Robyn Andexser Owner, Lead Trainer
Best Paw Forward Dog Training was founded by Robyn Andexser (and Rudy) in 2006. Robyn has worked with animals since she was just fifteen years old, beginning her animal training career with Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins and African Black footed Penguins. After moving to Nanaimo in 2005, Robyn expanded into the dog training world and studied all levels of obedience, dog care, behaviour problems, dog aggression, protection training, police K9 and search and rescue. She achieved her certification as a Master Dog Trainer. Robyn is a graduate from the Animal Care Aide program at Vancouver Island University and is also a Certified Instructor for DOGSAFE Canine First Aid and now teaches the comprehensive course here in Nanaimo. Robyn began her training career with her dog Rudy, a miniature Schnauzer who was a present one Christmas morning, and a very wise soul. He guided her to be calm, patient and to listen to what he wanted to teach her each moment as well. Together they wanted to share this connection with other dogs and their humans, and Best Paw Forward was created. Rudy left this dimension at age 13 in 2015, but his presence can be felt all around as the original demo dog for Best Paw Forward. There is still a demo dog in Robyn’s life, and that is Ty, the 8 year old border collie mix. Together they lead the Outdoor Adventure and Off Leash hiking classes, as well as the Dogsafe Canine First Aid course.
Tressia Toole Lead Trainer
Lead trainer Tressia brings great knowledge and over a decade of experience to her classes. She has been working with dogs from the young age of 12 when she received her first puppy for Christmas, and that puppy, Sugar, truly brought out her passion to work with and train dogs. Tressia’s passion is agility, and she has been doing agility for more than 12 years right here in Nanaimo. She has achieved many high level agility awards, with her most current being 6th place at Nationals in August of 2015 which earned her and Jetta a spot on the Canadian World Agility team. They competed in Amsterdam in Spring of 2016 at their first, but certainly not their last, World Agility Finals. Tressia is a Certified Dog Trainer through the Karen Pryor Dog Training Academy. She teaches all levels of our classes as well as private lessons. She is owned by her 2 wonderful dogs Rift the Shepherd cross and Jetta the Border Collie. In 2017, the most recent addition to Tressia’s and the Best Paw Forward team, Sparks the border collie, joined the pack.
Quincey Ross Trainer
Quincey and her 2 dogs, Brody and Osa, make a great team and have demonstrated that together they are great teachers, leaders and examples. You may recognize Quincey and her dogs on the trails around town, where she leads groups of dogs on off-leash group hikes. Quincey and Brody attended Best Paw Forward classes together when he was a puppy. It was Brody who brought out Quincey’s passion for training dogs and taught her that building a positive relationship with your dog is the first step to a harmonious life together and helps make the training process easier. Together Quincey and Brody have received their Novice, Intermediate & Advanced Trick Dog Titles and created the Trick dog class to teach others to have FUN with their dogs. Osa, the Australian Shepherd, brings great energy and tons of personality to Quincey’s classes. Together Quincey and Osa are learning and now competing in agility. Quincey thoroughly enjoys helping educate owners on how to build a strong lifelong relationship with their canine companions.
Karen Hoard Trainer, Assistant Manager
Karen’s lifelong fascination with and love for animals led her to start volunteering with the SPCA at age 9 and in 2011, she began a career working closely with them at the Nanaimo Veterinary Hospital. Over the years, she has cared for a variety of pets, but it wasn’t until she got her first dog that she discovered her passion for dog training. Since then, Karen has dedicated herself to the study of dog behaviour and training, both practical and theoretical. Along with her Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Archer, she has been through the Best Paw Forward curriculum, as well as agility and tracking courses. In Spring 2016, Karen’s family grew by one more when Cypress the spaniel mix rescue dog joined her pack. Adopting Cypress has provided Karen with more insight into working with rescue dogs and the unique challenges that adopting an adult dog brings. Karen is particularly interested in canine behaviour and communication, and how a knowledge of these can forge partnerships that are rewarding, fulfilling and fun for people and their dogs..
