Cheryl Trotter: June 7, 1949 – March 23, 2019
Cheryl had a huge impact on the world through her consistent use of reinforcement-based dog training decades before other trainers had even heard of it. She trained her dogs to advanced levels in obedience and herding competitions with precision, passion, and enthusiasm while the dogs never felt pain from having their necks jerked or any other type of physical punishment. When I started showing my dogs in the early 1980’s, Cheryl was there – I remember seeing her with her Obedience Trial Champion, Twist, competing at the shows (and winning!) People would whisper, “She uses only positive reinforcement!” as though it were unbelievable that she could achieve the things she did without force training or inflicting pain on her dogs.
Her smile and always-pleasant way of being were her calling card. Her students’ lives were changed as she showed them what was possible with their dogs. As years went by and I was introduced on my own to reinforcement-based training, and finally discovered my place along a similar path to Cheryl’s, I remained in awe of her and thought I could never even have a conversation with her because she was so far ahead of me in her education and understanding of these principles that I was just becoming aware of. When I met her again in the early years of the new millennium, she was of course as kind and encouraging to me as she was to everyone else she met and we became friends. I remained in awe of her broad focus on the world, actively participating, caring for and giving to everyone she met; never harboring ill will, only figuring out how best to bring her passion and hope for a better world to all. She always acknowledged the work of others. Her love for humans, other animals, nature, art and beauty was infectious. Her constant focus on all that is good in the world continues to inspire.
– Nancy M. Kelly