Meet Emily - Office Manager

Meet Emily - Office Manager
Emily Black is the Office Manager of Daack Pack Dog Training.  During the 2010's she worked closely with the Northeast chapter of Greyhound Welfare as a foster home for retired racing greyhounds, eventually adopting one herself and continuing to foster while Gordon, her adoptee, acted as "ambassadog" to incoming retired racers.  

A life long bibliophile, she began her career as an Access Services Librarian at the prestigious Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.  After 5 years of working to support the research of both students and teachers, she moved to San Francisco, California and translated her organizational and research skills into an administrative career for various tech start-up companies.  As an Operations Generalist, Facilities and Office Manager, she was typically hired early on in the companies' formation, and provided administrative support to new hires and C-Levels alike.  Helping organizations through their first rounds of funding and rapid growth, often while they hired 100+ employees in a single year, she learned to adapt quickly, master new skills on the fly, successfully delegate, and impressed her higher ups with both her willingness to roll up her sleeves, and her ability to complete large, high level projects with minimal supervision.  

After a successful but very hectic 5 years of start-up life, she took 2 years off to travel the US in a renovated bookmobile to decide where she wanted to settle down long term.  Having made several friends and network connections in the greater Sacramento area, she moved to nearby Rancho Cordova, started an urban homestead, and eventually discovered Daack Pack Dog Training.  Emily currently lives in Rancho with her loving partner, a grizzled ancient chihuahua and three very snuggly bantam chickens. 

Emily's training experience with Daack Pack in her own words:
Sylvia is far less intimidating in real life.I first contacted Allison to help me with my rooster, Sylvia.  Sylvi crowed incessantly at all times of the day, as roosters tend to do - but I didn't want to bother my neighbors.  There is a part of it that is biological imperative, but Allison gave me several ideas to help *reduce* the amount of crowing.  Including more enrichment in my chicken run and training sessions with them to get them engaged with us.  Roosters crow early in the morning, it's the change of light that triggers it.  Roosters who are bored can also crow out of boredom, sometimes because they hear other noises like other roosters (or in our case loud urban sounds like car alarms), and sometimes because a cloud goes over the sun and changes the light outside temporarily, but they're more likely to crow in response to those reasons if there aren't other, more appealing activities available to them.

So we set about getting a ton of enrichment activities together, both store bought and homemade.  We use toilet paper or paper towel tubes with holes punched in them (we use a sharp pencil) and the ends closed with a paper towel or newspaper and a rubber band.  Fill it with scratch and watch them figure out how to roll the tube around to release their prize.  We use a doggie slow feeder pan and put scratch, veggie scraps, grubs, and other fun treats in it, and they peck through it like they were foraging.  We gave them a large plastic "igloo" that would normally be a guinea pig den, and hide treats in it, encouraging them to explore. 

We also began teaching the flock basic cues like "Let's Go."  We used a small birdseed cup on the end of a dowel as a way to "treat" them rather than bending down each time, and a clicker to mark the behavior the second it happened.  I filled the cup with dried mealworms (their ultimate favorite) and practiced "Let's Go" till they mastered it - and now they come when I call from anywhere in the yard!  Now, Sylvia only tends to crow at dawn, but inside the sound-dampened coop, so it's far less piercing, and in fact, unless the windows are open in the back of the house, can't be heard at all.

Sylvia, the roo, is the most people-centric of our chickens.  Go figure, and people say roosters are usually vicious.  Ours is just the snuggliest baby ever, and frequently comes to our back door and asks to come inside, or brings us prizes like sticks and leaves found in the yard (roosters often do this with edible items, like worms they find, to their hens).  Here I've taught Sylvia to use a natural rooster behavior, the courting jig, to ask for pets (rather than what had been happening, which was coming to wherever we were and screaming until we paid attention).  Roosters jig like this around their hens, and sometimes will do it as a way to assert dominance.  Since this was a behavior we had already seen, I just put it to a cue (me waggling my fingers like they were dancing) and she dances right over and gets rewarded with a pet.  She'll now ask on her own for attention by dancing her jig, sometimes with a prize like a leaf or twig held in her beak, over toward us (instead of standing and screaming) - which is much more pleasant. 

Before working with Daack Pack I didn't know if training chickens was even a thing, but I knew that if anyone could figure it out, Allison could.  And lo, and behold - I learned a TON about training chickens in particular, and continue to learn from our training team every day now that I work as a part of The Pack.
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