Meet Our Team Of Experienced Dog Trainers
Sonny Madsen – Owner/Master Dog Trainer
Madsen is a master certified dog trainer and owner-operator of our Sit Means Sit Dog Training of Northern Virginia franchise. She is also the founder/president of K-9 Caring Angels Therapy and Service Dogs. An award-winning manager and public speaker with an emphasis on sales, training and motivation, she has always felt an internal drive to help people improve their lives.
Madsen started her business in 2012, wherein just three short years, she grew from a start-up to a top 10 franchise out of 130 nationally, most recently achieving #3 in the nation for 2017. During that time, she also founded K-9 Caring Angels — a 501c3 dedicated to providing therapy and service dogs to the community, including our veterans and service personnel. In 2017, she placed the first full-time, live-in firehouse therapy dog with Fairfax County.
Ted Madsen – Owner/Master Dog Trainer
Madsen is a master trainer and co-owner/operator of Sit Means Dog Training. He is also vice president of K-9 Caring Angels Therapy and Service Dogs. Ted joined his wife Sonny in starting K-9 Caring Angels Therapy Dogs to give back to the community, and through the Warrior’s Angels Service Dogs service, he strives to help our soldiers and veterans by donating psychiatric service dogs to those with challenges like PTSD.
Before becoming a dog trainer, Ted worked in the corporate world as an executive in the travel and tourism industry with Hilton, Wyndham and Resort Condominiums International (RCI). He was also a managing partner with Quintessential Consulting Group. It was in 2010 that Sonny came to Ted with the idea of starting a dog training business after meeting with the founder of Sit Means Sit, Fred Hassen, in Las Vegas, Nev. She thought Ted would think it was a crazy idea, but his support and her drive made it happen — the same is true for K-9 Caring Angels.
Angela Moxley – Lead Dog Trainer
Moxley is a natural-born dog trainer who came to Northern Virginia by way of Wisconsin in 2015. Angela works as a professional dog trainer for Sit Means Sit dog training. There, she first trained her own dog, a small Shih Tzu named Avicci, for her daughter. After experiencing the pride of her own dog receiving the Canine Good Citizen Certification from the AKC, she joined the Caring Angel’s therapy team. Using her dog to teach dog safety in elementary schools and making appearances in nursing homes and hospitals, Avicci’s love spread happiness to everyone wherever she went — even other dogs can’t resist her charm!
Susan Smircina – Lead Dog Trainer
Smircina has been with Sit Means Sit since 2015. Prior to Sit Means Sit, she was a Kindergarten teacher for Fairfax County and a young riders horseback riding instructor at Twin Oaks Riding Academy. She started out as a client working with her personal dog, Coco Bean, who had severe anxiety. After seeing the success with her own dog and how much happier her life became, she decided to change careers.
Smircina wanted to help other dogs live happier lives with their families and help families overcome their challenges with their dogs that they once thought were impossible. She is now a Lead Trainer, an AKC Canine Good Citizenship Evaluator, and is CPR and first aid trained in cats and dogs. She is also a Certified Pet Tech Trainer.
Joanna Thomas – Lead Dog Trainer
Thomas has had a passion for dogs since childhood, which led to her starting her career working in animal hospitals. There, she gained a lot of knowledge about the health and care of dogs. She has been a long-time handler for Virginia Search and Rescue and she has taken her training and handling skills to the next level with Sit Means Sit of Northern Virginia.
A goal of hers is to get involved with training and producing fully trained Diabetic Alert Dogs.
Samone Puffenbarger – Office Manager
Puffenbarger works double duty as both a dog trainer and as office manager. She teaches several regular group classes, tricks classes and beginner agility classes. Samone is certified with AKC to perform S.T.A.R Puppy, CGC, CGCA and UCGC tests for the public.
“I love it when a client has one of those ‘aha’ moments with their dog and they have success with something that they have been working on for a little while. It feels great! I always tell my clients that baby steps are the way we get to great things, so don’t get upset if things don’t happen as quickly as you think it should. Every dog can succeed, we just need to be there to show them the way.”
Goals for the year:
- Start training dogs a little more outside of group class.
- Learn more about scent work.
- Learn more about training a service dog.
- Advance my knowledge about agility work.
Michele Brown – Dog Trainer
Michele enjoys to work with clients and loves helping people. With Sit Means Sit, she feels that is being fulfilled.
