Ken Ramirez

Implications of handler training on the successful working dog team
Kim Dean, PhD, NCSP
Adam Moses
Meg Daley Olmert

Driving progress in the working dog field through research & innovation
John Ensminger, JD, LLM
Stephen Lee, PhD



RamerizK_Nico_350PxWKen Ramirez is Executive Vice-President and Chief Training Officer of Karen Pryor Clicker Training where he helps oversee the vision, development and implementation of training education programs for the organization. Ken previously served as the Executive Vice-President of animal care and animal training at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, where he developed and supervised animal care and animal health programs, staff training and development as well as public presentation programs for the entire animal collection of more than 32,000 animals. He worked at Shedd for nearly 26 years. In October 2014 Ken began a new role as a training advisor at Shedd as part of his responsibilities with Karen Pryor’s organization.   A 35+ year veteran of animal care and training, Ramirez is a biologist and animal behaviorist who has worked as a consultant to many zoo and aquarium programs throughout the world. He began his training career working with guide dogs for the visually impaired and has maintained a close affiliation to pet training throughout his career. He hosted two successful seasons of the pet training television series Talk to the Animals that compared pet training to the important work done with training and caring for animals in zoological facilities. He has also recently worked closely with several search and rescue dog organizations, service dog groups, as well as with bomb and narcotic dogs. Ramirez has written for numerous scientific publications and authored countless popular articles. He authored the book ANIMAL TRAINING: Successful Animal Management through Positive Reinforcement, published in 1999. He also teaches a graduate course on animal training at Western Illinois University.


Advancements in working dog health and medicine


CabanoNMAJ Nicholas R. Cabano, DVM, MS, DACVS-SA attended Veterinary School at the University of California Davis from 1999-2003. MAJ Cabano earned a Master’s of Science in Clinical Sciences as part of his Small Animal Surgical Residency program at the Colorado State University – College of Veterinary Medicine from 2007-2010. He became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 2013, completing credentialing as a Board Certified Veterinary Surgeon. He currently serves as the Chief of Surgery and Rehabilitation Services for the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Veterinary Service at JBSA Lackland, Texas.




Manti Guha, PhD focuses her research on understanding the mechanisms by which mitochondrial genome defects and mitochondrial dysfunction contribute to cancer and aging. One of her research areas is focused on exploring the contribution of mitochondrial dysfunction towards tumor metastasis. She has shown that a metabolic switch to glycolysis involving IGF1-receptor/ AKT is the key to adaptation in cells with reduced mtDNA content and mitochondrial stress. Dr. Guha has also identified that in response to mitochondrial stress, nuclear oncogenes are transcriptionally upregulated via activation of a novel transcriptional coactivator hnRNPA2. She has demonstrated that mitochondrial stress signaling induces cellular plasticity and reprograms towards metastasis. Another focus of Dr. Guha’s research is investigating the relevance of mitochondrial dysfunction induced telomere defects. Chromosomal aberrations and activation of the DNA damage response observed in tumor cells has been attributed to telomere shortening. Additionally, telomere shortening is a critical event during cellular aging and contributes to aging associated pathologies. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms remain unclear. Her recent studies suggest that mitochondrial stress mediated signaling plays a causal role in telomere shortening, via epigenetic mechanisms, while also reactivating telomerase, a mechanism by which cancer cells escape senescence. Dr. Guha is interested in mechanistically understanding why, in response to mitochondrial dysfunction, some cells undergo telomere shortening leading to cellular aging while others undergo tumorigenic transformation.



Michael B. Mison, DVM, DACVS – Dr. Michael Mison DVM, DACVS joined the PennVet surgery and oncology departments in the summer of 2015.  Dr. Mison brings to Penn Vet particular interest and experience in oncological and soft tissue surgery and will spend the majority of his clinical time with the Comprehensive Cancer Care team.  Dr. Mison received his veterinary degree (with high honors) from the University of Florida in 1998 and completed a rotating internship and surgical residency at Michigan State University.   Dr. Mison brings with him an extensive resume of teaching experience and awards including the prestigious Carl Norden Distinguished Teaching Award which he received as a 2nd-year Assistant Professor at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine.  He also held a position as Affiliate Assistant Professor in the Department of Comparative Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine.  Dr. Mison subsequently left Washington State University for private specialty practice, and in 2007 founded Seattle Veterinary Specialists as a managing partner. He maintained his enthusiasm for teaching by serving as a locum tenens surgeon/instructor at several other veterinary schools during his time in private practice.


