Meet Your Merchant: Center offers leadership-based dog training
Chris Vaught is self-professed lifelong animal lover, but she admits she didn’t always like dogs.
Vaught said a dog had bitten her as a child, engendering a fear of man’s best friend. But after she graduated college – trained in equine management -she visited a friend whose dog had a litter of puppies. One of them followed her home and Vaught named her Ebony.
“She changed the entire course of my life,” Vaught said. “Because once I had her I knew what I didn’t want her to be.”
Today, Vaught owns Carson Dog Sports, a 7,000-square-foot training facility for dogs in East Carson City, which provides classes for owners who just want their dog to behave, to those who want their canine to enter competitions.
Vaught, 44, opened the business last month that houses four other independent contractors who teach obedience classes, free-style and agility training and other competitive dog sports, such as teaching dogs to sniff out hidden objects.
Vaught and her husband have lived in Washoe Valley for 10 years where she had been teaching private classes. Both of them are former National Forest Service employees. Her last day on the job was Friday.
“I’ve been wanting to do this for a number of years,” Vaught said. “I had wanted to quit and do dog training full-time.”
Three years ago, her plans to leave her job with the National Forest Service to pursue a career in dog training were stifled when the housing market took a nose dive. Her husband had taken a job in Denver and she had planned to open a training facility there, but the couple decided they could not sell their home.
So she stayed in Washoe Valley while he worked in Denver until retiring last year and returning to Nevada. Now, Vaught said, she is finally able to pursue her passion.
The business is just getting off the ground, and Vaught has high hopes. She said California dog training organizations are interested in using the Carson City facility, and many clients are already bringing in their pooches for training.
“I think the key, if we’re going to be successful, is the diversity of things we offer,” she said.
Vaught said she learns from every dog.
“It’s beautiful when you start to see the dog figure out they can communicate back,” she said. “And so many of the old-school methods of training are dominance based … what I try to get across to everybody here is our training methods have nothing to do with dominance and everything to do with leadership.”
She gets teary eyed.
“I listen with my eyes,” Vaught said. “My passion is to get people to understand that connection, to realize how amazing it is to communicate with another species.”
Ebony died a year ago at the age of 16.
Vaught now wears a pendent around her neck that contains a double-helix filled with a sample Ebony’s genetic material.
“She was a very wise dog,” Vaught said. “She was an amazing dog for learning. She was always kind of an old soul.”