About our Owner and Head Trainer Mary McNeight, CCS, CPDT-KA, BGS:
When Mary McNeight couldn’t find anyone in the Seattle area who would help her train her own dog Jasper for service work, she had to become the resource she needed to convert her pet dog into her service dog. The dog she trained was a wonderful companion and helped her manage her anxiety and major depression, but when he became too old to work, she got a 8 week old labrador retriever puppy named Liame. The puppy became more than she could handle with her current training skills, so she enrolled in puppy classes 6 hours per week and became addicted to dog training.
Flash forward a few years, Mary has been recognized two years in the row by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and is a graduate of the only dog training degree program certified by the State of Washington. She is a professional member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, and after many years, countless hours of dog training work, and a rigorous test by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers in March 2011, Mary officially holds the title of CPDT-KA – the only professionally monitored and standardized dog training certification in the U.S. Still, she is committed to continuing her education and professional development by continuously attending seminars and dog training conferences nationwide.
About The Service Dog Academy:
The Service Dog Academy was established in 2008. Mary McNeight taught classes at a community center in West Seattle and Beacon Hill where she provided low-cost training for both small groups and individuals, and thanks to the success of the program and increased need for her own space, she opened her own dog training studio in West Seattle in October of 2010.
Using only methods approved by the American Humane Association and strict adherence to positive reinforcement dog training techniques, the Service Dog Academy offers private training sessions and small group adult and puppy dog training classes for both service and pet dog training, as well as a groundbreaking train your own Diabetic Alert Dog program!
The Academy is dedicated toward providing low-cost service dog training for people with disabilities. When comparing the cost of a service dog – usually around $20,000 – to taking classes at the Service Dog Academy, the answer is undeniable, The Service Dog Academy is the best resource in Puget Sound for service dog training. The Service Dog Academy’s mission is empowering oneself to live a more independent life by training your own pet dog for service dog work at an affordable rate.
The train your own Diabetes Alert Dog program has already yielded lifesaving results, and McNeight’s fascination with scent work in dogs extends beyond diabetic alert. She also specializes in migraine alert, seizure alert, asthma and is trying to create the worlds first narcolepsy alert dog.
- Featured Presenter at American Diabetes Expo
It was standing room only at Mary McNeight’s stage at the American Diabetes Expo. Mary and her lovely assistant Liame demonstrated to the diabetic community the amazing power of a dog’s nose to alert to changes in blood sugar, and her groundbreaking Diabetic Alert dog training classes in a presentation titled “Turning Fido from Family Pet to Diabetes Detector” at the expo on April 30th sponsored by the American Diabetes Association in the beautiful Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle. Because of her groundbreaking work with diabetic alert dogs at The Service Dog Academy, Mary McNeight CPDT-KA, CCS was invited to present among a variety of acclaimed and talented diabetes experts….. Read More
- We Have Been Nationally Recognized!
The Association for Pet Dog Trainers, a nationally recognized group with over 5,000 members worldwide has awarded The Service Dog Academy in the National Train your Dog Month campaign with The Most Creative Community Event! We certainly made a scene in downtown Seattle’s Westlake Park when, to the tune of “Walking The Dog” by Rufus Thomas, 14 handlers and their positively trained dogs simultaneously demonstrated basic skills taught in most dog training classes. The first ever positively trained flash mob (that we know of) managed to win over the APDT and make the news! …. Read More
- Our Latest Hero (excerpt from June Newsletter)
When we’re training a dog to alert to blood sugar highs or lows, he has to be trained to do so in various different places – the home, at the grocery store, at work, in the car, and so on until he masters the scent and can alert anywhere, anytime, no matter what. That is why we were so amazed to hear Buddy and Eric’s harrowing story of how at only 8 months old, Buddy saved his owner’s life. Buddy, a young Chocolate Lab, recently went with Eric to work – something he’d done only a few times since training. That day, Eric’s blood sugar crashed and he passed out. Behind a closed office door, it might have been a long time before anyone saw him, if Buddy wasn’t there. His coworkers heard an excruciatingly loud howl coming from Eric’s office, and it sent them running in. That is where they found Buddy – a dog that rarely even barks – trying desperately to get someone’s attention. After around 6 sessions with Mary, Buddy had not yet been trained to alert in the workplace, which is why this story is so inspirational! We are also pleased to report that Eric is in great condition, recovered hours after the incident, and surely in better paws with Buddy, the thinking, lifesaving, diabetic alert dog in training!
Student and Client Testimonials
“Daisy has been in the diabetic alert training for 7 weeks now. She is only 7 months old. Last night at 2 in the morning I woke up to an excited pup in my face. She got her two front paws up on the bed and started bumping me on the leg, I didn’t pay much attention to her at that point. After awhile she decided I wasn’t going to wake up and she proceeded to bump me on the side of the face. Sure enough I got up, checked my blood sugar and was down to 62. I thought Daisy did a great job and went to reward her with some treats when I noticed she had opened the fridge by tugging on my belt I attached to the door handle! My juice wasn’t in a small bottle where she could have grabbed it but she tried her best. I’m so impressed with what only 7 classes has done for me and Daisy!
Eric had an insulin reaction at work that caused him to pass out. Buddy… may have saved Eric’s life. When Eric went down Buddy started howling and it alerted his boss who came and found him on the floor.
Lily is alerting me regularly and has begun to do so on the bus, at bus stops and other out door locations… I just don’t collapse in stores or on the street anymore because she catches my lows earlier than I usually do and when I am distracted!
Malla and I have been attending Service Dog Academy in Seattle, WA, for 5 weeks of training. I’m a “brittle” diabetic… Sat, June 18th, Malla saved my life… Between 9 AM and 10 AM, Malla woke me, as she had been taught in our diabetic alert training. As I was attempting to wake up, I realized Malla was alerting me to a low blood sugar. I also realized I was home alone, and I could not walk. With Malla’s help I crawled to the refrigerator and got a regular Coke. As I regained some mobility I was able to run another blood sugar and this time it was 43. If it had not been for Malla’s training, the tenacity of her breed, and her love and devotion to me; I reallly don’t think I would be here today.
Mary was a godsend and exceeded our expectations in every possible way. The way that Mary truly cares for the animals and her abilities in the areas of feeding, training, and knowledge of ADA guidelines is sublime. I can’t imagine a single way that her service could be any more wonderful.
Mary is a delightful and highly skilled professional who quickly achieved results with my dog (and me!). I would recommend her without hesitation to everyone!
Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, CCS, BGS
Service Dog Academy
6040 SW California Ave Suite C
Seattle, WA 98136
Please check out our In The Media webpage to watch and listen to our numerous web, TV and radio interviews.