A German Shepherd from a First Nations territory is now a C.L.A.S.S. act

Date: February 24, 2012
Contact: Kendra Mckinnon, 613-528-1262
Contact: Shannon Spooner, 613-534-9262

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Kyrie Ransom and her C.L.A.S.S. Graduate Grey
Kyrie Ransom and her C.L.A.S.S. Graduate Grey

Another Canine Life and Social Skills (C.L.A.S.S.) milestone was achieved on Feb. 22, 2012 as Kyrie Ransom and her dog Grey, a 17-month old German Shepherd from a working line, were the first students from a First Nations territory in both the United States and Canada to gain their ‘C.L.A.S.S. B.A. with Honors for Dogs’ certification. Kyrie and Grey are from Akwesasne, a community that straddles the United States and Canadian border. The evaluation was completed through Shannoncourt, a dog training, day care, grooming and boarding facility with locations in Long Sault and Martintown, Ontario. 

2011 was a rocky year for Grey, including the tragic loss of his sisters in October. Grief in dogs can manifest itself in different ways. In Grey’s case, it became noticeable when he began guarding Kyrie around other dogs. Grey had been a regular fixture in the Shannoncourt day care scene, and had been the go-to dog to introduce new dogs into play groups. 

Having completed a 6-week Puppy-Kindergarten class at 3-months old, followed by a 6-week Level 2 Puppy class – Kyrie and the training staff at Shannoncourt knew that Grey had it in him to manage the stress he was feeling. Having just received her C.L.A.S.S. Evaluator certification, Kendra Mackinnon, APDT, approached Kyrie to explain the objectives of C.L.A.S.S., which are to:

  • Promote reward-based training
  • Strengthen dog-owner relationships through shared activity and fun, positive training
  • Encourage dog owners to participate in ongoing training and activities with their dogs
  • Value the real-life skills of dog/owner teams
  • Educate pet owners in dog behavior

“C.L.A.S.S. is a wonderful program, of which, I’m really proud to be a part of,” said Kendra. “This program is very practical for dog owners and very rewarding.”

The three levels of the program are named after human university degree programs: the B.A. for Dogs™ (Bachelor’s level), the M.A. for Dogs™ (Master’s level), and the Ph.D. for Dogs™ (Doctorate level). The skills in each level vary in difficulty and distractions. 

“During the evaluation for the ‘B.A. for Dogs’, what the owner/dog team demonstrate is that the dog can behave in a real life situations,” said Owner/Head Trainer Shannon Spooner, CPDT-KA. “For example, one objective is to see if the dog can politely sit and stay by their owner’s side for 1-minute, while their owner is talking to another person.  The dogs also have to sit and wait to be released from a stay, while the owner puts a bowl of food on the floor. These are useful skills for real life.”

“I remember before I signed up for C.L.A.S.S., when I first read through the objectives that Grey had to pass for the evaluation – I didn’t believe that he would have a shot at it, based on what has happened to us the last few months. There were a lot of obstacles,” said Kyrie. “It’s a good thing he was so clicker-savvy from the other training we had taken with Shannoncourt – it had been about 6-months since our last formal group-training session, so I was probably more nervous about it all than he was. Grey did a stellar job today.”

“Kyrie and Grey worked very hard, maintaining a great attitude and wonderful team spirit. I am so proud of their success,” said Kendra. “Kyrie has developed a beautiful relationship and training foundation with Grey, and she is a dedicated and blossoming dog trainer. It’s really special to see such a healthy and beautiful bond between man’s best friend and man, or in this case, a remarkable woman.”

“We are proud that we could certify Kyrie and Grey here at Shannoncourt,” said Shannon. “We are proud to offer Canine Life and Social Skills here at our training facility.” 

Shannoncourt is a family-run business who expanded their operation in the Spring 2011 to include a second facility in Martintown, Ontario.

Shannoncourt’s dog training operation focuses on family pets, offering training classes that encourage the entire family to participate in the process. Once a puppy has completed either Puppy-Kindergarten and Level 2 Puppy, or has attended private lessons with Owner/Head Trainer Shannon Spooner, CPDT-KA, they can continue onto other introductory training classes, like Sport Dog (a mix of agility and rally obedience), Nose Work, Treibball, and of course, Canine Life and Social Skills. 

To find out more about C.L.A.S.S. go to

How do I get started?

Download the Program Handbook to read about the C.L.A.S.S. rules and requirements.

How do I find an Evaluator?

All Evaluators will be listed as an Official C.L.A.S.S. Evaluator in the APDT Trainer Search.

What does the C.L.A.S.S. Program cost?

Visit our registration fees page for details on pricing.

APDT Trainer Search