Hi, I’m Jillian (Gartner) Emerson, the face behind APAW.
I first got into Poodles/Service Dogs by raising a Poodle pup for NEADS in Princeton, MA as a homeschool project when I was 11 years old. I later volunteered at the NEADS kennel for many years, including assisting trainers, completing an internship, a temp job at their puppy house, and much later as a live-on-site ‘house parent’ for clients coming to train and receive their Service Dog.
During my teens I was very active in 4-H, specifically through Holden’s Huggable Hounds where I trained and competed with two Standards of my own, Max and Charlie, and began making therapy visits.
At 18 I moved to California to attend Bergin University of Canine Studies (at the time, the Assistance Dog Institute), where I really honed my training skills in a variety of areas and learned much more about disabilities and client instruction, starting a non-profit, and running a breeding program (among many other topics). With the encouragement of many instructors, after school I took on the challenge of creating a new program, focusing on developing a Poodle line that was purpose-bred for the traits needed for Service work, which exist in the breed but are often entwined with other incompatible traits (such as alarm barking, dog reactivity, and low food motivation).