Sparky Smith MSST, ISCP.DIP.CANINE.PRAC., IAABC - CDBC, MCMA
Sparky's current career began early with life on a farm. At seventeen, Sparky had firmly established a very successful training method; creating trusted communication pathway to support animals during sudden, unexpected changes. At the time, this had not been seen before and was considered by many as foolish. Things changed slowly in recognizing the power of supporting performance animals emotionally.
An early memory recounted a massive thunderstorm rolling in right in the middle of a horse show. Imagine for a moment, a young filly standing still and calm with pounding rain and thunder and lightning. Other competitors were prancing and vocalizing fearfully. Her show horse stood transfixed, listening intently to every word she spoke.
Working with animals provided an opportunity to view things differently. Watching, participating and developing relationships with difficult to understand animals, offered a unique way to view problems; a way to see simplification within complexities.
She became involved in business in 1988, continuing to find time to help human caregivers and their animals, horses, cats and dogs with progressively harder psychological challenges. Sparky credits the continued journey with animals, as she developed into a business woman. Patience, kindness, compassion and perseverance are not necessarily traits honed in corporations. Thus, animal care and training provided an odd yet valuable complementary experience. And nevermore-so when leading large strategic changes to 30,000 employees around the world. Employees who were each facing an individual journey to accept new ways of working. Sparky had the experience to simply focus on the sensitivities of sentient beings to help make change happen. Just like in the horse show all those years ago, she knew one needed to set a clear and trusted communication path, for those undergoing change, to rely one. To remain compassionate and patient, because sudden unexpected change is hard, and always be there to provide guidance to make the change stick.
Her business life spanned 30 years, reaching the pinnacle of her career as a sought-after thought-leader and expert in complex global change initiatives. Her successes included being a top-level Executive Consultant, the Chief Strategy Officer for the Global Strategic Management Forum, and a board member of the Canadian Business Strategy Association. Sparky continued education included obtaining a Six Sigma Black Belt, a master level in Strategy & Systems Thinking, Big Data and Forensic Accounting & Fraud, all through top tier universities, including MIT. She was a public speaker for several global conferences, and invited by several Ivy League EMBA programs to discuss her innovative methods to rethink solving the toughest business problems.
In 2015, Sparky retired from her corporate career, hanging up her pumps and power suits to finally focus exclusively on changing animals and their human caregivers.
Today, Sparky Smith is registered with the Complementary Medical Association as a Canine Psychologist, accredited by the International School for Canine Psychology & Behaviour and the International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants as a Dog Behaviour Consultant.
She is set apart in the professional world of dog behaviourist, as her past lends itself to a deeply profound sense of how behaviour change occurs between and within humans and dogs. She is a master strategist and change expert and her practice improves and streamlines the way a dog changes, shifting the behaviours for life. Her innovative approach ensures the highest success possible with gentle, compassionate care, found in today's professional dog behaviourist field.
More about the schools and associations:
The International School for Canine Psychology & Behaviour (theISCP.com) provides a network of world-class Vets, Behaviourists and Dog Welfare Organizations, delivering access to expert second-opinions should it be required.
The International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants (IAABC) is an international body who recognizing those with the highest education and experience in their field.
The Complementary Medical Association (CMA) is not only the world’s leading multi-disciplinary membership organization for top, fully qualified practitioners. It is a multinational organization.
Sunshine Smith - Specially trained to read and engage with all dogs of all sizes and breeds to help them overcome communication challenges, Sunshine is a special dog. She is Sparky & Martin's assistant and an essential and joyful member of the team.
Gail Aller-Stead (Toronto)
Gail is a Behaviour Associate Intern joining our 2021 team. Working with people and communities to help them move from ideas to results, she brings a depth of understanding and experience supporting human clients through the challenges of change. During the past 20 years, she’s engaged with more than 100 organizations in the private, public, and non-profit sectors, helping them shift from where they are today to successful implementation and sustainability of their desired future states. A life-long lover of dogs, Gail supports positive change and health for clients through PivotalChange.ca and continues to strengthen her skillset in dog training, behaviour, and psychology. Gail holds a Master of Science in Organizational Development and professional designations in management consulting, project management, and strategic management.
