Meet your Thunderhawk Family


Our training philosophy at Thunderhawk Canine is geared towards doing away with the archaic theories of wolf pack dynamics and dominance theory, and helping owners build a relationship with their pet based on mutual respect. Even a true wolf pack is just a family unit, with structure and boundaries providing the guidance needed to grow up healthy and confident. Instead of being “Alpha” (and potentially doing serious harm to your dog), we want our owners to understand how behaviors are built and reinforced. A little control provides a great deal of freedom because a behaved dog is such a joy to live with!

Christie Meyer Faccinto

Owner, Training Director

Christie graduated from Michigan State University’s College of Natural Science with a Bachelor’s in Zoology and a Concentration in Animal Behavior and Neurobiology in December 1998. After graduating, Christie attended North State Canine Academy in Sanford, North Carolina (February 1999) where she received her Master Trainer’s Certification in Professional Pet Obedience and Behavior Modification. Her first National Certification occurred via the Association of Professional Dog Trainers in 2005, when she passed her CPDT for the first time. Most recently, Christie passed the standardized exams to earn the titles Certified Professional Dog Trainer (for the second time) and Certified Behavior Consultant Canine.

Christie worked with Kern Road Veterinary Clinic in Fowlerville, MI from May of 1997 to March 2008 where she created the behavior programs that led to clinical referrals from other Mid-Michigan Veterinarians. In March 2008, Christie moved to Cookeville, TN to begin working with her then boyfriend (now husband) at Thunderhawk Canine. In the time since, they have provided numerous full patrol K9s to various departments (including Tennessee Highway Patrol). Christie has established relationships with most of the Upper Cumberland Veterinary hospitals, allowing her to assist in an integrated approached to your pet’s behavior issues. She has created the obedience and training programs that have worked for your neighbors for over a decade, and she has coached new trainers in the industry – helping them develop from first time leash holders to Nationally Certified professionals

Christie’s diversified training experience, coupled with a strong veterinary technical assistance background, makes her well suited to address your pet’s every need.

Continuing Education

  • Certified Behavior Consultant – Canine (CBCC-KA), Association of Professional Dog Trainers
  • Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA), Association of Professional Dog Trainers
  • Master Training CertificationNorth State Canine Academy, Sanford, NC
  • Bachelor’s of Science, Michigan State University
    Major:  Zoology, Concentration: Animal Behavior and Neurobiology
  • Judge 2011-2015– Protection Sports Association
  • AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator American Kennel Club
  • Professional Member – Association of Pet Dog Training (APDT)
  • President/Founder – North American Dutch Shepherd Rescue, Inc
  • Demonstrator – Michigan Vet Conference 2007 & 2008, Lansing, MI
  • Lecturer – Michigan Vet Conference 2006, Lansing, MI
  • Lecturer – Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital, Sept 2004- Jan 2008, Howell, MI
  • Instructor – Agility sessions at Camp Dogwood, May 2007 – Sept 2012
  • Attended-
    • Midwest Veterinary Conf. 2021
    • Midwest Veterinary Conf. 2020
    • Midwest Veterinary Conf. 2019
    • NTPDA Decoy Seminar 2009, TN
    • IAABC Conference 2007, Ohio
    • Dr. Karen Overall, DVM 2007  Michigan Veterinary Medical Assoc.
    • Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM 2006    Canine Health Seminar
    • Midwest Veterinary Conf. 2006
    • Western Veterinary Conf. 2005
    • Midwest Veterinary Conf. 2004
    • Midwest Veterinary Conf. 2003
    • Midwest Veterinary Conf. 2001

Jessica Presley, CPDT-KA

Assistant Training Director 

Jessica has been a member of the Thunderhawk team for 8 years now, and was our very first employee! She now is engaged and is a mother of a toddler, has a horse, chickens, and 6 active dogs to keep up with at her home. Growing up on a farm, she has gotten to truly appreciate dogs that live to please not only themselves, but us. Jess has also been very focused, and her passion drives her to better herself as not only a dog trainer, but a coach for humans. You will find her deeply caring and enjoying the journey that you chose to embark on with your dog.

Jess is an active foster, and has assisted a vast number of dogs for rescues over the years, including Shelly’s Angel’s Saving Strays (SASS), All About Rescues and Fixin’ (AARF), and Blue Ridge Bull Terrier Rescue. Jess is currently an evaluator and consultant for some of Blue Ridge’s more difficult dogs. By working through the hard cases, Jess has dramatically improved their adoption success. 

