. Chris coordinates and assists with the professional development of the staff and certified professional trainers. He is responsible for the continued enhancement and implementation of National K-9’s training and behavior programs.

Before joining the National K-9 staff, Chris established and operated his own professional dog training and dog care business in Chicago, Illinois. He attended the National K-9 School for Dog Trainers during this period to expand upon his knowledge of dog training and behavior. After completing the six-week course he was invited to join the staff as a certified professional trainer and then became an instructor.

Chris is originally from Wooster, Ohio and received a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. Chris and his wife, Katie, have two children. They also have a Belgian Malinois named Otto.

Cassie Smith

Head Trainer and Instructor

Cassie grew up on her family’s ranch in a small town in Northern California and has had a passion for working with dogs from a young age. She grew up training family dogs, training horses and working with livestock. After high school Cassie raised two puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind in California and worked in a grooming shop for a few years. Cassie also apprenticed with stock dog trainers in the area for a few years and this is where she acquired her first Border Collie.

Cassie’s early experiences with dogs resulted in her attending National K-9’s School for Dog Trainers six-week course. After completion of the course she joined the National K-9 staff. Cassie’s interests in training are obedience, behavior modification, puppy development, agility, utility, retrieval, scent detection, service work and personal protection. She is also an evaluator for the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Test and has completed the American Red Cross Pet First Aid Course. She is a member of the International Association of Canine Professionals and the National K-9 Dog Trainers Association.

As head trainer, Cassie is responsible for supervising the National K-9 staff trainers and boarding facility employees.  Cassie is originally from Northern California and currently has a Border Collie named Zoe, a Belgian Malinois named Brom, and a cat named Saphira.

Jessica Hackley

Certified Professional Trainer and Assistant Instructor

With a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a focus in Interior Design from Columbus College of Art and Design, Jessica spent a few years in the architecture and design industry before concluding that she would be happier in a different career.  She decided to fulfill a lifelong dream of working with animals.  This prompted Jessica to  complete the National K-9’s School for Dog Trainers six-week course.  After completion of the course she established her own in-home training business before eventually joining the National K-9 staff as a certified professional trainer.

Jessica’s interests in training are obedience, behavior modification, puppy development, retrieval, and service dog training. She is an evaluator for the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Test and has completed the Pet Tech Pet First Aid Course. Jessica is a member of the International Association of Canine Professionals and the National K-9 Dog Trainers Association.

Jessica currently resides in Columbus with her husband, her shepherd mix Mowgli, and her Doberman named Jacko.  Jessica and Mowgli volunteer as a certified therapy dog team.

Grace Myers

Certified Professional Trainer and Assistant Instructor

Grace’s passion for working with animals began at a young age. Growing up in the country surrounded by several farms, she raised lambs through a local 4-H Club before she began to develop an interest in dogs. While in middle school, she raised two guide dog puppies through The Seeing Eye in New Jersey.  While in high school she volunteered as a certified therapy dog team with her Labrador Retriever, Banjo.

In her junior year of high school, Grace began her first job as an attendant at a dog daycare and boarding facility.  This experience continued to develop her interest in a dog training and her desire to pursue a career as a professional dog trainer. Shortly after graduating high school, Grace decided to further her education and she completed the National K-9’s School for Dog Trainers six-week course. Upon graduation of the course, she started and ran her own in-home dog training business for a year.  Grace was then offered an opportunity to join the staff at National K-9 as a certified professional trainer.

Grace is interested in obedience, behavior modification, agility, personal protection, scent detection, retrieval, utility, and service dog training.  She is a member of the International Association of Canine Professionals and the National K-9 Dog Trainers Association.

Grace is originally from southeastern Pennsylvania, and currently lives with her German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix, Kai, and her Labrador Retriever, Banjo.

