My Life with Dogs: A Glimpse Into Sandra Griffith's Life Outisde of Camp

Our staffers are quite a unique crowd and we are constantly amazed at all of the extracurriculars they partake in off-season. One of the biggest common denominators for almost all of us at Common Ground is that we sure do love our dogs! Sandra Griffith - a veteran Camp Common Ground and Lost Arts staffer - has taken this love to the nth degree over the years as a dog trainer. At Common Ground, Sandra shares her creative crafting skills with kids and adults alike. We wanted to share a little more about what Sandra does when she's not in Vermont. Here’s what she has to say:

“I guess that the love of dogs runs in my family. My father proposed to my mother after knowing her for only ten days. His proposal was contingent on two things. She must learn to change a flat tire (something my father felt everyone should know how to do), and most importantly she must have his dog’s approval. That dog’s portrait, executed in pastels, still proudly graces the walls of my parent’s home after over fifty years of marriage. I guess he knew how to pick the best match for my father.

There was really never a time in my life growing up when there was not a dog present. Our dogs travelled with us from country to country and were always considered important members of the family. In my 20s I was working for a horse veterinarian (another of my loves) and simultaneously our interests changed to small animals. One day, the veterinarian handed me a pair of clippers and my role as a dog groomer began as well. I soon realized that I needed a little help in the mechanics of the whole grooming world and enrolled in a dog grooming school at night to perfect the art so that the poor dogs that I groomed would appear more like respectable canines than Frankendogs. While at the grooming school I became involved more and more in the dog-training world and eventually was training dogs for the police, drug detection, and just regular everyday household pets. This life lasted a decade culminating with a new business that kept me extremely busy and fulfilled until I had children. My focus then shifted once again and I became a full time mom and homeschooling parent.

The day has finally come when my three children were either off to college or independent enough to allow me to refocus my energy on the dogs that I have always loved so much. In the intervening years there had been a huge growth in the research being conducted at universities around the world regarding how dogs (and other animals) learn. I started reading many of the research studies being conducted in this area. I eventually decided to go back to school to become up to date on the most recent developments in the world of dog training that had been put into place in light of all of the new data gleaned from this new research. I loved the marriage of science and practicality that has grown out of this work. 

After completing my course work I established my new business The Educated Hound, which leads me to where I am today. I mainly work with clients to help them with their dog’s behavioral issues. I also help people get a good first start with their new dogs in addition to just helping them to teach their dogs such specific things as tricks, service dog tasks, agility, obedience, nose work, and treibball (a sort of doggy version of soccer). I love my work and find it so rewarding to help a person and their dog come to an understanding of each other. I guess I see my role as an interpreter; helping a person and their dog learn to communicate with each other using a common language that they can both understand.” 

Sandra and Zephyr are hoping to spend four weeks with us at Camp Common Ground next summer, so maybe she’ll share some of her tips with us. If you love dogs as much as Sandra please send a picture of it (with or without you) to carole [at] cgcvt [dot] org and we’ll post them!

Interested what other staffers and community members do outside of Camp? Check out these past posts:

Staff Spotlight: Martha Siegel

Jake Mendell on a CA Farm

Sugar, Sugar: Peg Makes Mape Syrup

Jackie Mangione's Open Studio