Dr. Mary Burch has been a dog lover as long as she can remember. She got her first dog, a Collie she of course named Lassie, when she was five years old and has never been without a dog since. Mary credits her dad with inspiring her love for dogs. She says he was one of the original responsible dog owners and taught her that dogs should be loved, cared for, and treated as members of the family.
As an adult she got Laddie, a large, mostly white Border Collie who was a behavioral mess! Laddie had not been well-socialized as a puppy, and as a result, he was afraid to ride in the car and walk on carpet. As a result, Mary went to obedience classes to learn more about dealing with a difficult dog, and the rest is history.
At the time Laddie came into her life, Mary had a Ph.D. with an emphasis in behavior analysis. She eventually combined those skills with her love of animals. In 1988, she learned about a new program that was being field-tested at the American Kennel Club (AKC), the Canine Good Citizen Program (CGC). Along with other grassroots committed believers, she started volunteering on CGC related projects and writing about the concept of well-mannered dogs and responsible owners. In 1989, the CGC program became an official AKC program, and Mary continued to volunteer her time and efforts. She joined the AKC staff as CGC Director in 1995.
HER ROLE AS CGC/AKC S.T.A.R. PUPPY DIRECTOR:
Currently, Mary is the Director of the Canine Good Citizen and AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy programs, and one of less than 50 Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists in the United States. Mary loves working with CGC evaluators who also believe in promoting responsible dog ownership and she loves hearing about dog owners who get hooked on training after participating in AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy or Canine Good Citizen. She especially loves hearing the stories about a dog who had problems and got turned around and pointed in the right direction as the result of training.
Mary has trained dogs to the advanced levels of obedience and is considered an international expert on therapy dogs. She has consulted with nursing homes and training programs in several states on developing animal-assisted therapy programs and is also a founding member of the Animal Trainer’s Forum of the Association for Behavior Analysis.
Mary has been a lobbyist on legislation pertaining to dangerous dogs and responsible dog ownership. She served as a member of County Animal Control’s “Dangerous Dog Committee,” to help determine if dogs were to be declared dangerous and what the course of action should be.
She is the author of nine books, including “Citizen Canine”, named the “Best Training Book” by the Dog Writer’s Association of America (DWAA) in 2010, and more than 200 articles. She has also won the prestigious Maxwell Medallion from the DWAA for her writing. Mary has been featured in US News & World Report, Newsweek, and the Readers’ Digest for her work with therapy dogs and is frequently interviewed as an expert by newspapers and magazines, including appearances on “Martha Stewart Living TV” and “Animal Planet” as well as numerous others.