It sounds sort of silly to some people, but being with dogs relies heavily on being present and having the right energy. Dogs sense when you’re scared, uncomfortable, stressed, nervous, worked-up or distracted.
The Circle Pack
Olive Moya is the founder and owner of The Circle Pack, a dog pack-walking service in the south Denver area. She is also an artist with her BFA from Otis College of Art and Design. She works as a painter, muralist and hand-letterer in Denver.
Tell us about your own dog, who was the inspiration for your work as a dog trainer.
We’ve had my Australian shepherd, Axl, since he was a puppy. He has always been difficult, high-strung and dominant. When we had our son, we researched how to introduce them, and we tried so hard to do everything right. Shortly after, he bit my dad and my husband and growled at multiple people who got near my son. I knew that if we didn’t figure out a solution, Axl would end up either at a rescue shelter or being put down. My best friend, who lived back home in Los Angeles, had dealt with aggression with her own dog, and the only person who could help her was a man named Brandon Fouche. We called Brandon and worked our butts off doing everything he told us. We worked our butts off, but Axl hasn’t bitten anyone since and is a vastly different dog. That same friend worked as a pack walker with The Healing Pack in L.A. She talked me into trying pack-walking here in Colorado.
What does your typical workday look like?
First I load up my car with leashes, water, muzzles, poop bags, etc., and cover every surface with seat and cargo protective mats. It’s a messy job. Then I drop off the baby at Grandma’s house and start my pickups. From the moment the dogs see me until the moment I drop them off, I must be clear and consistent. They trust me for that reason; there are no surprises and no confusion. Each dog I pick up knows the drill. Once we’ve picked up everyone, we head to our walking spot. I leash and unload each pup according to how calm they are. We start walking, and the real work begins. We walk fairly slowly because it really doesn’t matter how far we get. With my pack, it’s about draining them mentally. They need to focus on walking behind me, respecting me as the leader as opposed to being a predator I ask for them to work, which means their mind must be focused instead of aimlessly sniffing, looking for animals like prairie dogs, marking, playing with the other dogs. I drop each dog off and go home to vacuum up bags full of hair and Windex slobber from my windows. But that’s just the physical work. A lot of my time is spent doing free evaluations or training sessions for owners, texting or calling them when they have questions.
You're also an artist. How does your work as an artist complement your work as a dog trainer?
Many times, making art can be meditative. I’m moving my hand, getting into a flow and staying in the present moment. Even to be creative sometimes you have to get some space from the ideas and do something completely different for them to come, seemingly from nowhere. Being an artist has taught me a lot about knowing when and how to let go and live in the moment, and when and how to put in the work and push through even when its uncomfortable. It sounds sort-of silly to some people, but being with dogs relies heavily on being present and having the right energy. Dogs sense when you’re scared, uncomfortable, stressed, nervous, worked-up or distracted.
Codi Bair and Her Pig, Leilani
A Colorado native, Codi Bair holds a degree in equine entrepreneurship and is an equestrian trainer and owner of Legacy Equestrians.
Tell us how you came to own a pig. What's he like?
He was a Christmas present. It was something I had always wanted since I was little. Leilani is very much like a little diva. He likes things his way and loves to cuddle. He is too smart. I have to put a lock on the fridge so he doesn't open it, and he can go in and out of a doggy door.
What's it like taking him out?
Whenever we leave, we get stopped multiple times on the street. People will stop their cars in the middle of the road, or better yet, turn around in the street, park and come and say hi to him. I haven't met another pet pig, but one of my colleagues also got one because she fell in love with mine.
What's the best part of having Leilani?
I never have food that goes to waste. He is like a little garbage disposal. It is also nice to come home every day and have him to cuddle with. It's also nice because when I do take him out, it brightens other people's day.
Mia Harrington and Her Horse, Mo
Mia Harrington, 13, of Highlands Ranch and her horse, Mo, train in Parker and ride in Colorado Hunter Jumper Association competitions.
"I tried many other activities before horses—soccer, gymnastics, dance and guitar. Nothing stuck until horses," she says.
Mia has been taking lessons in Parker through Legacy Equestrians since 2017.
Tell us a little about your horse.
My horse is Misty’s Rainstorm, but we call him Mo. He is a 13-year-old Chincoteague pony. His great-grandmother was Misty of Chincoteague, the subject of the book series by Marguerite Henry. Ponies can be stubborn and feisty, but Mo is very sweet and calm, even at horse shows. His only fault is that he can be a little lazy sometimes. He likes to roll in the pasture and get really dirty.
What's the best part of horse training?
The best thing about this sport is working with horses. They are such smart animals, but you can never be sure what they will do or how they will react in every situation.
Describe a scary time learning to jump horses.
Before I got Mo, I rode my trainer’s horses. I used to ride Foxy, a very small pony with a lot of personality who loves to jump. When I was first learning to jump really small jumps, we were trotting by a big jump, and she decided to dart over and jump it. I didn’t fall off. Fortunately, I just slid forward and dangled by my arms from her neck.