When Jess showed up at ThunderHawk for the first time, it wasn’t long before Matt and Christie took her under their wing as mentors. Not only did she attend all of their pet dog classes with her dogs as a student, she quickly began working as an assistant. Later she began handling and competing with Christie and Matt’s dogs in the Protection Sports Association (PSA), and she was briefly involved in the 4H program. Currently she competes with her own dog in IGP/Schutzhund, PSA, Weight Pull, Flyball and is pursuing other sports to dabble in as well.

Jess is always allowing her training “toolbox” to grow and her techniques have refined into a comprehensive plan that can be structured for each individual dog’s personality. She has also dived in to Service Dog Training and is helping owners teach very special dogs, very special tasks and obedience. She is also working with other well known sport trainers to help her reach goals with her personal dogs in the competition world. Attending competition obedience,protection, tracking and aggression seminars will continue to be part of her journey as a trainer.

Jess is not only an AKC Canine Good Citizen and Trick Dog Evaluator. In September 2018, she passed the Certification for Professional Dog Trainers exam – requiring a minimum of 300 approved hours mentoring, and a comprehensive knowledge assessment test focused on learning theory, client instruction, and husbandry. Jess’s current responsibilities include being a kennel manager, training owners, dogs, and staff. She was previously a daycare transport specialist.

Continuing Education & Accomplishments

  • Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA), Association of Professional Dog Trainers
  • AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator American Kennel Club
  • American Red Cross Pet First Aid and CPR Certified
  • Professional Member – Association of Pet Dog Training (APDT)
  • Working titles earned-
    • PSA PDC 2018 – Thunderhawk’s Heavy Artilary (Zook) 
    • Begleithund Test (BH) 2018 – Thunderhawk’s Heavy Artilary (Zook) 
    • Begleithund Test (BH) 2013 – Envy
    • Midwest Veterinary Conference – February 2019
    • Aggression in Dogs: Safety, Defensive Handling & Training- April 2019
    • Debbie Zappia Seminar: Competition Obedience – Dec 2018
    • Competition Obedience, Tracking & IPO Retrieve – Dec 2016  
    • IPO Helper Seminar w/ James Laney – Oct 2015 
  • Continuing Education Classes / Webinars –
    • Worked Up!- Understand, Assess and Sooth Arousal in Sport Dogs
    • Home Along – Treating Separation
    • Pet First Aid and CPR Certification Class – American Red Cross
    • Normal or Not – Common Behavioral Disorders
    • Precision Healing 

Carmen Trojcak

Asst. Operations Manager, Trainer, Transport Specialist

Carmen started with Thunderhawk Canine in April of 2017. Her love for dogs began early on, and she was in an ideal environment for that love to thrive. Her parents are Steven and Leslie Trojcak of Steven and Leslie’s grooming. Having grown up helping in the grooming salon, she brings an attention to detail and unique set of skill sets to the ThunderHawk team.

Carmen met Christie when she participated in the Putnam County 4H project, training her Sheltie in showmanship, obedience and agility. Shiloh excelled under her guidance, placing first in most of his classes!

When Carmen originally joined the family, it was just an after-school job, cleaning kennels in an environment where she was comfortable. Since then, her desire to learn about training and behavior has flourished. She enjoys fostering young dogs for local rescues, giving them a great foundation to begin their new lives with. Carmen coaches our flyball team, and assistant instructs Basic and Intermediate Obedience Classes.  Her continuing education includes behavior centric online courses, and seminars focusing on aggression. Most recently Carmen became an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator, and she is prepping to take the certification exam from Association of Professional Dog Trainers – the CPDT-KA.

Carmen’s future goals include earning her commercial pilot’s license. We will hate to lose Carmen’s expertise in a few years, when she pursues her professional dreams, but we are grateful to have her be a part of our Thunderhawk family in the meantime!

Stephanie Miller

Trainer, Kennel Tech

Stephanie is a student at Tennessee Technological University as a Wildlife and Fisheries major, with a concentration of Conservation. She graduates with her Bachelor’s of Science THIS DECEMBER! Prior to beginning college, Stephanie served in the United States Marine Corps from 1996-2001.

Stephanie is enrolled in Fenzi Dog Sports Academy taking online courses, and other forms of continuing education as she preps for the CPDT exam in spring of 2020. She also has a clinical background, holding certificates in veterinary assistant courses from Coastal Carolina Community College in North Carolina.