“All of the board and train dogs I have had, I see them gain a great deal of confidence and balance. It is due to the Sit Means Sit dog training system and a trainer who understands dog behavior and knows how to communicate with a dog in a way that they will succeed. That is why I feel I am so well suited for what I do and I am so very thankful to be a trainer for Sit Means Sit. I stay humble but confident in my growth. For once in my life, I actually look forward to the work of the next day and don’t mind working as long as it takes.”
Sabrina Puffenbarger – Dog Trainer
Sabrina has been working with Sit Means Sit for five years. She started with working with Sit Means Sit because she has a passionate love of animals and helping people, so dog training was a perfect job for her. She started as a young apprentice and has grown with the business and experience. Sabrina loves the challenge of working with aggressive or dominate dogs. She teaches several group classes a week and plans to teach scent work and dock diving classes. Her goal is to become a master trainer soon. She also speaks sign language and is working to become completely fluent.
Larry Myers – Dog Trainer
After serving in the United States Navy, Larry was first a Patrol Deputy (SWAT/K9) for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and then a Patrol Deputy (K9) for the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office. Larry received his certification as a law enforcement dog handler in 2011. Larry realized he also enjoyed teaching citizens at K9 demonstrations with their pets at home who had the same potential and skills as his K9 partner, so he started dog training professionally. Larry specializes in dogs with aggression and biting problems, but he enjoys training all dogs and their owners.
- 2013 VPWDA Iron Dog Law Enforcement K-9 Challenge, 2nd place winner.
- 2012 Chesapeake Iron Dog Law Enforcement K-9 Challenge, 3rd place winner.
- 2012 Iron Dog Law Enforcement K-9 Challenge, state of Virginia, 2nd place overall winner.
- 2011 Iron Dog Law Enforcement K-9 Challenge, state of Virginia, 1st place overall winner.
- 2nd place Vehicle Scan Top Decoy, class April 2011.
- Top Team Award/Handler, class April-May 2011.
Olivia Cassandra – Dog Trainer
Olivia has been training for about eight years now. She’s trained obedience, tracking, Shutzhund, conformation, CGC prep and helped with training search and rescue and therapy dogs. Olivia studied under a number of dog trainers, handlers and behaviorist. She’s worked using many different techniques in dog training for both clients and her own working dogs. She’s shown and titled her dogs and worked for a top-quality German Shepherd Breeder, trainer and behaviorist, doing everything from simple kennel duties to breeding, whelping, temperament testing. There, she also trained puppies before they went to their forever families.
Olivia has taught dog obedience classes and has assisted with conformation show seminars. She went to Austria for a week to train with some top dog handlers there.
“I keep a very holistic approach for my dogs. I enjoy reading behavior and training works by Jack Volhard and Patricia McConnell.”
Angie Arce – Dog Trainer
One of our newest dog trainers, but not new to Sit Means Sit, Angie was previously a client for five years with 12 years of vet tech and grooming experience.
“I love working with rescues and helping any way that I can. My Morky, Husky and three cats are my world!”
Cody McClosky – Dog Trainer
Cody is a dog trainer that has been training alongside a Master Trainer with more than 10 years of experience. She is very driven and has already helped train more than 50 different dogs with all kinds of aggression and behavioral problems. She said working with Sit Means Sit will provide her with an opportunity to make a difference in the area and save as many dogs as possible.
A girl she went to high school with inspired her to become a dog trainer — the girl had rescued a puppy from the local shelter and over the course of a year, she watched her puppy grow up and become a sweet loving dog. One day, he bit her after she tried to take a toy from him. In the following weeks, the aggression became worse, so she offered to help her and her dog but she had her mind set. The next day, her friend took the dog to be euthanized. Her dog is what drives me to better other people’s dogs, including my own.
Cindy Rohrs – K-9 Evaluator
“I’m a long-time animal lover originally from Wisconsin. Proud mother of three children (1 Navy), a son-in-law (Army), and two beautiful grandchildren. I’m thankful for the opportunity to team up with such a great group of dog trainers to help families build healthy/happy relationships with their dogs.”
Our newest addition to Sit Means Sit, Miriam is the smiling face and warm voice that greets anyone who comes or calls the office on weekdays of course. She is bi-lingual and is already making a positive impact on logistics and organization.