Micailyn Forrester ‘Tiny Tykes’ Trainer
Micailyn and her awesome little dogs bring great energy to our training team! Micailyn began taking Best Paw Forward classes with her chihuahua/terrier mix Roxie after she adopted her from the Victoria SPCA. Together they took all of our classes and worked hard on their training. Roxie was very shy and nervous but has come out of her shell with confidence and is a great example of what little dogs can accomplish with the right training. Not long after Roxie’s accomplishments came Tia – a Californian Chihuahua through the organization Paws without Borders. Now Roxie and Tia are best friends and learn from one another. All three of these girls will lead our Tiny Tykes Class and Small Dog Playgroup on Thursday nights.
Sarah Anne Lane Trainer
Sarah Lane joined our team in 2016 as our Scent Detection Trainer and has since branched out to teach our Canine Good Neighbour and Fine Tune Fido classes. She shares her life with her husband and two wonderful Belgian Shepherds, Sammy and Dillon. Over the past eleven years, Sarah, Sammy and Dillon have trained in a variety of sports, focusing mostly on Obedience and Rally. More recently, Sarah and the boys have taken up Sport Scent Detection, a relatively new sport for pet dogs that is based on the same training for working detector dogs. Sarah is a strong advocate for the importance of giving our pet dogs rich, fulfilling lives through activities that provide not only physical exercise but mental exercise as well. For the past eight years, Sarah has shared her passion for working with dogs by teaching Pet Manners classes and has now moved into teaching us all about Scent Detection. Sarah is certified by the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (www.nadoi.org). We are thrilled to have her teaching all of us and our amazing clients!
Jessica Salapura Assistant Trainer
Jessica fell in love with dog training as soon as she brought her Red Nose Pit-bull/American Bulldog home as a puppy. Pearl is a very gentle and sweet girl and has worked incredibly hard with Jessica to learn complex tricks and agility. Yes, even Pit bulls can play agility! Jessica and Pearl have taken all of our classes throughout the years, which facilitated a deep relationship between the two of them and helped Pearl pass her Canine Good Neighbour test. Jessica wants to encourage dog owners to put in the time and effort with training, as she is proof that you can make a great dog of any breed.
Bonnie Hussell Assistant Trainer
Bonnie has had a strong passion for all animals since she was a small child. Growing up on an acreage in Alberta, she was surrounded by animals of all kinds, from dogs, cats and bunnies to horses, goats, sheep, cows, chickens and pigs. At the young age of eight, she started her own pet sitting and dog walking business caring for animals of all kinds while learning from them and studying their individual personalities. In Alberta, she worked for breeders, trainers, dog daycares, and grooming and boarding facilities. In 2005, she moved to Vancouver Island and found a job at Dog n’ Suds Pet Services Ltd as a dog daycare supervisor and groomer. She moved on to work as a veterinary hospital receptionist, then joined the Best Paw Forward team in November of 2017. Bonnie is a proud mom to her five furkids: Dogs Darko and Harlem, and cats Ravage, Deunan and Frenzy. Bonnie has always been fascinated by animal behaviour and the bonds formed between man and beast and is excited to continue her animal based career in positive reinforcement training.
Katherine Mitton Assistant Trainer
Kat has recently joined our team and she brings passion and constant joy
with her everywhere she goes. Her dogs are a 2 year old German Shorthaired Pointer mix Harley, and a new Border Collie puppy named Rubix. Harley is Kat’s first dog and together they have jumped in and fallen in love with playing and training. They joined us for a 1 year training membership when Harley was a puppy and have completed all of our classes – many more than once! Some favorites were Really Reliable Recall, Leash Skills, Scent Detection, Confident Canine – but their favorite by far has been FUN! Agility.
By the age of 2, Harley and Kat achieved many Agility titles including their ADC SGDC AADC and MADC. The proudest moment for their team was qualifying for Nationals at their very first Regional Competition. Kat hopes to one day compete for team Canada with her new puppy Rubix. The trainers at Best Paw forward have taught Kat so much over the last few years and Kat continues to learn and study how to be a better trainer every day. She is working towards this goal!
In addition to training, Kat, Harley and Rubix love to adventure – hiking, paddle boarding, biking, camping… you name it, they do it together. Kat takes them everywhere feeling happy and confident after completing her Dogsafe Canine First Aid. You will see her assisting classes regularly and she hopes to have her very own classes you can take one day.