Nicky Hart (Across Canada)
Nicky Hart is our Office Administrator who engages with dog-lovers looking for help. Nicky believes that changing behaviours and changing lives begins with kindness and care for everyone who joins our roster and becomes part of our lifelong family of graduates. Nicky joined us in early 2021 and has quickly added value to the team and those we serve. Nicky holds a degree in Communications and is an avid dog-lover!
Martin Smith is a Behaviour Associate, working side-by-side with Sparky. He specializes in complex and aggression cases. Martin has worked for over 15 years with all varieties of dog breeds and temperaments, delivering insights and training. Martin is the co-author of "Deepening the Bond," a highly popular workshop for dogs and their people.
He specializes in cases where trust has been broken with dogs and humans. Using advance methods in human interaction protocols, communication (signalling), and relationship building. Martin delivers proactive avoidance/recovery strategies, managed schedule of exposures, and impulse control training. He has helped many auditory and sight-impaired dogs through the development of innovative methods to reduce frustrations and isolation stress.
He is co-owner of Executive Pet Services, the corporation for which PivotalChange.ca operates.
Julie Mekker (Toronto)
Julie is a Behaviour Associate. She spent her formative career as a Human Resource Business Partner, with a focus on change management. When she was not supporting human clients through the challenges of change, she took her personal time to volunteering with animals and bringing her "farm girl" upbringing to life. Through volunteering with the feral cat population of Toronto she was able to teach others how to connect with these fearful creatures and help them to learn that the human touch is a wonderful thing. This continued volunteering led Julie to pursue her true passion for animals and she followed her entrepreneur spirit and started walking with a focus on working with reactive dogs throughout Toronto.
This is where Julie was noticed by Sparky while working on a challenging 2-year case with a dog with PTSD. Julie, hired to support the caregiver's behaviour therapy requirements for the dog, she began working with Sparky in executing the program. Her skill in applying the program techniques and methods were remarkable. The dog began to thrive under her gentle handling and applying the techniques of the program. Further, Julie's communication and teaching skills with the humans on both this and subsequent cases showed a clear transfer of executive level skills from her previous corporate career.
Julie continued to work on challenging cases and it became obvious what a talent she was when it came to helping dogs find new ways to think, feel and thus, behave. We were delighted when Julie agreed to join us as 'on-the-ground' support for our Toronto clients.
Julie not only continues to grow her skill set by applying the program's techniques, but she is currently enrolled in the ISCP Certificate in Canine Behaviours.
Kathie Gregory is our Nutritional Advisor for our Brain-Based Nutritional Counselling (piloting in Toronto) as well as a qualified animal behaviour consultant and author, specializing in advanced cognition and emotional intelligence. She has worked with animals for over 20 years, and has a special interest in using comprehensive teaching methods to give understanding and comprehension to animals, which enables us to have more complex conversations with them, and really get to know them. In a previous career, Kathie studied nutrition as part of her personal training qualifications, she then applied her knowledge to studying and researching canine nutrition, taking a course with Dr Eleanor Kellon, who is widely recognized in the USA for her equine nutritional research. Kathie and her husband spent 10 years breeding British Shorthair cats, and have lived with several different breeds of dog, raising them from puppyhood, along with rehabilitating a rescue dog. She is dedicated to continued research, and studies subjects including genetics, brain function, behaviour, and instincts.
Passionate about raising standards and awareness in how we teach and work with animals, she has launched The Academy of Free Will Teaching, providing educational courses for professionals and those interested in learning more about dogs and horses. She has authored two books, A tale of two horses: a passion for free will teaching, and A Puppy Called Wolfie: a passion for free will teaching. Visit her website at www.freewillteaching.com
Jamie Wilton (Huntsville)
Jamie is a Behaviour Associate Intern joining our team in 2021. Some of Jamie’s earliest memories are pretending to be a veterinarian and performing check-ups on her first family dog Chico, and reading through one of her first hard-cover books The Encyclopedia of the Dog by Bruce Fogle. Throughout her life she has always stopped and asked to say ‘Hello’ to any dog passing, and she would always think to herself how that short visit was the best part of her day. Jamie’s love for the outdoors and adventure landed her a career in the Arboriculture trade but she is now following her heart and making the change to work with dogs on a professional level. In addition to her internship at PivotalChange.ca, she is currently learning to become a dog trainer and she’s a caregiver to her 4-month-old puppy Oak!