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Meet the Puppy Development Team

Our puppy development team brings years of knowledge and skills to the vital process of raising and training our Future Leader Dogs and supporting the hundreds of dedicated puppy raisers and on-campus volunteers who help to make our mission possible. Each member of the team has a wealth of experience in dog training 

Laura sits on an indoor bench in a hallway smiling at the camera and holding the lash of the young yellow lab in Future Leader Dog bandanna. The lab is sitting in front of Laura's legsLaura has been with Leader Dog since 2013. Her position includes a lot of contact with puppy raisers, including matching puppies with appropriate raisers, teaching training classes and supporting Prison Puppies. Laura has a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Michigan State University and over nine years of dog training experience. Her first contact with Leader Dog was in 2008 when she donated a dog that successfully completed guide dog training. The experience was highly memorable and eventually lead her to seek a full-time career at Leader Dog. She loves coming to work every day and enjoys the wide spectrum of experiences available from witnessing a C-section to meeting the clients. Laura’s family has raised seven puppies for Leader Dog. In her free time, she likes baking cakes, watching her kids sporting events and playing with her poodles, Mike and Jasper.

Allison, a woman with long, wavy brown hair, smiles at the camera. She's wearing a gray sweater and black pants. Allison graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in biology. While in Athens she volunteered with the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind as a puppy raiser and leadership team member. She raised 3 puppies with GDF. Venus was career changed, Bill is a working guide dog in New York, and Shannon is now a working guide! After graduation Allison worked as the foster-volunteer coordinator for an animal shelter in Georgia. She loved working with so many dedicated volunteers and so many different animals at the shelter. She also fostered a few animals while working at the shelter and adopted one kitten after bottle feeding him for the summer. Allison is excited to be working with volunteer puppy raisers as a puppy development coordinator and supporting them while they raise future Leader Dogs!

Photo of Vijay Joshi holding a German shepherd puppy that is wearing a blue Future Leader Dog bandannaBefore volunteering at Leader Dog, Vijay worked as a labor and delivery nurse. In 2014, she joined Leader Dog as a volunteer puppy raiser and is currently raising her fifth puppy. She has been a volunteer puppy counselor for Leader Dog in a correctional facility in MI, translated for Spanish-speaking clients and assisted with Leader Dog training weekends. Leader Dog is an organization with values and a mission that pulled at Vijay's heart. She believes that the volunteers have heart and compassion that this organization nurtures and appreciates. Her position as coordinator of Prison Puppies and Campus Puppies allows for her creativity, joy and passion to be a part of an organization that she deeply respects. She has a bachelor's degree in biology and an associate degree in nursing. She is also a Certified Training Partner with Karen Pryor Academy and TAGTeach Level 1 certified. Vijay enjoys working with Leader Dog's puppy raisers whether they are raising in a correctional facility, on a college campus or in an outside family environment. Helping them and sharing their experiences is both rewarding and humbling. Outside of work, she loves to travel, zipline, garden, roller coaster and hike. 

Barrie Lynn’s years of experience in dog training has taught her that trust and confidence are the building blocks of a great dog and its people relationship. She has had great success and fun through trick training. She always says, “Everything we ask a dog to do is basically a trick.” Barrie Lynn earned her Bachelor of Applied Science degree with a minor in field biology from the University of Michigan. She also has an associate degree in science and applied science. Barrie Lynn loves spending time gardening, birding, tending to her horses and of course everything with her dogs, Moose and Bam Bam, 5 and 50 pounds respectively. Other interests are camping, hiking and skiing.

She is certified in the following areas:

AKC: CGC, TD, and ATT Evaluator, FIT Instructor, FDC Judge

DMWYD: CTD Instructor, CCF Coach, SD Judge

UKC: SPOT Evaluator

Selfie of Lauren Wetzel in a pink shirt wearing glasses.Lauren graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in zoology and has worked with Leader Dogs since 2021, starting as a puppy care attendant. She then worked in the veterinary clinic here at Leader Dogs, where she helped in an administrative and technical aspect. Lauren has over 10 years of animal handling experience and is a certified Fear Free advocate. Lauren is excited to help and connect with our puppy raiser volunteers and watch the puppies as they go through Leader Dog training from start to finish. Lauren's hobbies include spending time with her husband and new baby, as well as her two puppies Knox ⁠(a CC'd LD) and Duke (a rescue). She enjoys gardening, knitting, crocheting, and being around (and in!) water in her free time.