Dustin Schmidt- DOG TRAINER/ OWNER
I started working with dogs professionally in 2004 when I moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, from California, to learn to drive dog sled teams for a tour operation. What I thought would be a short hiatus from "what I was supposed to be doing" turned into a passion as I became compelled with the way that the dogs interacted with the world. I began reading books on dog training and studying dog behavior in my free time. After three years in Wyoming guiding dogsled trips, and one year racing teams competitively, I wanted to take it a step further- I moved to Alaska for a job guiding dogsled trips on the Juneau Icefield. Working for Alaska Icefield Expeditions, I lived in a remote camp only accessible by helicopter, twelve miles up the Mendenhall Glacier with about 300 sled dogs and twenty people. Most of our clients were cruise ship passengers hoping to get a taste of the real Alaska. I spent six years working for Alaska Icefield Expeditions. During my last few years in Alaska I began to wonder if the extensive experience I'd gained training working dogs was something that I could use to help people in the city with their pet dogs. I moved to Seattle in 2013, a city that I'd always loved, to test that theory. Three years in, it's going better than I could have ever hoped! The dogs and people that I work with are like family to me and I don't know what I'd do without them.
My dog training philosophy stems from living with a huge pack of working dogs and learning from them. While I believe that there are many great human dog trainers out there, the best dog trainers are dogs themselves. I've learned that, while sled dogs and pet dogs can be very different, their basic and most important needs are the same. One of those needs is to have a job. I believe that the most fulfilling thing for any dog is to have a routine job and a long daily walk or trip to the dog park is the best that way we can replicate that for our city dwelling dogs. With "Less Talk, More Walk" I aim to be your partner in creating this essential experience for your dog.
NICOLE ESPE- ASSISTANT TRAINER/PACK LEADER
My name is Nicole Espe and I was born in California but raised in Edmonds and Seattle. I've loved dogs for as long as I can remember, which according to my mom, was when I was 4 years old and started walking our neighbor’s golden retriever, Casey. She was the first dog I ever fell in love with and my passion for dogs has only grown since. Loving dogs has been one of the constants in my life unlike Care Bears, an obsession with Legolas or Taco Bell in my teenage years. After years of begging my parents for a dog, I finally got one when I was twelve years old. I named him Tobey Moe and he was an 8 pound Rat Terrier who slept more than anything and loved playing with a 12 pound bowling ball and rocks. I had him for many great years and he was an important part of my life. After graduating from high school, I needed a summer job and nothing sounded better than getting to hang out with other people’s dogs. I started my own pet sitting business and it was a great success. I learned a lot about the industry and how to interact with clients, human and furry. Below is one of my experiences with a feistier client:
"My secret weapon was cowboy boots. I tiptoed to the house quietly with my boots on, put the key in the lock and twisted until it clicked. Pushing the door open, I walked in a couple steps. That’s when my ingenious idea paid off. The fifteen-pound Pekingese dog, named Bob, started biting my heels. I was safe, as I had my cowboy boots on. I learned my lesson the day before which is why I was wearing protective gear. Before you get foul thoughts about Bob, you must know he was only protecting his sister, Georgia who is blind. Bob and Georgia were my first clients within the pet sitting industry. To learn that my first client had a dog that was protective and tended to bite heels was a little menacing at first, but I have always loved animals and am not pushed away easily. "
While pet sitting, I attended Edmonds Community College and received an Associate’s degree before transferring to Western Washington University and obtaining my Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies. Throughout my time in Bellingham, I had the opportunity to work for a small family run boarding kennel, Rover Stay Over, which allowed me to gain more experience with dogs and the boarding industry while also watching as the company grew from a small family run business to an award winning business with multiple employees and hundreds of clients.
Besides being "dog-crazy", I love camping, hiking, attending music festivals and photographing nature. Travel is also very important to me and only makes me appreciate the Pacific Northwest even more!
I am very excited to be joining Less Talk, More Walk and look forward to working with Dustin and his clients. Working with dogs in various industries has taught me many things but my main goal is the well being of these animals and I want nothing more than to help them achieve happiness, health and purpose.
Thank you for welcoming me to the team!