Home » About » Who is Rickey

Who is Rickey?

Gary's Professional Dog Grooming -Colorful illustration - Rickey with many animals

Dog Groomer, Head Dog Trainer, and Canine Positive Experience Provider

  • Formally trained for eight years by a Certified Master Dog Groomer
  • Has trained dogs for over 20 years, dealing with a broad spectrum of behavioral problems and issues, ranging from aggression to severe shyness.
  • Created and implemented an award winning behavior management program for training penguins at the Cincinnati Zoo.
  • Has instructed coursework and classes on operant conditioning and training for all the zoo keepers, volunteers, and education personnel at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.
  • Achieved the title Senior Zoo keeper for an over 21 year career at the Cincinnati Zoo.
  • Featured in Cincinnati Magazine for work with animals.
  • Performed speaking engagements and published papers about training animals all over the country and internationally for various companies and animal training organizations.
  • Elected the 2010 President of the Animal Behavior Management Alliance, an organization of individuals working together and striving to better understand the science of animal behavior. (www.theABMA.org)

A Letter from Rickey

Over the years on several occasions I have been asked about my earliest memory of when I first became fascinated by animals and nature. Luckily, I actually remember that very moment when I was 3 three years old. It began on a warm comfortable summer day when. all of the windows of the house were open and I was looking outside through a window. At this moment there was a ladybug that was crawling along the window sill and screen. I must have watched this ladybug for what felt like an hour and I remember the feeling of wonder about this little insect as it moved along. After this moment I always would watch insects and any other animals whenever I saw them.

This fascination grew as I grew older. I began catching all types of bugs and creating little ecosystems within the jars that I convinced my grandmother to save for me. The year that I started the fifth grade is when I became a real bookworm, mainly because I wanted to know more about the animals that I was observing. Also I wanted to understand how to properly keep these animals. Coincidentally my fifth grade year is when we moved to Loveland which at that time was a semi-rural area. I found frogs, snakes, salamanders, crayfish, turtles and many other animals species in the Little Miami River to study and learn about. This was a heavenly time for me during my youth. Around that same time, I kept fish in an aquarium and received my first parakeet as a gift on my 12th birthday.

Fast forwarding to the 10th grade is when a science teacher informed me of a high school at the Cincinnati Zoo, he thought that I might be interested. This school seemed like a "too good to be true" high school. After encouragement from my mom I nervously went to an interview for the program and was accepted. The silliness of being a teenager who didn't want to leave his friends and move to a new school, I had planned to back out and stay at Loveland High School. However, tragedy struck our apartment that summer in the form of a fire. We didn't lose everything but this caused us to have to move back into the city of Cincinnati to live with my grandfather.

After the fire and moving, I figured I might as well attend the Zoo School (as it was called at that time, now it is called the Zoo Academy) since we had to move anyway. This was the best decision that I could have made. The 11th and 12th grade were the best years of all my years of schooling. Everyday it amazed me that I was allowed to go into areas and work with and care for exotic animals. I was mentored by zoo keepers who taught me how to care for some of the rarest and most endangered animals in the world. I learned and cared for almost every animal, from the smallest insects in the Insectarium to the gorillas, tigers, elephants, penguins, and many other amazing animals that live at the zoo.

This school opened the door to me being hired as a summer temporary keeper in the Aviculture (bird) department, where I have now worked for 22 years. After graduating from high school I attended college at the University of Cincinnati in the veterinary technology program. During these 4 years of college, I took a lot of psychology courses, where I became more interested in animal behavior from the animal training aspect. Wanting to utilize my new found additional understanding of animal behavior, I began teaching my first dog training classes while I was in college. Eventually I was brought in as a business partner for a dog care facility on the west side of Cincinnati, where at this time I apprenticed under a state certified master dog groomer for about 8 years. She taught me how to groom dogs and I taught her how to train them. We went our separate ways, leaving me the sole operator of Gary's Professional Dog Grooming which we purchased in 2006. I have been professionally grooming dogs for 13 years.

One of the reasons that we are successful with grooming dogs where others lack is that we understand how to use positive reinforcement dog training techniques and apply them to the grooming process. As you can see, I really love working with animals and just like the saying goes, "If you find a job doing what you love, you will never work a day in your life." Well folks, I've been lucky enough to have discovered that this is true.

Thank You for entrusting my staff and I with the care of your dogs!