Melissa has been teaching other people to train their dogs since 2008 and considers education a "forever" responsibility. She is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) and has received training at both national and local levels.
She has taught in group and private venues and volunteered extensive hours at the county shelter. Her experiences have given her a keen appreciation for the need for and value of public education as well as the benefit of using reward based training methods that build trusting relationships while safely and effectively teaching dogs how to share our homes and community.
Melissa is a Professional Level member of The Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), a Provisional member of the Pet Professional Guild and an AKC Canine Good Citizen and S.T.A.R. Puppy Evaluator. Her dog Cotton is retired from therapy dog work- being a therapy team was one of the most rewarding experiences of her career.
She resides in Rural Hall, North Carolina with her husband and 6 dogs (all former stray/rescue dogs).
Training dogs is not a second job or a hobby for me. It is my full-time profession, my life and my love. More than 90% of my customers are referred to me by professionals in the veterinary/pet care field, local rescue organizations or come to me by word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied customers. With 15 years of experience, when you hire Elite Canine, you can rest assured that you are working with a competent, experienced professional. More than just dog training, together with my clients, we are paving the way toward a better life for all dogs and their families.
Nanook is a 6 year old Samoyed. He left a career as a snazzy show dog in 2014 to become a full-time demo dog with his mom where he shows his fellow canine pals how to be good dogs. His passion is therapy work. As the Captain of the Fostering Friendship Therapy Dog Team, Nanook does multiple visits a week to places like UNC School of the Arts, WFU, Forsyth County Sheriff's Office, & SECU Family House of Winston-Salem. He has starred in a local production of Annie (yes as Sandy, hehe) and became an international sensation when a Brazilian magazine did a story on his therapy work. He's known around town as "The dog with the rainbow tail."
Foster is an 13 year old Australian Shepherd. He has been working as a demo dog since he was 8 weeks old. His resume is impressive. He worked for a big box store for many years and was a co-writer on an entire training program with his mom. Well, someone had to write up the canine side of it!
He was certified as an AKC Canine Good Citizen when he was 18 months old and is the co-founder of Fostering Friendship therapy dog team. He can be seen in the Flow Subaru commercial and the morning promo WXII commercial.
Geralyn has been working with dogs since 2002. She began in a daycare/kennel environment where she gained valuable firsthand knowledge about canine behavior. In 2004, after two years at the daycare/kennel Geralyn began her training career and has never looked back! She began training at a large corporate pet store chain where she learned everything from Ethology, the scientific study of animal behavior, to Learning Theory, understanding how dogs learn. The core of Geralyn’s belief is that to be a great dog trainer, you must know everything about them from their origins, background, and recent changes in breeds and how their minds work. After three years in the corporate world, Geralyn left the pet store chain to pursue a career with a private kennel. Here, she developed the entire training program for this kennel from the ground up where she trained Obedience, Agility and Flyball! In 2008 Geralyn relocated to Winston-Salem and spent four more years working for a corporate pet store chain as Store Trainer and Area Trainer where she not only held many classes in store, she trained numerous other trainers who have gone on to have successful training careers. During this assignment she trained dogs in Obedience and Rally.
In December of 2012, Geralyn decided she would like to be able to reach more animals and work more closely with their human handlers and rescue groups and decided to open her own training center, Elite Canine!
Geralyn has quite a list of certifications and memberships starting with Pet CPR and First Aid, which is very important when you operate your own training facility. She is a Certified Program Evaluator for the Canine Good Citizen, Community Canine, Advanced Canine Good Citizen, Urban Canine Good Citizen and S.T.A.R. Puppy Programs. Geralyn is also a member of the Pet Professional Guild and a certified Therapy Dog Evaluator.