ViteCCharles H. Vite, DVM, PhD, BS is an Associate Professor of Veterinary Neurology at the School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Vite trained as a DVM at Purdue University and trained in Veterinary Neurology and received his PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Pennsylvania. His focus is to improve the characterization and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases by studying naturally-occurring feline and canine models of human diseases including globoid cell leukodystrophy. He is incoming Principal Investigator (PI) of a P40 grant that maintains breeding colonies of large animal models of human genetic disease.



Joseph J. Wakshlag, DVM, PhD, DACVN, DACVSMR is an associate professor of Clinical Nutrition, Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation at Cornell University Department of Clinical Sciences. He graduated from Cornell Veterinary College in 1998 and continued on to study pathology and nutrition and obtained his PhD in Pharmacology in 2005 and received his dipomate status in nutrition in 2008. In 2010 he became a charter diplomate in the college of veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation. He is currently running both the nutrition and rehabilitation services at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals. His current research interests are in the areas of nutrition, oncology and metabolism. He is the author of close to 100 publications and book chapters and has published extensively in the sporting dog arena with a particularly interest in sled dogs nutrition and metabolism. He is currently the President of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition and serves on the board for the Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation College as Secretary. Besides his work, Dr. Wakshlag enjoys spending time with his family, Stabyhoun Gracie and last remaining sled dog MJ, from his former life as a musher.


Training the working dog using current scientifically-based methods

HorowitzA2SmAlexandra Horowitz, PhD is an associate professor of psychology at Barnard College, Columbia University; she earned her Ph.D. in Cognitive Science at the University of California at San Diego. The Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard conducts research on a wide range of topics, including, lately: dog olfaction; inter-species play behavior; and attributions of secondary emotions to dogs. In addition to many scholarly articles relating to dog behavior and cognition, she is author of Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know (Scribner, 2009), On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes (Scribner, 2013) and editor of Domestic Dog Cognition and Behavior (Springer-Verlag, 2014)



GuestC_SmClaire Guest, BSc., MSc. HonDSc. DHP BCAh obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology in 1986, followed by a MSc in Psychology by research. In 1992 she became a full member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors, and subsequently became Chair for three years. From 1987 she worked full time at the charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, leaving her final post of Director of Operations and Research in May 2007. Dr. Guest has been involved in the training of dogs for tasks involving scent for over twenty years; she has trained working gundogs and participated in both competitive working trials and national gundog tests and trials. Since 2002 she has been professionally involved in training dogs in the detection of human disease through scent. In 2003, Dr. Guest was training director of the first programme in the world to train dogs to identify cancer by odour. The findings of this study were published in the British Medical Journal in September 2004. She has worked as a consultant for a number of programmes across the world including Samsung Assistance Dog Services and Hearing Dogs Japan. Dr. Guest has been an invited speaker on this topic for a number of agencies, scientific meetings, police conferences and training seminars around the world. She is currently Chief Executive and Director of Operations for the charity Medical Detection Dogs (a.k.a. Cancer and Bio-Detection Dogs) an organisation that trains dogs to identify human disease by odour. We are currently working on a number of pioneering research projects involving canine olfaction, including the training of dogs to detect cancer, blood sugar changes, Addison’s disease and anaphylaxis. In 2011, Dr. Guest was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science in recognition of an outstanding contribution to development of new approaches for the detection of life threatening diseases. In 2015, she was awarded the British Citizen Award for Health.


RamerizK_Nico_350PxWKen Rameriz See keynote speaker for bio.


Implications of handler training on the successful working dog team

DeanKKim Dean, PhD completed her doctorate in school psychology at the University of South Florida in Tampa with a concentration in behavior analysis. After 10 years of private practice as a child and family therapist and school consultant, she moved to Glenside and is currently an Assistant Professor of Special Education at Arcadia University where she teaches courses in positive behavior approaches, collaboration and consultation. She also specializes in the area of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Her research and clinical work currently lie in teacher education and implementation of Positive Behavior Supports (PBS) in schools. She loves teaching courses about behavior due to the fragile nature of behavioral knowledge. Despite deep understanding of the principles of behavior, teaching allows her to re-discover the loop of errors she makes in her interactions with her 3 boys and one Bernese Mountain Dog.


