Meet Our Staff

Lisa Nichols

Operations Manager

Teah Anders

Dog Trainer

Denny Pontes-Tull

Dog Trainer

Darcy Larkin

Dog Trainer

Carol Wissler

Dog Trainer

Betty Scattini

Dog Trainer

Wesley Bird

Dog Trainer

Get to Know Our Staff

 
Lisa Nichols

Operations Manager

Dog Trainer

Lisa started taking classes in 2003 and then eventually started assisting Teah with classes in 2005. She regularly attends seminars by some of the world’s best trainers including Kay Laurence, Ken Ramirez, Steve White, and Patricia McConnell. Lisa says she always enjoys learning more about training and understanding more about what makes our dogs tick. She and her dogs have sampled many classes including basic training, Rally-O, Conformation, Freestyle, and most recently the new sport of K9 Nose Work. Lisa is one of our excellent trainers who works with families doing in-home private training sessions.  Behind the scenes, Lisa also does tons of work helping Teah keep all her paperwork and computer info up to date.

Like many of our clients, Lisa has learned to balance family life with raising dogs. She currently shares her life with her husband, four children, and three dogs. Two of the dogs are Bernese Mountain Dogs (Murphy & Guinness) and one is a herding dog mix (Sorcha-bean).

Lisa enjoys helping with classes because she likes helping other pet dog owners find the balance (through positive training, compassion, and understanding) that allows their dogs to live harmoniously with them inside their home.

 
Teah Anders

CPDT-KA, CNWI, CMMI, CAP2

Dog Trainer

Teah Anders founded Gentle Touch Pet Training in 1999 and has enjoyed teaching people and their dogs clicker training for more than 21 years. She has successfully taught thousands of people the clicker training method. Teah was among the first in the country to become a Certified Mental Management Instructor through Mental Management Systems in Texas. 

 

She enjoys teaching clients who compete in dog sports how to perform at an optimal level, consistently under pressure.  Teah is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers and is a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT). She is a Certified Nose Work Instructor through the National Association of K9 Scent Work. Teah has also earned a CAP2 (Competency Assessment Program – Level 2) certification through Kay Laurence’s Learning About Dogs organization in the UK. She has been a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Evaluator through the American Kennel Club since 2004. Teah and Hally, certified through Therapy Dog’s International, had fun for years cheering folks up in visits to elderly care facilities.

 

Currently Teah teaches puppy, elementary and intermediate clicker training classes at her facility. She has developed and teaches a Feisty Fido’s class for reactive dogs. She also teaches classes in her favorite sport, K9 Nose Work. In addition, Teah does private in-home training and behavioral consultations.

 

Teah enjoys K9 Nose Work with three of her dogs, Shamie, Reacher and Dipity.  She has competed in Musical Canine Freestyle with her Pug, Hally, who is the first Pug to earn both beginning and novice titles through the World Canine Freestyle Organization.  Shamie and Teah as a team have achieved an NACSW Elite 1 Title and continue to compete.  She is just beginning Reacher in NW.  She has also shown Shamie in AKC Conformation earning her breed championship title.

Teah believes that continuing education is a priority. She attends seminars around the country on many topics related to dog training, dog sports and dog behavior. In recent years, several highlights include many Nose Work Seminars offered through NACSW, Mental Management System training with Lanny Bassham, the Animal Training Program at Shedd Aquarium with Ken Ramirez, Dr. Susan Friedman and Kay Laurence seminars, Karen Pryor’s Clicker Expos, APDT Conferences, Bob Bailey’s Chicken Camp and many more. She also hosts seminars bringing world-class trainers and dog experts such as Sue Sternberg, Kay Laurence, Steve and Jen White, Ken Ramirez, Patricia McConnell, Pat Miller and Kathy Sdao to California’s Central Coast.

 

Through the years, Teah has donated many hours of time helping local dog shelter staff learn more about positive training methods.  For more than 12 summers, she was a presenter at the Wood’s Humane Society Critter Camp. She currently presents at Camp Hope, an informational kids camp, sponsored by the Santa Barbara Animal Care Foundation.  In addition, she has helped many 4-H students learn clicker training.

