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Partners in Canine was founded in 2019 to offer one of kind training programs to people and dogs in Southern Maine. The name of the company was inspired by the relationship that Merri and Meg have developed with each other, with their own dogs, and the dogs and handlers they work with every day...a true partnership. Merri and Meg have a combined 17 years of experience training dogs and strive to educate themselves and the people around them.  They believe in relationship based training that is built on clear communication and balanced and fair boundaries.

Get to Know Us!

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Merri Button

I've had a passion for animals for as long as I can remember. In third grade I wrote in my year book that I wanted to be a zoologist when I grew up, by the time I hit high school and college it had changed to a marine mammal trainer. In 2004, I attended the University of New England and studied animal behavior as well as volunteered and interned at a variety of aquariums. In 2008, I graduated with a B.S in psychobiology with a minor in marine biology and shortly after accepted a job as an assistant beluga whale trainer at the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut. The position was only temporary, so in January 2009 my fiancé Tom and I moved back to Maine so he could attend nursing school.  

There were no aquariums or zoos in Maine, so I figured while Tom was in school I would find other forms of work with animals. I started off working at a doggie daycare and shadowing the dog trainer there, later teaching my own classes and lessons when she opened up her own dog training studio.  I met Meg when she was interning and we immediately connected, and have been training dogs together ever since. Even when we each opened our own businesses, we would collaborate on classes and cases, always bouncing ideas off of each other. We finally decided to combine our knowledge, experience and passion for training and Partners in Canine was formed!

I live with my husband Tom, 4 year old daughter Nora, 3 month old daughter Shyla and my two brindles Meka Mae (12 y) and Opus Jenkins (Opi, 7y) in Standish, ME. My dogs and I have dabbled and competed in many different dog sports including Rally-O, Competition Obedience, Weight Pull, Flyball, Scent Work and Barn Hunt. We are currently working towards our Social Responsibility title for GRC Dog Sports.

At Partners In Canine, we strive to offer a full spectrum of activities, sports, and training for you and your dog. Here are some awesome folks who help round out our team!

Meg Terrio 

I got my start with animals as a young kid in Girl Scouts working during the summertime with the horses at camp outside of Atlanta, GA. I found my passion for training with the horses and worked for many years as an instructor providing riding lessons to kids. After I moved to South Florida in my early twenties, I discovered I had a knack for helping people with their dogs. This hobby quickly became my job and rapidly became my passion. I started seeking certifications and looking to learn from leaders in the industry. In 2014, I moved to Maine with my husband Alex, and shortly after that I met Merri. Although we both had our own businesses, we continued to cooperatively teach alongside one another until it became evident that joining our efforts would maximize our ability to help more people and their dogs. Hence, Partners in Canine was born!

I currently live in Sebago, ME with my two dogs: Jamaica (11 yrs, boxer mix) and Cable (2 yr, GSD) my loving husband, and my six year old daughter, Natalie - and our 8 month old daughter Ripley! I enjoy all dog sports, and actively participate in GRC and a few different bite sports with my shepherd. 

Image by Cole Patrick
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At Partners In Canine, we strive to offer a full spectrum of activities, sports, and training for you and your dog.

 

Meet the amazing humans that help to round out our team!

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Kayla Mooers-Shirokova
Apprentice Trainer/Day Camp Counselor

Throughout my whole life, I’ve grown up with tons of different animals (dogs, cats, hamsters, a horse, even a couple hedgehogs). I’ve always felt passionate towards animals, but it wasn’t until after I graduated college that I decided to actually pursue a career with animals. 

I graduated from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine in 2019 with a BS in Biology and a BA in Psychology on the track to becoming a neurologist, but by the end of my time there I realized I was in the wrong field and that I wanted to work with animals instead. My family was very supportive of my change in career and encouraged me to do what would make me happy. 

At the end of February 2019, I adopted my third dog, Link. We bonded very quickly, but it was obvious that she lacked confidence and showed a lot of reactive behaviors. I was told over and over by those that met her that I should give up on her, but I was determined to help her and give her a happy life. So, in August 2019, I met with Meg and Merri to learn more about how I could help my dogs. Link now has tons of dog friends at day camp and she gets so many compliments when we go out. Since then, I’ve been determined to learn as much as I can about training dogs so that I can help others the way Meg and Merri helped me. 

I currently live in Limington with Nahla (8 yrs, GSD), Jack (5 yrs, yellow lab), Link (3 yrs, aussie), and my husband Maksim. I am working on teaching our dogs more advanced training, and have recently been working with them on agility and scent tracking.

