Annie Phenix, Chair and Founder
Professional dog trainer Annie Phenix is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with BA in English. She grew up near Austin writing for her family’s weekly newspapers (The Westlake Picayune, among others) and has been an award-winning, professional journalist for 35 years. Phenix was named The Austin Communicator of the Year in 2000. As a working journalist and the previous owner of a literary publicity firm (Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists), Phenix has worked with all forms of media from small town weeklies to national programs such as “The Today Show” and the “Oprah Winfrey Show.”
She began her career working with dogs in the early 1990s as a behavior consultant and trainer for a large Austin, Texas non-profit dog rescue group. She has fostered more than 400 dogs since that time. Phenix wrote a dynamic dog training column for Dogster Magazine for several years and she was often the most read writer for Dogster.com. She is the author of the popular book, The Midnight Dog Walkers: Positive Training and Practical Advice for Living with Reactive and Aggressive Dogs (Fox Chapel Publishing, 2016). Her book was nominated for a Maxwell Award for best behavior book of the year by the Dog Writers Association of America. Her second canine behavior book has been on the bestseller lists for two years: Positive Training for Aggressive and Reactive Dogs: Proven Techniques to Help Your Dog from Fear and Anxiety and Enjoy Walks Again (CompanionHouse Books, Sept. 2022). Her articles written about dogs have been printed in well over 100 publications, including Bark Magazine, Barks from the Guild, Lucky Puppy, INTO Dogs, The Mountain Mail, Pet Perennials, The Durango Herald, Simply Dogs, Coast Dogs Training, Rover.com, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, Fear Free Happy Homes, International Canine Behaviourists, Dr. Andy Roark, and others. She is the owner of Phenix Dogs Canine Behavior Experts.
Over her career as a behavior counselor for troubled dogs, she has achieved many certifications including Certified Canine Behaviourist (INTODogs), Family Dog Mediator (FDM), CPDT-KA (Retired), Fear Free Certified Professional, Graduate of a Schutzhund Dog Academy, CGC Evaluator and others. She has belonged to several professional organizations such as The Pet Professional Guild, The Pet Industry Advocacy International, The UK Dog Charter, The National Association of Canine Scent Work and Fear Free Certified Professionals. She is a lifetime advocate of training dogs without the need for fear, force or pain and with compassion and science-backed methods. She divides her time between Durango, Colorado and Heber City, Utah. She loves taking long mountain hikes with her husband, Jeff, and their two sibling cattle-collie dogs, Finn and Cooper.
Katherine Porter, Treasurer
Katherine Porter is a Board Member of the Phenix Advocacy Center, she’s a certified dog trainer who is also a BodyMind Coach and has her Master’s in Social Work. Katherine is the owner of Four Paws & You Dog Training LLC where she supports her clients in understanding the social and emotional needs of their dogs and guides her clients in finding humane and dog friendly ways to connect with their companions. Katherine is also a child welfare expert and supports children and families in abuse and neglect prevention measures. Katherine’s unique understanding of child welfare and being a trauma informed practitioner in a human service field is carried through within her dog training and behavior consulting practice. Katherine’s motto for understanding and educating others on behavior change is “slow is smooth and smooth is fast”.
As a BodyMind Coach, Katherine serves clients in recognizing how their patterns and beliefs about themselves directs their habits and actions with themselves, with others and even within the relationship they have with their companion dogs. Katherine supports her coaching clients in listening to their bodies and to align themselves to who they want to be, so their actions can directly reflect their desires. Katherine supports all of her clients in understanding their own Body Mind Connection, so they can experience more freedom, authenticity and inspiration.
Katherine grew up in Connecticut and was a stand out soccer player for AYSO, travel and premier leagues as well as in high school. Katherine earned a scholarship to play D1 soccer at Marquette University. Soccer gave Katherine an outlet and an opportunity to develop skills which propelled her towards her goals. Soccer supported Katherine’s resiliency in surviving a mother who suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder which contributed to a chaotic and abusive childhood which impacted her ability to create close and trusting relationships at an early age. Due to Katherine’s inherent drive for change and growth and seeking connection with others, Katherine developed a high degree of emotional intelligence which she harnessed the power to create empathetic relationships with others on a professional and personal level.
