I’ve been a passionate animal advocate for as long as I can remember. I spent much of my younger years being as involved with animals as I could; running “my” pet sitting business, volunteering at a big cat rescue, and (much to my parent’s occasional dismay) taking in animals in need. I currently share my home with my amazing husband and our eight furry family members - four dogs, two cats, and two rabbits (you’ll hear more about them later!).
This love kept me directed towards a purpose - to make the world a better place for animals. Along this journey I earned my Bachelor’s of Science in Integrative Animal Biology, graduating Magna Cum Laude and having participated in research on animal behavior, animal physiology, and human/animal relations. Though my formal education ended with graduation (for now!) I continued to grow my knowledge and skills through independent study including seminars, courses, and research.
My career in the animal welfare and behavior field spans an exciting decade, during which I have been blessed to be able to enjoy applying the principles of behavior science to over thirty unique species. I have worked for and mentored under some remarkable and well-respected trainers while caring for and training animals like aardvarks, parrots, dogs, lemurs, rabbits, reptiles, cats, ravens, and cheetahs.
Though working with such a broad range of exotic species was an undeniable gift and something I will always be thankful for, it was during my work in animal rescues and shelters that I found my truest purpose and passion. I began as a trainer at a private rescue where we focused on dogs that presented with “behavioral issues” that were preventing them from being re-homed. A few years later, I spent time working at a private training facility where I was introduced to the joy of educating pet owners and seeing them grow with their pets. In my most recent position as the Behavior and Training Coordinator at a Humane Society I was able to spearhead a welfare and training program designed to eliminate stress and create positive behavioral change for at-risk animals. Thanks to these amazing experiences, I have worked hands-on with hundreds of dogs - from puppies learning to navigate the world to fearful and aggressive adults.
It was the combination of these experiences - partnering with owners, developing a “toolbox” full of creative and unique approaches through my work with various species, understanding the underlying issues impacting animal rescue work, studying animal behavior, and working extensively with “behavior cases” including aggression, fear, and hyper-arousal dogs - that culminated in what you see today - The Good Steward Training Company. A company whose primary goal is to improve the welfare of animals and their guardians through compassionate, knowledgeable, experienced guidance.
I’m so thankful to be here, and I can’t wait to help you and your animal companions enjoy the remarkable relationship and exciting lives you share.
Wet noses and warm hearts
The furry members of the Johnson family.
My furry, four-footed soul mate. Juneau brought joy and love to our lives for almost ten years. She was the greatest of teachers - both challenging me with her determination and intelligence, and patiently guiding me with her communication. Juneau was a great love, and she lives on through the love and joy we see in each family we work with.
Our little "Tonker-bell" came to us from a local rescue group when she was six months old. Once a socially timid pup who would submissively urinate and shy away from petting, she is now a force to be reckoned with! Positive-reinforcement based training helped Tonks develop confidence and enabled us to share joyful, play-filled experiences that truly took our relationship to a new level. She's a sweet-heart with the springs of a kangaroo who gifts us with her rambunctious play and gentle nature.
Cletus was a long-term resident at the first rescue I worked at. As odd as it sounds to say, from the very beginning I knew he was "my dog". He was a fearful stray who had been at the shelter for several years due to his lack of trust in people and his general fearfulness - he would flee from shadows, cars, humans, and any other sudden noise or visual stimulation. It absolutely broke my heart to have to say goodbye to him when I left the job, but at the time we thought we couldn't manage a third dog. Six months of tears later, and we realized we were going to have to figure it out because we couldn't live without him. Cletus' fears inspired me to dive deeper into animal behavior and emotions and led me to learning from some brilliant trainers and behaviorists. He has gone from being terrified of everything from mailboxes to the TV to being a sometimes wildly excited, resilient, and happy dog.
Cody too came from the rescue I worked at, but he didn't join our family until several years after I worked with him. During that time, he had been adopted and had presented with human-reactive behaviors in his new home. Unfortunately, these behaviors were punished with fear and pain inducing methods and his underlying emotions were often ignored. The behaviors worsened, and he was returned to the rescue. Thankfully, word reached me through the grapevine and we were able to bring Cody into our home. When he arrived, he was an anxious dog, fearful whenever he didn't know what was expected of him. Through love and a welfare-focused approach to animal ownership Cody has begun to feel safe, relaxed, and joyful. His personality continues to blossom. His journey through rehabilitation and training has just begun - and we're so happy to be able to share it with him.
Not-so-little wild child Atka is full of goofy antics and curiosity. He has a genetic predisposition towards fear, which was already apparent at only ten weeks when he would flee in panic from strangers even if they were several blocks away. Thanks to a comprehensive and welfare-focused approach, we continue to gradually expand his world through safe, fun experiences that build his confidence.
Emmy is pure spunk wrapped in a cloud of fur. This little lady is a beautiful representation of her breed - active, intelligent, and inquisitive. Her time is divided between playing all out with her siblings and napping as close to on top of us as possible. She has a stable and friendly personality, and is a blossoming helper dog who will hopefully aid in the training of in-need dogs for years to come.
This handsome prince is easily one of the most confident and easy-going animals I've ever met! We adopted Takota from a local rescue when he was about three months old, and he has been an amazing companion ever since. His immense love of snacks enabled us to have an easy introduction to enriching and training domestic cats, and has served as a great way for us to keep him entertained and satisfied.
Our little monster! Kaiju was adopted from the same rescue Takota came from, but years apart. His personality is often opposite of his brother - he is a quirky and rambunctious cat who loves to stalk, chase, pounce, and paw. His playful nature made it imperative that we learned more about feline behavior; neither us or his siblings enjoyed being scratched, kicked, or bitten! Thanks to our little wild kitten, I learned about play therapy, environmental management for felines, cooperative care for nail trims, and kitty enrichment. Now we can enjoy both play and cuddles with this fluffy boy.
Here comes adorable trouble! Farley was adopted him from a lovely family who could no longer care for him. He brought a new level of spunk to the household. Since his arrival he's bonded with our other bun, and the two enjoy sharing leafy greens and long naps.
Nigel was adopted from a local animal shelter when our area was seeing a boom in rabbits needing homes. He was very fearful, running and hiding when we would enter the room. Through gradual positive encounters and the encouraging example set by his bunny bro, Nigel has begun to settle into the safety and comfort of his home.