“Want to come out of your cage?” Joanna Moritz has a way with birds. “Kiss, kiss… thank you!” She says as her cockatiel, Jimmy, gently pecks her chin. Joanna rescued Jimmy about five years ago, but he does not rule the roost. Benny and Flora are Amazon Parrots who also share Joanna's attention. Benny likes life in the spotlight and is not afraid to get your attention. Flora, however, is perfectly content just sitting on Joanna's shoulder. Both look over Henry. Henry is another rescue; he is a Dutch Rabbit who is obsessed with crackers, which Joanna acknowledges are not good for him. But how do you resist his sweet black and white face? All these animals are patrolled by Felix the cattle dog. It is a full house for Joanna, but she wouldn't have it any other way. Joanna has always been fond of animals. Apparently the feeling is mutual. “They've always gravitated towards me. Huh, Princess?" she asks Flora, who prefers to go by that “pet” name.
Joanna's life-long love of animals influenced her decision to study psychology at the University of Nevada. She says understanding human behavior is easily transferable to animals. She believes the key to a well-trained pet is understanding why they behave the way they do, as opposed to harsh training methods - which her clients would rather avoid.
"They want an animal trained, but they really care how the animal is treated." Joanna is a proponent of rewarding good behavior. For her Amazon Parrots - that means getting a bath. She literally puts them in her shower and gentle sprays water above them; creating a makeshift “rainforest”, if you will. Nothing makes them happier.
This cause and effect behavioral training has earned Joanna the trust of all types of pet owners. “Right now I have a mini-pig. I just set up a consult with a couple of cats - having litter box issues." Dogs, however, make up 90% of her business.” Joanna is now also training trainers. We caught up with her at The Dog Park! Dog Daycare, where she is teaching the four-month long Dog Internship Training Academy. The curriculum comes from a prestigious program that was once based at the San Francisco SPCA. Joanna was recommended and invited to teach it. "It had a reputation for being the Harvard for dog training. A lot of the best minds in the field came out of that." Through this hands-on, comprehensive program, she is able to help people find the pet they want - within the pet they have. And for this animal lover - there's no greater reward. “It's just always been what I was meant to do."
The Dog Internship Training Academy requires a 14-hour commitment per week for 16 weeks. Part of the training is hands-on with animals that are not your own and the other is conducted online. The cost is $5,000. To learn more about in-home, personal training, log onto: www.furfeatherworks.com.