Teah holds a B.S. degree in business and an M.A. degree in Natural Resources Policy, Communications and Management. Although Teah originally learned clicker training in 1989, it was when she made the move to California that she had the opportunity to move from the corporate arena, where she worked with environmental issues, to help people live happier lives with their dogs. Teah lives with her husband, Chuck, five dogs in Arroyo Grande, CA.

 

Teah’s current dog family includes:

  • Reacher – Lab/Border Collie/Icelandic Sheepdog

  • Dipity – Pug

  • Shamie – English Cocker Spaniel

  • Salsa – German Shorthair Pointer/Spanish Water Dog

  • Cambria – Chinese Crested Powderpuff

 

Teah’s animal companions who have crossed the Rainbow Bridge in the last 21 years include and will always be remembered include:

  • Louie – Pug

  • Chili – Corgi/Aussie X from the streets of Mexico)

  • Hally – Pug

  • Sahara – Anatolian Shepherd

  • Saffron – Pug

  • Kiko – Keeshond/Rough Collie

  • Bear – Lab/Rottweiler

  • Wags – Lhasa Apso

  • Crystal Moon – Lhasa Apso

  • Skye – Cairn Terrier

  • Andrew – Border Collie

  • Deva – our ranch kitty

  • Many Llamas (Max, Vega, Turi, Epiphany, Poppy, Seminole Thunder & 10 crias born on our ranch)

  • Goats: Lacy, Lilly,  Zippy

  • Cockatiels – Beakers, Gandy, Tara, Cappy, Pie

 
Denny Pontes-Tull

CAP1

Dog Trainer

Denny has been with Gentle Touch Pet Training since 2000, and was one of the very first students to begin assisting/apprenticing with classes and now teaches a Competitive Heelwork/Relationship Seminar and assists many other classes including Puppy Preschool and Feisty Fido’s. Denny competes in 7 different dog sports and each year attends numerous seminars given by competitors at the top of their field, with an emphasis on building motivation for Competitive Obedience and Agility. Denny has earned a CAP1 (Competency Assessment Program – Level 1) through Kay Laurence’s Learning About Dogs in the UK.

Denny’s world has always been richly populated with all kinds of animals, both wild, tame, and exotics. Growing up with two brothers in the U.S. Forest Service meant at any time there could be a falcon, or owl, or baby deer taking up temporary residence on the back porch until they could be transported to a rehab center. Denny was also deeply involved all through her childhood in 4-H and FFA. She became a teen leader in Rabbitry and Horse Programs. There were always hunting dogs in her family and Denny loved them dearly and taught them (and all the neighbor dogs as well) many amazing tricks as a child. Her Dad was not too amused when she taught his hunting dogs to climb all the way up the ladder onto the house’s rooftop at which point Cody and Ben would howl mercilessly until someone came and rescued them. It’s not easy hauling 75 lb. German Shorthair/Lab down a ladder!

Denny’s early passion was horses, and as a teen worked every day after school on several local horse ranches starting, showing, and fitting horses for the ring. She was finally allowed to purchase her own horse, a Saddlebred/Arab whom she showed to several Trail and Hunt Seat championships in local shows. Denny later worked for several years for a very successful Paint horse ranch in Santa Ynez, handling breeding stallions and colts.

 

For more than 25 years, Denny has found deep spiritual satisfaction working in the Geriatric health care field as a Social Service/Animal Assisted Visits Director at Santa Maria Care Center. She is daily awed and humbled by those she cares for. “They have already survived the worst things you can imagine, loss of a spouse, loss of a child, loss of their homes and health and friends. They have faced down their fear and sorrow and conquered it. What they have to teach us is how to live.” Many of the residents love animals and actually help Denny clicker train her show and therapy dogs who visit there daily. The residents have also had visits from a Burmese Python, a Royal Python, a Cockatoo a Macaw, and several giant monitor lizards from Denny’s menagerie over the years.

Denny’s life is currently filled with several VERY special dogs, which along with her VERY tolerant husband, Bob, she considers her wisest and dearest friend. She has titled many dogs including a wolf hybrid, two Bull Terriers, a pound rescue field-bred English Pointer, and a 7 inch, 5 pound Chihuahua in various disciplines, including Conformation, Obedience, Agility, Earthdog, Musical Freestyle, Rally Obedience, and Certified Therapy dog work.

