About Iris And Her Team
The reason for my passion for dogs is Cito, my German shepherd. In his early years, I trained and competed with Cito on a national Schutzhund level.
Schutzhund (German for “protection dog”) is a dog sport that was developed in Germany in the early 1900s as a breed suitability test for the German shepherd dog. The test determines if the dog displays the appropriate traits and characteristics of a proper working German shepherd dog. Today, it is used as a sport where many breeds other than German shepherd dogs can compete.
During that time we trained with some of the best police dog, military dog, and competition dog trainers in the country and attended dozens of seminars on dog training, dog behavior, and dog health. At the same time, Cito and I became a certified therapy dog team visiting senior citizens in nursing homes, teaching young children to read, and teaching children how to approach and pet dogs.
Additionally, I became active in the dog rescue community walking dogs, fostering dogs, integrating dogs in their new families, training dogs with behavioral issues and raising money for rescue groups. That is when we met, fostered and adopted Shelby, our Rottweiler girl, in 2008 and Gracie, our Pit Bull girl in 2015. I admit, we are not good foster people because we also “foster failed” Deno, Sunny, and Queeny.
To continue my studies and hone my skills, I completed a Dog Behaviour and Psychology course with the London School of Trends LTD, London, UK. I also completed my certification as a Pet Food Nutrition Specialist and a Raw Dog Food Nutrition Specialist. I took classes in animal communication led by Marta Williams and currently, I pursue a certification program in animal energy.
My approach to dog and dog owner training is very holistic. I don’t just look at the dog’s behavior in isolation but include the environment, lifestyle, and breed in the solution. To inquire about my training support, fill out this email inquiry or call (770) 428-2334.
My goal is to share my knowledge and experience about dogs, to empower dog owners and to fill the gaps that give you the power to provide a long-term and happy home for your dog.
About The Team
On May 3, 2015 we rescued Deno through Friends to the Forlorn. He was a stray dog with severe Demodex mange and his entire body was covered in motor oil. Needless to say, healing his body from this traumatic event wasn’t easy but he is finally healthy and absolutely beautiful, inside and out.
Deno is an ultra-sweet and awesome 5-year-old boy who also goes by the name of Pit Buerr. He is very obedient, playful but also serious.
For more than three years he looked for his forever family who has been there for him all along – us. And so in September of 2018 we adopted him.
He has proven himself that he is the new puppy coach in town. He loves to play with the foster pups that come to our home and teach them fun, boundaries, and courage.
Sunny is just the sweetest dog you can imagine. She loves all people and is friendly to all dogs.
Sunny was rescued because she gave birth to three puppies in the shelter on January 10, 2017. Unfortunately, two of the puppies died before we committed to fostering her. Thankfully, we were able to save her and her puppy Queeny.
At that time, she was heartworm positive and she also had the tip of an arrow head in her side. The arrow head had to be removed in an emergency surgery and we were able to heal her body from heartworms with natural products.
Sunny is always by my side and just looking at her makes me smile and be grateful for having her.
Queeny is Sunny’s only daughter who survived the shelter life. We took her in when she was just five days old.
Once she turned 9 weeks, we introduced her to Deno and ever since then they have been best friends. From Mondays to Thursdays they go to work at our fitness studio and they are in charge of delighting the customers with their play and sweetness.
Queeny is just the best – she is obedient, she is funny, she is snuggly, and she gets along will all humans and dogs.
Her DNA test revealed that she is 64% Staffordshire Terrier, 12% German shepherd, 12% Chow Chow and 12% sporting dog.
When we decided to adopt Deno, we had to ensure that he had his best friend by his side. So we adopted Queeny for Deno.
The Alumni Team
Our team wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t mention and feature our alumni team, Cito, Barko, Shelby, and Gracie. Because of them, we are who we are today. They made us be passionate about dogs; they challenged us to improve our training and widen our knowledge.
Even though they are not with us in body anymore, I know they are always with us in spirit.
Cito was my dog! A beautiful, confident, regal and absolutely adorable German Shepherd. Before we acquired Cito, I had no clue about dogs. But that changed quickly. Early one, my husband and I were actively involved in his training. At a young age of just 18 months, he accomplished his Schutzhund 1 and AD (endurance test) certification. At 23 months, he acquired his Schutzhund 3 certification. Over the years, Cito repeated his Schutzhund 3 trial several times and in 2005 he came into 2nd place in the Universal Sieger Show. Cito also accomplished both tracking certificates FH1 and FH2 and in 2006 he was certified as a Therapy Dog.
Cito and Barko experienced a very active life with us. We traveled to Germany together; we hiked through many Georgia parks, and we also traveled all over the Southeastern US to attend dog training and personal protection seminars. He also visited senior citizen homes to bring joy to the community and he also joined me in schools, and kindergartens to teach young children how to be responsible around dogs. He was always my sidekick when I gave seminars.
Cito transitioned on June 17, 2015 at the age of 14 years old. I miss his beautiful face and strong presence every day.
Barko was our 2nd German Shepherd that we brought into the family. He came into our life as a puppy, and it was an absolute pleasure for us to take care of him. He was from the so-called “East German line” which is known for the big head, strong bones, and reactive temperament.
Barko was early introduced to the Schutzhund sport. We trained him with clicker training from the ground up and as a result, his obedience was always pretty and solid. He accomplished all the three levels with high scores.
In his spare time, he liked to hike, chase the ball and swim. As soon as Barko saw a lake, river, or stream, he always had to test the water temperature.
Barko transitioned on Sunday, March 6, 2016 at the age of 13 due to bloat. But we believe he died of a broken heart. He was never the same after Cito passed. We should never underestimate the feelings and the grieving that animals experience.
Shelby was the sweetest Rottweiler. She came into our lives when she was 2 years old. She was our first foster dog. Shelby was found on the side of the road with a big chain around her neck and an animal trap on her left hind leg. The injury was severe and as a result, her leg was amputated immediately. When I first met her at the rescue group, she was very timid and I immediately noticed that she had very little socialization. And so we hired our German shepherds to be her therapists. Needless to say, she liked them and they liked her; so we made her part of our little pack.
Even though Shelby had only 3 legs, it never held her back to enjoy life and long hikes through the woods.
Shelby loved to eat, play with toys and play with other dogs. We called her our “puppy coach” since she was a really good teacher for young puppies.
At the age of 12 years old, she sustained an injury on her only hind leg that we just couldn’t heal and on March 6, 2018, we had to say good-bye to her. She was a one-of-a-kind dog and I miss her every day.
Gracie was another timid dog that was stuck in a kill shelter in Atlanta. I saw her video on Facebook, and an urgent plea for her rescue was made. Through Friends to the Forlorn, we started fostering her.
Gracie was a “mature” Pit Bull (mature meaning we didn’t know how old she was), but it was a delight to have her. We never really had to train her, she fit right into our pack. As long as she had a soft bed and a regular meal, Gracie was content. Eventually, she came really out of her shell. And she enjoyed greeting humans and belly rubs.
She was the kind of dog that didn’t like to get her hair messy; if she had to choose between exercise and relaxation, she chose a warm sunbath in the yard before a walk in the park.
Over time Gracie developed dementia and had little interest in living. We never knew how old she was but in the end, her body and her mind were tired.
On May 20, 2019, we set her free.