My name is Lilly, and I've been a professional dog trainer since 2017. I'm CPTD-KA certified, and I also have a Canine Coaching diploma from Canine Principles. While I currently specialize in puppies, my background is in behavior modification, specifically for reactivity in adult dogs. I love training dogs of all ages, breeds, and sizes, and have experience in a wide range of behaviors. I'd love to chat with you about the needs of you and your dog!
My husband and I had always wanted a dog, even from our early dating days. When we first got married, we were living in a small, rented apartment in the city of Seattle, and we both worked full time. Not wanting to bring a dog into that lifestyle, we held off for a couple of years. In 2016 we bought our first house (for the large, fenced yard), and within 36 hours of closing on the house we had finally adopted our first dog! We named him Moony, and we were so ecstatic to have him.
...For a couple of weeks.
Quickly we realized we were in over our heads. Moony was stubborn and disobedient. He didn't listen, he had boundless energy, he pulled like a freight train from hell on walks. We were constantly agitated and exhausted, and we didn't know what to do.
That's when I reached out to a previous coworker of mine who had become a dog trainer (Lara Mirkovich, Proper Puppers, Las Vegas). Lara explained what my dog needed from me in our relationship, and gave me a few foundational things to work on. I saw immediate changes! I remember feeling so relieved that there was hope for me and Moony. I had waited for him so long, and it was devastating to not enjoy him the way I expected! When Lara helped me shift my perspective, that's the moment my life's trajectory changed.
Once I got that first taste of understanding my dog's behavior, I became addicted! I read all the materials I could get my hands on and watched all the videos I could find. Suddenly, I had only one ambition in life: to do for someone else what Lara had done for me. I wanted to find all of those people who were thinking, "I love my dog, but I hate my life with my dog," and tell them they aren't alone and empower them to change their situation.
While I studied and worked toward my goal of becoming a professional dog trainer, I was getting some practical experience in by volunteering with the dogs at my local shelter, walking and boarding dogs on Rover, and eventually hosting a doggy daycare out of my home. Seeing a wide range of dogs and having the opportunity to work with a variety of behaviors was so important to my learning!
Once I had received my first certification, I began taking clients for personalized training under the business name Miss Lilly's Dogs. I worked in the Seattle area at a low cost and a beginner level, all the while continuing to build my skills, confidence, and experience.
In May of 2019, my husband and I moved from Seattle to Grand Rapids, Michigan, carting along Moony and his three animal siblings for the three day journey in our Honda Pilot. Around this time, my brother and sister-in-law, who already lived in Grand Rapids, were getting their first family dog from Bunji Australian Labradoodles. (As a funny aside, I had tried to dissuade them from doing this, because at the time I had some very strong and not very well-rounded opinions about doodle breeding! They convinced me to take a better look at the breeder though, and needless to say I fell in love with the program.)
Through my brother and sister-in-law, I met Jen, the owner of Bunji Australian Labradoodles, and as fate would have it, she was looking for a local dog trainer to help with Puppy Head Start. Jen and I clicked instantly, having not only a similar training style but also a similar way of working and communicating. I became the official Bunji trainer and took over the Puppy Head Start program in early 2020, and I am still doing that today!
It was later that year that Lara and I decided to start a podcast as a pandemic hobby. We launched the podcast Dogaritaville together, and put out episodes regularly for a little over a year. Dogaritaville doesn't have any new episodes as of January 2022, but we don't consider this project to be ended, and we both hope to get back to it when we have the time! You can listen to Dogaritaville on most podcast streaming platforms.
In the summer of 2022, I decided it was time for a re-brand. At the beginning of my career, one of my clients called me Miss Lilly and it just sort of stuck! I didn't love the name, though, and changing it has always been in the back of my mind. After brainstorming a little bit and talking it over with Jen, I decided to take on the name Bunji. I love the name because it means "friend," which is how I think about our pet dogs, and it also reflects my training relationship with Bunji Australian Labradoodles.
And that's how Bunji Dog Training became what it is now! The journey is just beginning and I'm so excited to see what the future holds.
Bunji Dog Training Team
Meet my beautiful family! Bunji Dog Training wouldn't be what it is without each of these team members.