Here are Denny’s and her dog’s wonderful accomplishments:

  • Morticia (Miniature Bull Terrier) – Morticia was the top Miniature Bull Terrier in AKC Agility in 2010.  She has achieved her Nose Work 1 Title and is very close to having her Nose Work 2 title!  She was the first Miniature Bull Terrier in history to have a title in Musical Canine Freestyle. She also has achieved a Rally Excellent title.  She now does CAT (Coursing Ability Tests) Lure Coursing and has achieved her CAT title and is now halfway to her 2nd level title. She has done Earthdog Terrier Racing and Barn Hunt Competitions.  She competes at the Master’s Level in AKC Agility.  Morticia adores all people and believes no lap should go “un-sat” in!

  • Twitchy (field-bred English Pointer) – Twitchy was a hysterical, untrained, un-housebroken adult adoptee from Santa Barbara County Animal Health and Regulation in Santa Maria. Despite neurological and physical challenges, Twitchy has achieved her Rally Excellent title, her CD, and almost, her CDX.

  • Cucuy aka Cooie (a 7 inch tall Chihuahua) – And keeping them all safe…this only guy in the pack, who in his heart and mind is Giant Mastiff, is a well-loved sight at agility trials, often mistaken for a gopher on the course, and often winning against dogs almost double his height. Coo has achieved his Nose Work1 Title, Rally Excellent title, and his AX, AXJ Excellent level titles and competes at Master Level in AKC agility. He is a VERY big personality in a tiny gray body!

  • Scout (Chihuahua – Cucuy’s daughter) – has achieved her Nose Work 1 title and is beginning Lure Coursing and Agility.

  • Finkie (Chihuahua – Scout’s Mom) – is a Therapy Dog extraordinaire and loves to be held by anyone, anywhere. Finkie is beginning her AKC Agility career; she dabbles in Nose Work and Lure Coursing.

Now having passed over the Rainbow Bridge:

  • Frighty or Ch. Ardry’s Frightfully Fun! (Bull Terrier) – Achieved her Breed Championship and her Open Agility title. Fright is the first Bull Terrier in history to achieve a Rally Excellent title and the first-ever of her breed to have a Musical Canine Freestyle title. She was also a certified Therapy dog with over 600 visits. Fright is also one of very few Bull Terriers to have achieved a CD title. She is one of only 5 Bull Terriers in the breed to achieve a Versatility Award of Excellence. Fright and Denny won High In Trial in Obedience at the Bull Terrier Nationals in October of 2009.

  • Ice (Malamute /Husky /Wolf) – Achieved her U-CD Obedience title and Open NADAC agility titles.

 

None of Denny’s dogs are what you’d commonly call “trainable” breeds, and several began with fear, motivation, physical challenges, and ADD issues, but Clicker Training has been the key that leveled the field for all of them, not just to learn but to excel at some really difficult endeavors. Denny says her greatest joy is in spending time with these amazing friends, and in helping others to see the magic, intelligence and joy their own dogs have to share with them.

 
Darcy Larkin

Darcy discovered clicker training and Gentle Touch Pet Training in 2005. She had the wonderful opportunity of growing up with a variety of animals including dogs, cats, sheep, cows, and rabbits. Her parents instilled in her a love of all animals. She never did any formal training with her dogs until she brought home a six-month-old rat terrier named Buddy. She had never had a dog quite like him and needed to find help for him. He was the reason she pursued training and after one class she was hooked. Positive reinforcement training has changed the way she lives and cares for her dogs. It gave her the skills needed for clear communication and to build and modify behavior.

Darcy began assisting classes at Gentle Touch in 2008. In 2010 she began instructing Agility classes and Elementary Clicker classes. She also began private instruction and assisted in Feisty Fido classes. In 2011, she entered the Canine Nose Work Certification Program and completed her certification as a CNWI in February of 2012. Currently, she focuses on teaching all levels of Agility and Nose Work. She offers group classes and private instruction for both sports. She also assists in Feisty Fido’s Class and has a special interest in behavior modification.

Darcy currently lives with one amazing dog, Keeper. Keeper retired from Agility in 2018 after approximately 10 years in the sport. She competed locally and achieved Master titles in AKC. Keeper currently plays and participates in K9 Nose Work and received her NW Elite 2 title in 2018.