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Mackenzie Dugas
Apprentice Trainer/Day Camp Counselor

Animals have always been a passion of mine from the beginning. Even though most of my family aren’t animal people, I believe this made my passion grow even stronger! From my first cat, Jazz, to horseback riding every weekend there was no turning back! Once I started volunteering with animals I found my first pup, a 5 year old Chihuahua mix, Colada. The day I saw her I just knew. She was mine and that was it!

     I graduated from Essex Agricultural and Technical High School with a major in companion animal and pet shop management which brought me to a college degree in animal science. I have never thought of doing anything else but working with animals. In the fall of 2020 I found Partners in Canine and have had an amazing experience working with and continuing to learn from Meg and Merri to become a trainer  myself.

     I currently reside in Portland with my Border Collie, Sebastian. My dream dog was always a Border Collie due to their personality, energy, and intelligence. I look forward to doing lots of training with him and getting into agility in the near future.

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Cody Bernard
Trainer/Day Camp Counselor

I’ve had animals my entire life, everything from fish to reptiles to cats and dogs so I’ve always been passionate about animals. I decided back in my middle school year that it would be a dream of mine to have a career working with them. Fast forward to 2016, I adopted a shelter dog with a lot of behavioral issues and it sparked my passion to learn more about training dogs, specifically with high anxiety and other similar issues. 

In the beginning of 2020 I found Merri and Meghan and have been learning from them ever since and am currently in my journey to become an independent trainer. 

I live in Sebago with my Wife, Quinn, my 3 dogs, Cooper (8 year old Staffordshire Terrier mix), Comet (5 year old Australian Shepherd mix), and Kai (6 month old Australian Shepherd). We avidly participate in a multitude of outdoor activities, primarily hiking. I’m also looking forward to competing with Kai in some competitive sports in the future.

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Noelle Libby
No Frills Dog Training
Day Camp Counselor

Noelle Libby is a dog trainer who promotes a balanced training style centered around the relationship between dog and handler. She helps clients learn how to communicate effectively and use positive reinforcement to build a relationship that enriches the lives of both the owner and their animal. Noelle enjoys working with other trainers as both a student and a collaborator, and in this way is constantly growing her own practice and learning what works and what doesn’t.

 

Noelle has always owned “bully” breeds and is a purposeful breeder of bullmastiffs and English bulldogs. She is motivated by finding ways to put their natural drive to work and helps her dogs have their lives enriched by this drive rather than frustrated by it. Noelle believes there is a place for both rescue adoption and ethically bred puppies, and owns both. A lifetime animal and nature lover, she is happiest when she’s working with her own dogs or helping other people learn how to coexist with their dogs. She is motivated to help people build a sense of clarity around dog behavior and learn how to change their own behavior while shaping the behavior of their animal.

 

In addition to dog training, Noelle is a photographer and artist. She has given up wedding photography in favor of pet portraits, and loves capturing the personality of animals on film. She lives on a small farm in New Gloucester, where she maintains a herd of dairy goats, too many chickens, and a few rabbits. Noelle homeschools her three boys; Oliver, Milo, and Simon. She and her husband, Derek, have an endless stream of projects in the works, including aspirations for a Board and Train space on their property.

 

Noelle enjoys doing private lessons catered to the dog and handlers  individual needs, group classes, guided pack walks, and puppy play groups. She is currently working on her Master’s Class with CATCH. Noelle is pleased to have found her own pack through GRC dogsports and the trainers at Partners in Canine. She has found her people here, and looks forward to endless years of learning and growing as she ages into a crazy dog lady.

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Cindy Lester

Cindy has spent the past 15 years showing English Springer Spaniels and Rottweilers in AKC, UKC, and CKC conformation dog shows. She grooms her own English Springer Spaniels and has learned canine behavior through her own experiences and research. She has been breeding ESS for about 10 years.

She learned to show dogs from professional handlers and once had the opportunity to participate in a weekend seminar presented by George Alston. Cindy has been teaching her own classes for 2 years.

In addition to showing, Cindy is currently studying breed standards and has had the pleasure of judging several matches, two English Springer Spaniel sweepstakes and one Brittney sweepstakes.

 

Cindy's full-time pathology laboratory job kept her busy M-F, but evenings and weekends, her time was spent loving and training her own dogs, as well as taking care of “guest dogs” in her home.

Cindy does basic grooming to include bathing, nails and ears. She earned a Brusher Bather Certificate at The New England Grooming Show which is held annually in the fall. She recently was awarded second place at The Whole Pet Grooming Academy’s grooming competition in Portsmouth.  

Join Cindy Lester with your future “show dog”, or with your best friend who you just want to have fun with while learning some basic good behavior skills.