Ashley Castro - Training Manager & Agility Instructor
Ashley has been working with dogs professionally since 2004 . An agility enthusiast, Ashley competes in various venues including AKC, UKI and USDAA. Her dogs also hold titles in rally, CGC, dock diving, tricks and are members of the Level Up tricks and stunts team. She shares her household with Wyatt, a senior mixed breed that started her training journey, and her current competing dogs, a Shetland Sheepdog named Gossip and Border Collies named Solo and Link.
She loves the “aha!” moment a student has when they’ve truly learned something. Dedicated to bringing the best instruction to her classes, she participates in routine continuing education with top agility handlers. In 2014, Ashley founded a successful non-profit organization, Eastern Herding Dog Rescue, where she serves as President. She also performs with various trick dog teams and fosters dogs to give back to the community. Outside of the dog world, Ashley hikes, spends time adventuring with friends, plays video games and hangs out with her family.
Hob Nob Never Tell Me the Odds "Solo" MX MXJ MAD TKP DJ CGC
Redemption's Mouth of the South "Gossip" OA OAJ TKP
Sagehill Triforce Hero "Link" CGC TKP
Merritt Speagle - Day School/Boarding Manager, Agility Instructor
Merritt has been training dogs since she was very young. She has been competing in agility for years and has competed at the national level. Even as a junior handler, she competed at the CPE National level. She has worked with many world-famous trainers and believes it is necessary to have a strong toolbox of knowledge to draw from - since not everything works for every dog.
Regardless of breed or size, Merritt is experienced in building drive and overcoming fears.
Merritt recognizes the critical foundation steps and maximizes training time and energy. Additionally, she believes agility is not something to be forced, but built upon a strong bond, trust and teamwork. Most importantly, she says: “Training dogs should be *fun*! “
MACH Sagehill Force Of Nature "Thunder" MXS MJB XF T2B
ADCH Sagehill Tough To Touch! "Seale" MX MXJ OF
Sagehill A Touch Too Cheeky "Chica" NA OAJ
Morgan Krug - Manners & Agility Instructor
Morgan has been working with dogs for over a decade. Her current dogs, mixed-breed “Delilah” AX MXJ AD SJ CGC and Mini Aussie “Oliver” AX AXJ AD are both competing at the AKC Masters and USDAA Advanced level in agility. Morgan adopted her first dog, Delilah, from a rescue in Richmond. Delilah was feral, and forced Morgan to learn all that she could about dog behavior and training in order to grow their relationship. Now, Delilah is an accomplished agility dog, therapy dog, and assists Morgan when working with behavioral issues in other dogs. Her favorite thing about teaching dogs is watching them “get it” and have a lightbulb moment of understanding. When not teaching, Morgan enjoys tea and tiny houses.
Sarah Crane - Agility Instructor
Sarah started dog training after getting her first dog, Pembroke Welsh Corgi Hector MX MXJ APD RL2 in 2011. Since then, she has fallen in love with dog training and now teaches various classes at Level Up. Hector has earned his master agility titles and has dabbled in rally obedience as well. He is a member of the Level Up trick dog team, and is also a certified therapy dog. Sarah’s current agility dogs, border collies Ajax and up and comer Tera, hold various titles and compete in AKC, UKI and USDAA. She is a founding member of Eastern Herding Dog Rescue and serves as Vice President on the board. Sarah teaches Biology and Chemistry at a local high school, and enjoys learning about science.
Amy Shankle - Manners & CGC/Therapy Dog Instructor
Amy Shankle, CPDT-KA, has loved dogs all her life. She has 10+ years of experience training her own dogs, and has been teaching classes for nearly 5 years. Working through her own dogs’ struggles with reactivity piqued an interest in behavior, while competing with her dogs in Rally Obedience and Agility brought out a love for dog sports and teaching all the fun things that go into them! Her favorite part of teaching is seeing the progress that her students make, and helping them to achieve their training goals - whatever those might be!
When she’s not training or teaching, Amy works full time for VCU and just finished her Master's degree in Adult Learning. She shares her life with two darling pit bull terriers, Juno (Juno B. Beastly) and Percy (Persephone’s On The Ball), and her wonderful boyfriend, Aidan, who doesn’t mind when she talks his ear off about dogs, dogs, and more dogs!
Dr. Elizabeth Kost, DVM - Tricks/Stunt Dog & Agility Instructor
Brittany Blankenship - Tricks/Stunt Dog & Manners Instructor
Brittany has always loved dogs and cats so working in the animal word came naturally. Currently she works as a dog handler for a dog hiking company and spends her days with dogs of all kinds. She has assisted with dog training classes and found that trick training is her favorite. After fostering many Border Collies for Eastern Herding Dog Rescue she decided it was time to have one of her own! She has a Border Collie named Elaine, who is a part of the Level Up trick dog team. Brittany believes that all dogs can benefit from trick training and loves watching pups have fun while learning cute tricks. She also has an adventure cat named Larry who loves learning tricks and going on hikes with Elaine.
TBC Elaine Benes CGC TKP
Courtney Iannello - Rally and Obedience Instructor
Courtney was introduced to the world of dog training in 2008 when she adopted her first dog, Troy. After a few basic manners classes, they both were hooked and quickly advanced into competition level training. Troy went on to earn a rally master championship, herding instinct test, and novice agility titles. He was ranked nationally and WCRL Rally for several years, and is on the WCRL lifetime achievement list. Courtney is currently competing in obedience, rally, and agility with her dogs Jenga and Win. She has achieved an AKC Utility Dog Title with Jenga, and most recently earned a CDX with up-and-comer Win.
Courtney has trained with top competitors in multiple sports and is able to bring a wide range of methods to her classes. She places an emphasis on foundation training to promote a happy working dog and enjoys helping her students to find fun in training.
Dr. Alyssa Fenton, DVM - Agility Instructor
Alyssa is a veterinarian by day, and breeds and shows her Shetland Sheepdogs. Dogs are an essential part of every aspect of her life! Alyssa has been active in agility with her Shelties since 2002 and currently competes in venues including AKC, UKI and USDAA. She enjoys all aspects of dog sports, and also competes in conformation, nosework, obedience and herding. She has competed at multiple national events with her current and past agility dogs and was excited to place in two rounds at the AKC FCI world team tryout this year.
Alyssa believes strongly that one method of training does not fit all, and continues to study to acquire new skills and theory to pass on to her students. She hopes to pass her love of the sport on to everyone who participates in her classes.
“Arya” MACH5 Chivalyn’s Song of Ice and Fire MXC MJC MXF TQX T2B3 CGCA
“Kristoff” Chivalyn Clearsky Mischief Managed AX AXJ XF
“Elphaba” Chivalyn Clearsky Defying Gravity NA NAJ MXP2 MJP2
“Stefan” Ch Chivalyn Songweaver AX MXJ CGC
Fenrir Taura - Photographer and Trainee
Fenrir is LU's resident photographer and trainee instructor. He's a self proclaimed Labradad and has been involved in dogs for most of his life. Fenrir's photography is Taura Paw-tography and he excels at capturing the dog's personalities in his shots.
When he isn't snapping photos or dog training, Fen enjoys cosplaying, gaming and going to cons.