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!

Image by John Rodenn Castillo

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, 2 year old daughter Nora 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 five year old daughter, Natalie - and a new little human due 3/20/21! I enjoy all dog sports, and actively participate in GRC and a few different bite sports with my shepherd. 

Image by Cole Patrick

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!


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.

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.


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 new 4 month old 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.