Darcy enjoys learning and staying current with her training. She has attended many Agility, Nose Work, dog training workshops, and seminars. She has participated in many seminars hosted by Gentle Touch and others, including Kay Laurence, Susan Friedman, Ken Ramirez, Patricia McConnell, Michele Poulliot, and Steve White. She has attended several Nose Work Instructor workshops taught by the founding members of NACSW and has traveled to attend annual conferences sponsored by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), as well as Karen Pryor’s Clicker Expo. She also participates in online learning and in 2019 completed an Aggression In Dogs workshop with Michael Shikashio. She participates in online webinars and training forums on a continuing basis.

Darcy’s goals are to continue learning about dogs, listening to dogs, and helping others to do the same. She believes in giving animals a voice in their lives, in their training, and in their care.

CNWI

Dog Trainer

 
Carol Wissler

Carol has always had a passion for all animals, and, dogs.  She grew up with numerous cats, a Dachshund named Molly, various fish, and four Mallard ducks.  When other kids were reading Seventeen magazine, she poured through each new issue of Dog Fancy and memorized the dog breeds in The Encyclopedia of the Dog.

It was her cat, Draco, who first got her interested in clicker training in 2006.  As a kitten, Draco was prone to mischief and with the help of a book on how to clicker train cats, Carol was able to channel some of that energy into a few basic behaviors.

Carol adopted her first dog, Hoagie, a corgi/border collie cross, in 2009.  As a two-year-old rescue, Hoagie was bright and happy but had a few issues to work through, including on-leash reactivity towards other dogs, and the absence of any kind of recall.  In training him, it quickly became apparent that any form of forceful training only made his behavior worse.  Looking for an alternative to force- based training, Carol started to read every dog training and behavior book, video, and article she could get her hands on.

It was her past success with modifying Draco’s behavior that prompted her to try clicker training again.  Having started Hoagie in Rally Obedience training, she took Denny’s Heelwork Seminar at Teah’s facility to work on their technique and became completely hooked on positive reinforcement training.  Something “clicked” in both Carol and Hoagie’s brains when they started clicking and treating, instead of pulling and resisting.  They’ve never looked back, and continue to enjoy heelwork, Rally Obedience, K9 Nose Work, Canine Freestyle, and AKC Tricks. In July 2011, Hoagie earned his very first title, NW1 in Nose Work on his first try!  Together Carol and Hoagie have since earned NW2 titles, Rally Novice, and Advanced AKC Tricks titles.

In 2011 Carol added a second dog to her family, a terrier mix named Pretzel. He has been a whole different training experience for this trainer, but clicker training from day one made a huge difference.  His enthusiasm and zest for life have made him a pleasure to have around. Pretzel retired from agility but earned his Novice Standard and Jumpers titles.  He also completed his Novice Rally title, his NW1, and holds an Intermediate AKC tricks title. 

In 2013 Carol was thrilled to bring her first breed dog home, in the form of Eloise, a Swedish Vallhund.  Living up to her dad Blaze’s legacy, Eloise has proved to be a phenomenally versatile and exuberant partner.  She introduced Carol to the worlds of conformation, herding, barn hunt, and dog breeding.  Eloise is Carol’s first finished conformation champion and holds titles in rally, canine good citizenship, herding, barn hunt, nose work, and tricks.  Together they somehow also managed to find time to have her first litter which produced multi-titled offspring.

Carol has been taking classes at Teah’s since 2010, and started assisting in 2012 with a variety of different classes.  She began teaching classes in 2013 and puts her amazing skills to work helping families with in-home training sessions.  She’s attended many outstanding seminars and workshops at Gentle Touch and is always eager to further her knowledge about the amazing relationship we share with our dogs.  In 2017 she put all this learning to good use and became certified as a CPDT-KA (Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed).

Carol is a San Luis Obispo native with a B.A. in History from the University of Delaware. She lives in Paso Robles with her very understanding husband Stew, a variety of fish, her cat Basil Pesto, (Draco has since crossed the rainbow bridge), and three dogs, Hoagie, Pretzel, and Eloise.

