Meet our Trainers
Laurie Burnam came to the dog world with an already extensive background in training and competing with horses. She began helping train horses and competing in horse shows at age 14, receiving numerous trophies, ribbons and twice winning the prestigious high point year-end silver belt buckle. When she got older, she continued to train horses and give riding lessons as a business.
Laurie was an active foster person for an Australian Shepherd rescue group for many years and she began training in the sport of competitive obedience in 1996 with her rescued Australian Shepherd, Teddy, an abused dog that she rehabilitated and with which she competed successfully, earning his AKC and ASCA CDX. Later she acquired three more Aussies, which she competed in agility, herding, obedience, rally and tricks, earning numerous advanced titles from RAE to UD to MACH, ATCH, RTCH and many High in Trials, High Combined Scores. Casey earned 10 titles in herding, Scout earned 70 titles in agility, obedience and rally, Scusi has so far earned 73 titles in agility, herding, obedience, rally and tricks with two championships and is still actively competing, plus she now has a new puppy, Tesla, who will be trained in all of these sports as well. Tesla looks like she will follow in her two big sisters footsteps doing multiple sports.
Laurie began her training career in 2005, when asked to take over VHOC's Beginning Obedience and Manners class. She continues to teach this fun and informative class to members of the club and the community at large, using positive training methods and her naturally calm demeanor. Laurie has great respect for all animals and feels she has a special relationship with them. She believes her calmness comforts them and they tend to gravitate toward her presence. Laurie also teaches VHOC's Rally Obedience class; she considers it a great segue from the beginning pet class, one that allows handlers to further bond with their dogs and possibly go on to competing. From there, students are encouraged to take the Beginning Competitive Obedience class taught by Patti Rovtar and then they may want to continue onto Laurie’s Advanced Competition Obedience Class, where they will learn all the advanced exercises required for competing in the Novice, Open and Utility classes.
Laurie has held several positions on the VHOC Board and served as our Obedience Trial Chairperson from 1999 to 2012. She was also the Obedience Trial Chairperson for the Australian Shepherd Club of Southern California (ASCSC). Laurie served as VHOC's representative for the Southern California Dog Obedience Council (SCDOC) for ten years, and is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT). She has her own dog training and equipment business called Poochability Dog Training and can be found at www.poochabilitydogtraining.com.
Olga Chaiko is a world-class agility competitor, a highly skilled dog trainer and a wonderful instructor. She never fails to communicate her message to each student, making people feel comfortable and relaxed. Olga is famous for her sense of humor, her instruction is electrifying and lighthearted. Olga presents unique techniques and solutions that are devised and tailored to each individual dog/handler team.
Olga has been involved in agility for sixteen years. Olga is 2006 IFCS World Champion with her Border Collie, MACH6 ADCH Luz, LAA-Platinum. Olga’s Border Collie, NAC MACh Yankee, won BCC European Championship in 2008 and AKC National Agility Championship in 2009. Olga lives in Los Angeles, California, and offers private lessons, seminars, and online instruction.
Michelle Doram, CNWI
AKC Scent Work Judge
USCSS CSD/ Judge
Michelle Doram has been working with dogs professionally since 2001, but dogs have been the main focus of her life since her first German Shepherd Dog at age 13. As part of a Puppy Raiser family for The Guide Dogs of America, she has been immersed in dog activities most of her life. She began Nose Work classes with her spaniel mix puppy in 2010 and has continued playing the game with four other dogs since. Each dog has brought her new learning and appreciation for the sport. Michelle particularly enjoys helping develop the unique bond between dog and handler that Nose Work and Scent Work create, and helping the handlers learn more about their dog’s working style. Michelle has been a Certified Nose Work Instructor since 2013. Her favorite focus for training is foundation skill reinforcement for dogs of all levels, as well as trial preparation. Michelle became a Chief Search Designer for USCSS in 2016, and an AKC Scent Work Judge in 2017.
Michelle’s own dogs have achieved various title levels: Nate ELT2, a tricolor Collie mix, earned his NW3 Elite in 2015 with High In Trial on his final NW3; Cedar NW3x2, a sable Rough Collie, was among the first three purebred Collies to earn a NW3 title in 2016, with a Pronounced designation and Second Place overall; Clover, a tricolor headed white Rough Collie, earned her NW2 title in 2016 with a Pronounced designation and second place overall; Kacie, a Brittany Spaniel mix, earned her NW1 title with Second Place overall in 2012. Burdock, a sable Collie, joined the family in the summer of 2018 as a puppy and loves to play the game!
Anne Graumann got started in agility with a mixed-breed dog and she competed with her in USDAA up to Masters level, the only organization that allowed All-Americans to compete at that time. Her second dog was an Aussie that achieved ATCH2, MACH, PDCH-Silver, LAA-Bronze. He made USDAA Top 10 Jumpers and Snooker in 2008, and Top 10 All-Around (Jumpers, Standard, Snooker, and Gamblers) in 2009. He was a USDAA Nationals 2008 P22” European Style Standard winner, P22” Performance Speed Jumping and P22” Performance Grand Prix Finalist. He has multiple Southwest Regionals Finals appearances and placements in PSJ and PGP between 2008 and 2010. He also qualified for USDAA Nationals in 2007, 2009, 2010. He qualified for AKC Nationals in 2010, and ASCA Nationals Veterans Finals in 2012 and 2013. Anne currently competes with her two Aussies. One is trialing at Masters level in AKC, and Elite level in ASCA. The younger of the two is just getting ready to trial.
Anne’s primary goal as a trainer is to help students learn how to set the most efficient lines for their dogs and to have sound technical skills. She believes that the best teamwork is developed through positive motivation. Anne has worked with a broad variety of dog breeds from companion and northern dogs to herding and hunting dogs, as well as various mixed breeds, and dogs in all jump heights.
Anne is well versed in teaching everything from foundation to international-style handling to distance skills, and anything in between.
*Photo courtesy of Pam Marks.
I first started doing freestyle over ten years ago with my Australian Shepherd Cinna who had to retire from agility at the early age of five due to hip issues. Freestyle allowed me to continue working with her at something that was both stimulating and fun.
My Aussies and I have competed and qualified in seven national events. I’m certified as both a freestyle instructor and judge through Dogs Can Dance (DCD).
DCD (http://www.dogscandance.com) is a freestyle organization that downplays costuming and tricks. Instead its training and competition emphasize showcasing a dog’s natural movements and good canine/handler teamwork. It is one of the best resources for learning about freestyle and offers affordable online, interactive classes for all levels. It also has The Challenge – a competition with different divisions, levels and titles. Competing can be done either online or at live titling events.