Currently Chief Solano Club's training instructor is Susan Sakala, who has several years training experience both personally and professionally. Christy Wren-Smith is the club's assistant training instructor. Susan and Christy are both also AKC CGC® Evaluators. In addition to Susan and Christy, Linda Wendorff and Dena Fennel are also CGC® Evaluators. Cynthia Cool is our conformation training instructor. Although all of the aforementioned persons have placed several titles of many dogs, the goal is for your dog to become a 'Good Canine Citizen' in the community. This is an AKC title for all dogs including the 'All American Breed' that includes mixed breed dogs.

Below you will find a brief history of Susan's, Christy's and Cynthia's training experience. The others will soon follow, please check back again for theirs.



(Member Since 2007)


     Susan’s experience with dogs is life long and rarely has she been without one sharing her life. “They are my passion,” she says, “and I can’t imagine life without them.” 

     Susan’s professional training career started in 1975 with the purchase of her first purebred dog, a Shetland sheepdog named Calcurt Lucy. “Lucy was the daughter of the great Ch. Halstor’s Peter Pumpkin and she taught me more than I ever taught her,” she said. “Together we took our first steps toward competition.” Lucy earned her Companion Dog (CD) title as ten months of age (first two legs at 8 months) in three consecutive shows and continued to be Susan’s inspiration until her death in 1988. “I have owned and titled many dogs since and loved them all,” she said, “but none can take the place of that little girl. She was my muse and was truly one in a million.”

     During this time Susan joined the Olean Kennel Club, an All Breed Kennel Club in Olean New York, and along with club members Holly Norton and Molly Bishop took over and transformed the club’s training classes. “There weren’t too many training books in print then so we all learned through trial and error, from each other, and from our dogs. It was the 70’s and a very exciting time to be active in the sport,” she said. “Many people shy away from joining a kennel club but it is still one of the best ways to learn. We had many successful members, and OKC is where, as a junior member, retired professional handler and now AKC judge Michael Faulkner got his start as a teenager showing the family Golden Retriever, Field Spaniel and his aunt’s Collies,” she said.

     Concurrently Susan actively bred, showed and trained Shetland sheepdogs and owned and operated a full service breeding/boarding/grooming/training kennel. In addition, once a week Susan volunteered her grooming services to the local S.P.C.A.

     In 1978 Susan moved to Southern California and started training for and with Jan Marlyn Reesman. Offering both group and private lessons, their clients included  entertainment personalities Whoopi Goldberg, James Caan, Billy Crystal, Diane Cannon, producer/director Richard Donner and his wife producer Lauren Shuler Donner, music producer Sandy Gallin, composer Lao Schifrin, singer/songwriters Burt Bacharach, Carol Bayer Sager and Mac Davis. “I got to handle a lot of dogs, and the more dogs you handle, the better trainer you become,” she said.

     During this time Susan joined the Tri Valley Shetland Sheepdog Club and continued to compete in breed and obedience competition.

     In 1989 Susan moved to Vacaville and began training obedience classes for the City of Vacaville’s Community Service Department. “Knowledge and education are paramount to dog owner responsibility,” she said, “and I believe very strongly that a large number of dogs are surrendered to animal shelters because of behavior problems.”

     Susan has over 40 years of professional dog training and instructor experience. An active member of the Chief Solano Kennel Club since 2007, Susan and fellow club member and trainer Christy Wren Smith are the primary trainers for the club and are both AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluators.

     Susan continues to show her Shetland sheepdogs in both breed, obedience and Rally competition and quickly admits she loves the obedience/Rally/performance rings the best. “In performance it’s you and your dog competing against a score. How well you do is entirely on how well you work together as a team; and that is very special indeed.”





