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Here at Heeling House, we're passionate that dogs can change the world, one kid at a time. Our professionally trained therapy and service dogs do life-changing work, and on more than one occasion we've seen the unique bond between humans and animals achieve what otherwise seemed impossible. 





Executive Director

Kathy Benner, CPDT-KSA (Certified Pet Dog Trainer, Knowledge & Skills Assessed) is the founder, executive director and training director of Heeling House. She has a formal education in animal behavior, and 24 years of hands-on experience working in the industry. She has a BS in Biology from California Polytechnic State University and a Certificate in Exotic Animal Training and Management from Moorpark College.


Kathy spent five years training marine mammals at Sea Life Park in Hawaii, and started her first dog obedience company, Clever Canines, in 1996. She moved to Virginia in 2000, worked as a technician at a busy animal hospital, and then opened The Animals' House, a successful dog daycare and training center, in 2001.


Kathy has designed and implemented behavior modification and training programs for dolphins, sea lions, seals, penguins, primates, hyenas, mountain lions, Bengal tigers, parrots, llamas, horses and dogs. For the last seven years, Kathy has worked full time training therapy dogs, teaching therapy dog training classes, and collaborating with Physical, Occupational and Speech and Language therapists to provide animal assisted therapy to hundreds of children in our community. She is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a part of two Pet Partners registered therapy animal teams, and a registered AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator. 

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Training Program Director

Ashlyn has been with Heeling House since 2018 as a volunteer and part time trainer. In 2021, Ashlyn moved into a full time role where she is responsible for business and program development. She has a B.S. from Salisbury University, with a degree in Biology. After college, Ashlyn worked in the biotechnology field for many years before discovering dog training. She has always loved dogs and animals, but when her own fearful reactive dog joined her family, Ashlyn discovered the importance of socialization and training. Ashlyn continues to educate herself on emerging dog training movements for reactivity and dog behavior.

Currently, Ashlyn’s duties involve oversight of the business plan, development of the service dog programs, and implementing innovations across programs. She teaches private lessons and group classes for CGC prep, Community Canine, Tricks and Games, Rally Obedience, and Agility. Ashlyn is a certified dog trainer through Animal Behavior College and a registered AKC evaluator. She is married to her very understanding partner and currently has one dog– an Italian Greyhound named Bandit who is a titled Advanced Trick Dog.



Office Manager & Senior Trainer

Monica has been with Heeling House since 2014, starting as a volunteer before moving into a full-time position with the organization in 2016. After having an active role at Heeling House for several years, Monica decided to step down and take a part-time position in order to make time for her family. She is now currently responsible for the general management of the office as well as primary communication, in addition to Service Dog training and some group classes. She has a B.S. from the University of Mary Washington, with a degree in Chemistry. Monica has always had a passion for animals and loves interacting with children, and has spent many hours volunteering with both animal rescues and children’s programs throughout the area.

Monica is both a Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed through CCPDT and a registered AKC evaluator. She has two dogs – a Yorkshire Terrier mix named Pretzel and a rescued Maltese mix named Pika, who is a  registered therapy dog with Pet Partners. 

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