CPDT-KA, CGC Evaluator

Dog Trainer

 
Betty Scattini

CNWI, CGC Evaluator

Dog Trainer

Growing up in a household that was not very pet friendly, as a child Betty was well known in the neighborhood for walking her ducks on a string and for always being the “family dog” in any childhood game of “House”. These early experiences left her with a strong desire for animals of her own when she was an adult.

Eventually, when she, her husband, and children were settled in their own home, they added a dog. Very soon, they were engrossed in conformation showing, breeding, and training their Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Dalmatians. . This was a hobby which they pursued for the next 30+ years, traveling to competitions all over the West Coast and to the Westminster Kennel Club show in New York where Betty won Best of Breed with one of their Dalmatians, Mickey Finn. They also cared for numerous rescue dogs who found their way into the Scattini household.

Betty was the primary trainer of the family and every dog was enrolled in obedience and conformation classes. Uncomfortable with the methods of training in the 1970s and ’80s, she intuitively praised her dogs and let them know when they had done something right.

Betty has been an officer of both an all-breed AKC kennel club and the national Rhodesian Ridgeback breed club. She has taught Conformation classes for her local kennel club as well as informal classes for other fanciers.  Sometime after Rally-O was introduced as an AKC sport, Betty taught her ridgebacks the basics which enabled them to title easily in the Novice Rally-O class, each of them earning first placements with high scores.

In 2000, with a young, very intelligent ridgeback who needed positive motivation and a job to do, Betty stumbled upon Teah’s clicker class and knew she had found a way of training she could wholeheartedly embrace. Shortly thereafter, she also discovered the sport of dog agility and those two experiences have shaped her life since then.

Having clicker trained her ridgebacks in agility for the past twelve years, it was fun and natural for Betty to begin assisting in the novice agility classes at Gentle Touch.  She has also assisted with the Puppy Preschool, Puppy Enrichment, Elementary Clicker Training, Feisty Fido, Rally-O, and Nose Work classes.  Betty is now teaching Nose Work Classes and helping with in-home private sessions.

Her latest passion, K9 Nose Work, is a relatively new sport which is offered at Gentle Touch. Betty has completed a one-year program with NACSW and is now a CNWI (Certified Nose Work Instructor).  Betty and her dogs have been taking classes for several years and compete in trials at every opportunity. Her second ridgeback to compete in Nose Work, Ranger, is currently working towards earning his NW3 title. At ten years old, it is a fun and exciting sport for Ranger which keeps his mind engaged and is easy on his aging body.

The newest workshop being offered at Gentle Touch is one that Betty is very enthusiastic about and has been involved with since its inception. Offered several times a year, it is an intensive 16-hour workshop on therapy dog training that focuses on preparing the handler and dog for various therapy environments as well as therapy skills and protocols. These teams look forward to visiting patients in assisted living facilities and bringing added joy to their lives.

Betty has long been interested in learning the various theories of dog training. She has attended seminars given by Ken Ramirez, Kay Laurence, Ron Gaunt, Elicia Calhoun, Chris Bach, and others. She has read many books on general dog training, clicker training, and positive motivation and has used that knowledge with the dogs she helps to train.

 
Wesley Bird

Dog Trainer

Wesley has been training and educating dogs since 2015. He has worked with many breeds, and specializes in Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers. He is an AKC Canine Good Citizen Approved Evaluator and currently in the process of becoming a Victoria Stilwell Licensed Trainer.

 

Since 2016 he has focused on teaching service dogs and facility dogs for the New Life K9s Service Dog Program at the California Men’s Colony (CMC). Wesley also developed training manuals and taught incarcerated men at CMC to become dog handlers for New Life K9s.

 

Wesley believes in positive reinforcement and bond-based choice teaching methods only. He does not believe in any averse methods including choke-chains, shock collars, etc. He has a huge love for dogs, he is patient, thorough, kind, and unbiased.

 

In Wesley’s free time he enjoys creating beautiful pieces of art, including portraits of dogs! Wesley has a degree in Human Development/Human Services with a background in social behavioral sciences. Wesley is eager to learn and is constantly educating himself on new dog training innovations.

© 2021 by Son Care Foundation, Inc.

Gentle Touch Pet Training

805-481-1490

173 Buckley Road

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

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