(Member Since 2008)

    Christy has been around dogs her whole life beginning with her father’s hunting dog, a Chocolate Labrador Retriever named Banjo and the family dog, a Beagle, named Barney. As a child she has always been fascinated in training her family dogs. First by working with Barney during walks. She hated being pulled down the sidewalk by Barney wanting to get to the next spot to sniff the next patch of grass in order to claim his mark; then by teaching Banjo to sit pretty with a Milk Bone balanced on his nose up to five minutes before giving him the command to fetch where he would catch it in mid-air in order to eat it. She also remembers a children’s book she would often check out from the library about an unwanted Cocker Spaniel who was later trained and had so many letters at he end of his name it was like alphabet soup. It was her favorite book.

    As she grew older nearing her pre-teens she would pet sit neighborhood dogs. During these times she would not only just feed and water the dogs but also go the extra mile with bathing, brushing and teaching a cute trick or two; sit, down or roll-over before the owners would return from their vacation.

    After she was married in 1987 her first dog was a Chow named Bear, then along came another one named Buddy, then Prince. They all knew the basics, sit, down stay, “get off the carpet” where there was an invisible line in the room that they were not to pass.

During this time she continued to pet sit and train dogs for family and close friends. Once time her brother in-law phoned when he returned home from vacation. The first words out of his mouth was, “What did you do my dogs?” Her response was, “I trained them not to bite my fingers.” What they used to do was spin out of control and jump for a treat. In the meantime they would draw blood from her fingertips if you weren’t careful. After two day of this she was tired of wearing band aids to work so she taught them to come and sit pretty in front of her in order to get their treat. She had also gone to a few dog shows and happened upon the Obedience and Rally rings and was fascinated by what these dogs could do but did not know where to start.

    By 2004 she had her Long Coat Chihuahua, “Me and My Shadow AKA Shadow”, and wanted a dog that was “really trained”. Shadow was very calm for a Chihuahua. By the time he was six months old he had his Canine Good Citizenship (CGC) certificate then at eight months he was a registered Therapy Dog. Later in 2008 Lucky came along. Lucky is a Chihuahua mix, who was dumped in the country; she also has her CGC and THD. She is at least 10 years old. Christy also has a new Long Coat Chihuahua puppy, Bijou that she is currently in training.

    It was not until November 2012 with the encouragement with her friends at Chief Solano Kennel Club Christy decided to jump in with both feet into the dog show environment. In January 2013 Christy and Shadow were in the show ring for the first time. On the first day they received a second place ribbon then the next day a first place. Between January 2013 and January 2014 at the ripe age of nine years old, Shadow’s name has grown to “Me and My Shadow AKA Shadow, CD, BN, RN, CGC, THD, CGCA, PCD”. Christy thinks back to her favorite childhood book about the Cocker Spaniel and Alphabet Soup. Christy has proven that with some time and dedication YOU CAN TEACH AN OLD DOG NEW TICKS. Even if you do not want to compete with your dog, if you spend a little time, you will have peace and harmony in your household with your furry family member. Her message is to start with the basics first. Christy is also an AKC CGC Evaluator.



(Member Since 2012)

Cynthia bought her first pure breed Pug in 1990 and was smitten. She got her first show dog in 1995 and started taking handling classes privately and with the Chief Solano Kennel Club at that time. She subsequently joined the Northern California Pug Club and the Pug Dog Club of American to become more active in the breed.

Over the years she has shown many dogs to their AKC Championship, and Grand Championship. She has handled dogs for other people and mentored others in her breed new to exhibiting. During the years she also attended other handling classes taught by professional handlers in order to pick up ideas about how to handle her own dogs more efficiently and pass on those tips to her students.

Cynthia received her AKC Judging License for Pugs and Junior Showmanship in March 2013 in order to branch out into a different area of the dog show world. Teaching others what she has learned showing for over 20 years and giving them the benefit of a judge's perspective as well, is something she loves doing. Cynthia would like to invite anyone new to exhibiting or anyone with a new puppy to train for the show ring to come and join her Wednesday evenings.



Chief Solano Kennel Club Inc., (707) 469-3153  near Vacaville CA, near Fairfield Ca, near Dixon Ca