MosesAAdam Moses has worked at the US Naval Research Laboratory for over ten years and has helped develop CT-Analyst, a powerful urban-center-focused chemical and biological plume modeling tool. CT-Analyst provides rapid hazard, concentration, and health effect information and has been used operationally in the last two Presidential Inaugurations. CT-Analyst capability has also been expanded to support virtual training systems, including real-gaming tactical scenarios using toxic chemical agents, and the ROVER IED-detecting dog handler training program.



OlmertM_ValSmMeg Daley Olmert is a leading expert on the biology of the human-animal bond. Her ground-breaking book, Made for Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond (DaCapo, 2009), is the first book to explain the brain chemistry that flows through—and between—all mammals forging deep social bonds between the species. This newly discovered brain network also activates a powerful anti-stress response that creates the physical and psychological sense of well-being we experience through friendly contact with animals. Meg lectures widely and is a media consultant on this subject. She has also written and produced documentaries for PBS, National Geographic, and The Discovery Channel. Meg is now the Director of Research for Warrior Canine Connection, an innovative service-dog therapy intervention for the treatment of combat PTSD. The Department of Defense has authorized funding to investigate the biological basis of the therapeutic effects experienced by participants in this most promising complementary medical intervention.


Driving progress in the working dog field through research & innovation

EnsmingerJ_ChloeSmJohn Ensminger, JD, LLM is an attorney who has practiced in the areas of Constitutional law, mental patient civil rights, taxation of financial instruments, anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism, and most recently in the law as it applies to skilled dogs. He has written numerous papers on these topics, with articles on service and police dogs appearing in Forensic Science International, Journal of Forensic Sciences, Journal of Animal and Natural Resource Law, New York Law Journal, Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice, Animal Science Papers and Reports, Deputy and Court Officer, Pets News, and Tax Notes. He is a contributing editor for the website of the Animal Legal & Historical Center of the Michigan State University College of Law. He has written two books on specialized dogs, Service and Therapy Dogs in American Society and Police and Military Dogs. He is co-editing a multi-authored volume entitled Canine Olfaction Science and Law: Advances in Forensics, Medicine, Conservation and Environmental Remediation, to be published by Taylor & Francis/CRC in 2016. He and his wife Joan have a Labradoodle, Chloe, who as a therapy dog has made nearly 300 visits to hospitals, nursing homes, special-needs schools, libraries, and hospice environments.

LeeSStephen Lee, PhD is currently serving as the U.S. Army Research Office Chief Scientist, which includes planning and developing the future vision of basic research for the Army Research Office while maintaining an active research program. The position involves coordination of the individual extramural programs within the Army Research Office with the needs of the Soldier and Army intramural laboratories. The strategy and vision of the ARL International Enterprise are the responsibility of the ARO Chief Scientist. His work at the Army Research Office includes basic research directed towards hazardous materials management, including studies in decontamination, detection, and protection. He has worked more recently, in developing the Army’s focused Military working research program and supports efforts mimicking animals for Army applications.


082614_CMOwCBPCindy M. Otto, DVM, PhD, DACVECC, DACVSMR, CCRT is a member of the Pennsylvania Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 1 from 1994 to 2010, began monitoring the health and behavior of Urban Search and Rescue canines in October of 2001 after the 9/11 attacks. This work inspired her to establish the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. She has published over 60 articles in peer reviewed journals, authored over 10 book chapters and lectured nationally and internationally on Emergency Medicine, Disaster Medicine and Working Dogs. Her research program has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, American Kennel Club Companion Animal Recovery, Morris Animal Foundation and other foundations. She has also been involved in disaster medicine as a member of the Veterinary Medical Assistance Team – 2 since 1999. Dr. Otto is board-certified in both veterinary emergency and critical care and veterinary sports medicine. She is a tenured associate professor of Critical Care at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine and was named Pennsylvania’s 2002 “Veterinarian of the Year” and received an Alumni Recognition Award in 2006 and the OSU Distinguished Alumus Award in 2008 from the Ohio State University. She is involved in dog sports (flyball, agility, and tricks), and also provides pet therapy in the Philadelphia area, with her rescued Bichon mix, Dolce.