After graduating college in 2001, Katherine began her career in the Social Work field where she lived and worked in a boys group home serving disenfranchised youth by dismantling barriers to education while supporting youth in creating their stepping stones out of poverty and limiting beliefs about their opportunities. Katherine is focused on serving individuals and families while also advocating for cultural and societal changes. Katherine moved into an advocacy role and lobbied nationally for more equitable laws for women and children with the Sisters of the Good Shepherd’s National Advocacy Center. Katherine graduated with her MSW in 2006. During her final years of her graduate program, Katherine completed a practicuum with the Division of Unaccompanied Children Services within the Administration of Children and Families at the federal level. This unique experience led her into serving unaccompanied and refugee youth entering the United States where she became a national placement coordinator for undocumented and refugee youth into culturally and linguistically appropriate foster care with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Catholic Charities network. Katherine then moved into an advocacy role at the United Nations where she co created a working group on trafficked children and highlighted the plight of girl child in our world and the vulnerability of being a woman in a patriarchial society on an international stage.
In 2009, Katherine met her husband Red and Katherine became a military spouse. Katherine and Red adopted their dog, Jack in 2011 while Katherine grew up with Crystal, the family sheep dog mix, Katherine had no idea what was in store for her and Red. Jack shook things up for them at home. Jack suffered from separation anxiety, insecure attachment, leash and stranger reactivity and Katherine saw Jack’s need to have relief from the emotional distress, but wasn’t sure where to begin. Her desire for growth, she took the step in prioritizing Jack’s welfare and sought out ways to help Jack change. Katherine became a dog trainer, sought tutelage from humane and force free practitioners local to her who also became fast friends.
As Katherine developed her skills, deepened her knowledge and promoted humane methods,
Katherine didn’t know it at the time, but Jack’s healing also brought tremendous healing for Katherine too. Katherine began to understand that meeting the emotional needs of our dogs, also helped her to recognize, prioritize and advocate for her own emotional needs. The clarity in feeling the power of leveraging our and our dog’s emotional selves set the stage for Katherine’s current consulting and coaching practice. Katherine recognized her unique empathetic gifts healed Jack’s emotional trauma and at the same time, healed hers too. Katherine highlights the symbiotic nature of the close and loving relationships can have for us in our own healing journey’s.
Katherine developed a value centered practice where connection to others, dogs and humans is number one. Katherine can be reached for coaching by setting up a Discovery Call.
Debbie Sheridan, Secretary
Debbie Sheridan began her career with a degree in Sociology inspired by a fascination with the incredible Jane Goodall. Instead of an exciting trip to the bush, Debbie counseled human adolescents and then went on to help adults with substance dependency.
When she brought home two malnourished and fearful littermates from a shelter in Vermont, she knew that it was time to give up the book club books and dive into learning all that she could to help these amazing creatures in an ethical and humane way.
Debbie completed the University of Washington Applied Animal Behavior program consisting of Principles of AAB, Comparative Animal Behavior and AAB in practice. This program is part of the American Association of Veterinary State Boards Registry of approved continuing education.
Debbie has completed Michael Shikashio’s Aggression in Dogs Master Course. She is a licensed Family Dog Mediator and an End of Life Doula for Companion Animals through UVM. She is a Certified Bite Prevention Educator through DogNostics and she has completed and taken part in countless conferences, webinars and programs, including Dr Laura Donaldson’s Slow Thinking is Life Saving for Dogs program.
She has found her place with like minded humans who want to change the world for our 4 legged loved ones, helping them to be heard and understood. Debbie is an administrator in Annie Phenix’s Midnight Dog Walker Facebook group.
Debbie is a Pet Professional Guild member, sitting on the Advocacy and the Inclusivity committees and she serves on the advisory committee of NOMV which our fabulous PAC program was modeled after. Debbie is proud to be a new PAC board member and excited to make a difference in 2024.
She vows to never stop learning!
She works primarily with fearful and anxious dogs, some in court situations who need extra understanding. Debbie volunteers with an area rescue as well as her local pound where she is always on call for her animal control officers.
She delivers goodies to veterinarians when she’s not visiting clients or hanging with her own family which include husband Dave, 4 human children, one fabulous daughter in law, 3 fun loving human grandchildren, 2 rescue dogs, therapy dog Sally and afraid of the world, Fitzy and 3 rescued granddogs, Millie, Summer and Maisey. All are loved for who they are.