Miranda Cook

Certified Professional Trainer and Assistant Instructor

Miranda grew up in Northeast Ohio. She has always been an animal lover and has had dogs her whole life. She has known she wanted to work with animals since she was a little girl. Miranda attended the Ohio State University, where she majored in Animal Science and minored in Agribusiness. In 2018 she graduated with her degree in Agriculture.

Miranda worked various jobs, ranging from working for a doggie daycare to managing condo associations, before realizing that dog training is where her passion lies. Miranda then completed the National K-9’s School for Dog Trainers course to receive her professional certification. After the completion of her course, Miranda was offered a chance to join the staff at National K9 as a Certified Professional Trainer.

Miranda is interested in obedience, puppy development, behavior modification, personal protection, and scent detention. Miranda currently lives in the Columbus area with her boyfriend and her two German Shepherds, Deacon, and Ivory.

Elizabeth Ursich

Certified Professional Trainer and Assistant Instructor

Elizabeth grew up in Central Ohio on her family’s farm, where her passion for working with dogs began. From a young age she enjoyed working with and training livestock and participated in 4-H for ten years training sheep and hogs to show at her local fair. In her later teens she enjoyed teaching the family dog various tricks and commands, as well as saving baby kittens and nurturing them back to health.

During Elizabeth’s junior and senior year of high school, her desire to pursue dog training as a professional career continued to develop. Wanting to further her education after high school Elizabeth applied for and completed the National K-9’s School for Dog Trainers six-week Master Course. After completing the course, she then joined the National K-9 staff as a certified professional trainer. She resides in Central Ohio with her family and Bernese/German Shepherd mix, Molly.

She is interested in obedience, service dog training, retrieval, personal protection, tracking, and agility. Elizabeth has completed the Pet Tech Pet First-Aid Course and is also a member of the National K-9 Dog Trainers Association and International Association of Canine Professionals.

Dr. Michael Turley, DVM

School for Dog Trainers’ Canine Health Lecturer

Dr. Turley has been instructing National K-9 School for Dog Trainer students since the 1980’s. Dr. Turley’s lectures include information regarding routine canine health issues, parasites, vaccinations and health care. He is also eager to answer any canine health related questions students may have. Dr. Turley’s passion is in preventative medicine.

He graduated from The Ohio State University in 1978 and then established the Hamilton Road Animal Hospital. Originally from Columbus, Dr. Turley and his wife Lynn have two children. The Turley family also has a Golden Retriever named Briscoe and one cat.

Brett Suttle

School for Dog Trainers’ First Aid, Nutrition, and Search/Rescue Lecturer

Brett teaches school for dog trainers’ students the PetSaver™ CPR & First Aid For Your Pets Certification course.   Brett also speaks to students about canine nutrition and his experiences with search and rescue.

Brett served in the United States Navy and after his service received a Bachelor of Science in business.  In 1998, Brett joined the Ohio K9 Search Team where he served in several officer positions and as a certified dog handler until 2005.  During this time, Brett and his K9s became certified in many search disciplines, including cadaver, water, building search, and human remains, along with live land searches.

Brett is a certified professional trainer and 6-week graduate of the National K-9 School for Dog Trainers.  He operates his own dog training business located in Central Ohio.  Brett’s passion for canine nutrition led him to develop his own line of dog food.  Brett was born in Pennsylvania and raised in Ohio, where he currently resides.

Darrah Metz

School for Dog Trainers’ Therapy Dog Lecturer

Darrah is Franklin County (Ohio) Sheriff’s Deputy, and she enjoys speaking to school for dog trainers’ students about therapy dogs and her experiences as part of the Sheriff’s Department Therapy Dog program.  This program features select canines and law enforcement personnel that are trained to provide victims with an outlet from the mental, physical, or psychological effects of experienced trauma.

She is partnered with Mattis the Labrador Retriever, who became the first law enforcement therapy dog in the State of Ohio and the sixth in the nation in 2017.  Darrah is a certified professional trainer and a 6-week graduate of the National K-9 School for Dog Trainers.

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