Since opening her own training center, Geralyn has worked tirelessly to connect with rescue groups to offer her services to their foster’s and adoptees. Currently, Elite Canine partners with 9 rescue organizations . For each of these organizations, Geralyn offers free services to dogs that are in foster homes and a discount for a Puppy or Beginner Class for all adopters! In the spring of 2013, Elite Canine sponsored the “Paws for Unity” event which raised money for the Stokes County Animal Shelter to help fund their new facility. In the fall of 2013, Elite Canine co-hosted Winston Salem’s 1st Responsible Dog Owner Day and Canine Challenge where dogs participated in sporting events to raise money for local charities. Geralyn also worked on Unchained Forsyth building team which builds fences for dogs who are permanently chained at their homes. In February 2014, Elite Canine co-funded a fence for Beba a pit bull who was chained to a tree in her back yard. Beba had just given birth to puppies but now runs free in her very own fence! Also in February of 2014, Elite Canine teamed up again to raise money to fund additional bullet proof vests for the Forsyth Sheriff’s Department, called Kevlar for K9s. This fundraiser was a direct result of the loss of Davie County’s K9, Gorky, who was killed in the line of duty. This fundraiser provided enough money to purchase three additional bullet proof, Kevlar vests for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Department. In September of 2014 Elite Canine hosted Winston-Salem’s 2nd Annual Canine Challenge where over 700 people attended and fun was had by all. Geralyn joined Unchain Winston in 2014 and was the Top Dog Sponsor for Fuzzy’s fence on February 15, 2015. EC sponsored a 3rd fence for Sheba in May 2016. In 2017, Geralyn joined the fight against ALS for their May Fundraiser with the EC Team Dave's Dawgs in honor of Dave Andrew who was a student of hers who passed away in 2015. She has also joined in the fight against childhood cancers by becoming a shavee for her team CBug's Dawgs for the St. Baldrick's fundraiser in September. In September of 2016 EC raised $350 for the SECU Family House of W-S for their Milk Money Challenge. In just over 5 years, these fundraisers, plus many food and toy drives, have raised over $15,000, 100+ dog toys and 85+ bags of food, 3 Kevlar vests plus other K9 supplies and 5 new fences.
New for 2017 was Operation Shoebox of Love. The way it worked was simple. Fill up an empty shoebox with supplies for a dog, cat or a bunny. Wrap it and label it so EC knows what animal it is for and then drop it off at one of our drop off locations. Then in July EC had a Christmas in July event, complete with a visit from Santa, to distribute the boxes to the local rescue organizations. In total, with help from the Girl Scouts and many students EC collected 72 boxes! June of 2018 we had an awesome fundraiser called DOGA! Yoga with puppies!! The fundraiser was to benefit Stepping Stones Canine Rescue and a great time was had by all!!!
Work with Children:
Not only are children allowed, even encouraged to attend classes with their four legged brothers and sisters, Geralyn has now started hosting the “Stop the 77” program. This program is a free and offered to children to help teach dog bite prevention, how to safely interact with dogs as well as how to read the body language of dogs to help prevent bites!
FURst Aid & CPR Workshop:
EC offers a workshop for Dog CPR & First Aid. Please contact us for more information on how to learn some life-saving techniques for your canine pal.
Geralyn's greatest accomplishment to date is Elite Canine's Comfort Dogs. She wanted a group that would work together like a family and visit different places as a group. The EC Team has visited many places including SECU Family House of Winston-Salem, Trinity Elms, Brighton Gardens, UNC School of the Arts, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, plus many, many more. Individuals visits are encouraged as well and some of our teams visit the KBR Hospice House and the Ronald McDonald House of Winston-Salem. We also have teams that visit the elementary schools for their Reading Buddies Program, the Stop the 77 Program and career days.
In November of 2015 the EC Team received the Morykwas Humane Citizen Award. The team also has a Canine Cuddle Station which we have at many of the cause events in the area. ALS: Walk for the Cure, Pink Heals, BUddy Walk for PDSSN, Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk, and Make a Wish Picnic in the Plaza.
Due to her training of “Mike the Greyhound” Geralyn was has been included in many TV and print publications. Most notably, Geralyn was featured in “Cesar’s Way” a magazine from Cesar Milan as well as a national TV show named “The Real Winning Edge” where she appeared with Mike’s owner Becca Hart. This work also landed Geralyn in a TV report with Fox 8’s Bob Buckley, and articles in Forsyth Woman, Forsyth Family and Highlights Magazine! Her therapy group has had stories in Triad Happy Tails and Forsyth Family.