Alida Dierker – Co-Founder, Coordinator and Trainer
Alida Dierker lives in Flagstaff, AZ with her husband, two horses and two dogs. She has always had animals and enjoys training them and finding jobs that suit their temperament. Over the years, she has had the opportunity to compete with several dogs in in agility and rally. One of her current dogs Copper, likes therapy dog work best! Alida and Copper volunteer weekly at Killip school with the Paws to Read Program (children read aloud to dogs). She and Copper also volunteer at Ponderosa High School for the W.A.G.S program (Warm And Gentle Support- a structured counseling program) and drop in on many of the Stress Free Zones at the local College and University. Alida also likes teaching people how to work with their dog and has taught Puppy Kindergarten, Obedience, Agility, Rally and Therapy Dog. In partnership with Cinda Sawyer, Alida organizes and teaches therapy dog classes and plans local evaluations with Pet Partners, a national organization that registers therapy dog teams. Alida is the coordinator for many therapy dog programs in Flagstaff including Paws to Read, W.A.G.S, visits at local senior living communities and Stress Free Zones at NAU and CCC. When she’s not with her dogs, she could be riding her horses, skiing, sewing or traveling.
Moran Henn – Co-Founder and Coordinator
Moran began her love of animals at a very young age. She would bring home every stray cat or dog she found. By 12 years old she was a regular at American Kennel Club shows and volunteered for different rescue organizations. During high school she worked as a dog walker and vet assistant. After high school Moran joined the Israeli Military where she became dog trainer in the Air-Force. During this time she learned a number of different training methods and worked with many hundreds of different dogs. Since then Moran has been working with military and service dogs and volunteers for many different dog rescue organizations as an animal behaviorist, trainer and foster. Moran rides horses, loves cats, and is the proud mama of one amazing Rez rescue mix named Buzz. Buzz is registered with Pet Partners and together with her two young daughters, Moran enjoys volunteering at local schools and giving talks and presentations about pet therapy. Moran is also the Executive Director of Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, and serves on a number of boards including the Flagstaff Festival of Science, Centro Capoeira de Angola OuroVerde Flagstaff and more.
Cinda Sawyer –Trainer and Evaluator
Cinda Sawyer lives in Flagstaff, AZ with her husband and several dogs. Cinda has always had a passionate love for animals, especially dogs and horses. In previous years, Cinda worked as a Vet Tech. For over 20 years she was a Leader for 4-H Clubs including Vet Science, Dog Obedience, and Horses groups for both show and competitive trail riding. Currently, Cinda competes with her dogs in agility and rally. All four of her dogs are Registered Therapy Dogs with Pet Partners. They do most of their work at the hospital and love every minute of their visits. Cinda is very active in the local dog community being a member of the Sky High Jumpers Agility Dog Club, Verde Valley Dog Agility Club and a board member for the Flagstaff Kennel Club. She is also a licensed Pet Partners Therapy Dog Instructor, Licensed Therapy Dog Team Evaluator, Licensed CGC Evaluator (Canine Good Citizen Program) and a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. Cinda coordinates the Patient Pet Visitation Program at the hospital and helps coordinate the Caring Canine Therapy Dog Program. In partnership with Alida Dierker, Cinda teaches obedience and therapy dog classes and helps plan local evaluations with Pet Partners. When Cinda is not busy with her many dog activities, you will find her spending time with her family or crocheting and making handcrafts.
Emily Morton, WAGS facilitator
Emily Morton lives in Flagstaff with her husband, 6 year old daughter and 2 dogs. She is employed at Ponderosa High School as the school counselor. Emily became familiar with therapy animals and their work while working as a school counselor in Lake Havasu City, AZ. As an avid pet lover herself she immediately became interested and became part of starting a program called “WAGS” (Warm and Gentle Support). This program spread quickly throughout the city to all the local elementary and middle schools. Emily joined Pet Partners International and Pet Partners of Havasu in 2014. Upon moving to Flagstaff, AZ she contacted Therapy Pets of Northern Arizona and provided a WAGS training for those interested in brining the program here. WAGS is currently serving numerous students at Ponderosa High School.
In her spare time Emily might be working out at the gym, doing yoga, playing the violin, tutoring math, watching her daughter ice skate/dance or cooking vegan food with her husband!
Norma Fife lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, with her adult grandson, a granddog and her new dog. Her grandson and granddog introduced Norma to “life with dogs” late in her life. She fell in love with her granddog, and in his brief absence missed him so much that she adopted a dog – whose job it was to walk her twice daily. Together on their walks they discovered that Milo, loved children so much that Norma decided to find him yet another job – with children. So they registered with Pet Partners and started working with children. Milo reveled in his joy as a therapy partner. Unfortunately, Milo’s life was cut short and he died rather suddenly from cancer after two years service. But that didn’t end Norma’s work with therapy animals. A friend introduced her to an adoption “come back” who has all the natural traits for a great therapy animal. Norma named her new dog Hattie Halona. “Halona” means “a circumstance of joy” – which describes her perfectly. Together they visit Mountain School for the Paws to Read Program, Ponderosa High for the W.A.G.S. Program – a “warm and gentle support” program, NAU’s monthly Paws Your Stress and Reading Week’s Stress Busters programs and the community college’s Reading Week stress program. Norma is grateful to her trainers, Liz Tallman, Alida Dierker and Cinda Sawyer, and says she never realized what she was missing – “life with dogs” brings her joy everyday.