Stephanie has always been an animal lover and became interested in training dogs when she got a puppy in 2004. Since then, she has enjoyed training her dogs in basic obedience and tricks. This piqued her interest in animal behavior. She has volunteered with the ASPCA Kennel in Florida and currently volunteers with All About Rescues and Fixin (AARF) here in Cookeville. Stephanie looks forward to learning more and getting certified in different training methods, and then using these methods to help dogs from different rescues enhance their backgrounds to aid in their adoption

Sarah Bingham, CPDT-KA

Senior Trainer, Kennel Tech

Sarah joined the Thunderhawk team in November 2017. She has had an interest in animals since she was a child, and knew that she wanted to further her education in an animal related field. Currently Sarah is enrolled at Tennessee Technological University majoring in Biology with a Zoology concentration and will graduate in the Spring of 2020.

Sarah became interested in training dogs when she enrolled in an animal behavior class, Save Us, at TTU. This is when she became involved with training the dogs and helping with behavioral issues at the Cookeville Putnam County Animal Shelter to help the dogs become more adoptable. Her love only grew for training when she started working at Thunderhawk Canine.

In September 2018, Sarah passed the Certification for Professional Dog Trainers exam – requiring a minimum of 300 approved hours mentoring, and a comprehensive knowledge assessment test focused on learning theory, client instruction, and husbandry. Most recently, Sarah became an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator. She is also continuing her education, and this past year attended Aggression in Dogs: Safety, Defensive Handling, and Training Seminar, and is enrolled in a continuing education class at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy.

Currently Sarah works training the dogs in our in-board program, teaching basic obedience classes, and private sessions. In the future, Sarah plans to keep furthering her education on dog training and take more continuing education classes in preparation for the Certified Behavior Consultant – Canine exam.

Ashley Sloat, CPDT-KA

Senior Trainer, Kennel Tech

Ashley joined the Thunderhawk team in February 2018. Her love of dogs started early, helping train her family dogs. Unable to adopt more dogs while she was young, she would often visit the animal shelter and play and love on those who found themselves in need.

Ashley’s interest in training and canine behavior peeked when she got her first American Bully, Heisenberg, in 2013. With him, she attended private sessions and completed group classes at thk9, and quickly followed with the rest of her four legged crew.

In Ashley’s free time, she was very involved in the conformation show ring before retiring her oldest American Bully. She’s also involved recreationally in Weight Pulling, agility, and flyball. Her interest in dog sports continues to grow as her education in each field grows. She also enjoys fostering puppies, helping them with their basic house manners and basic obedience before finding their forever home.

Ashley passed the Certification exam and earned her CPDT-KA in September of 2019, and continues her education though the Fenzi Dog Sport Academy. She also recently became an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator and attended seminars focusing in canine aggression.

Currently Ashley assists in kennel work, office work, daycare transportation, in-board training program, teaches the AKC Puppy group classes, and assists in the Basic obedience group classes.

Looking ahead, Ashley plans on prepping for CBCC-KA exam in the spring of 2021, and continuing to further her education in canine aggression. Ashley has expressed several times that she is a lifer in the ThunderHawk Canine family lol! Having had found her calling in life, she plans on staying with THK9 long term.

Emily Eastham, CPDT-KA

Senior Trainer, Kennel Tech

Emily Eastham joined the Thunderhawk Family in August of 2019. She is a junior at Tennessee Tech University, majoring in biology with a heavy emphasis in Animal Behavior.

She isn’t from a “dog family,” but that didn’t stop her strong desire to get involved as soon as she could. In 2016, her family added a German Shepherd (Renegade) to their home, and Emily quickly began training her dream dog. In 2017, she also added an Australian Shepherd (Rio) and her interest in sports and training matched her dogs’ need to work. Currently she is training in obedience, weight pull, agility, flyball, disc, tricks, and anything else her pups want to try!

Emily is a founding member of the SAVE US club at Tenn Tech, and has assisted with training shelter dogs for 3 semesters. The goal of the program is to improve adoption rates. She also received an CISE undergraduate research grant to examine the potential of training shelter dogs to be therapy dogs. This resulted in the adoption and training of Krypto, who spent 6 weeks at a children’s reading camp – dedicated to improving literacy. Though the correlation is not statistically published, the camp had its highest retention of participants, with most students stating that Krypto was their favorite part of camp.

Emily’s knowledge in Animal Behavior has quickly made her into a valuable asset on the Thunderhawk team. She is meticulous in her husbandry skills, aiding the crew as a kennel tech. She also participates in daily training of the in-board obedience dogs, and will soon been assisting group classes. Emily has really taken an interest in the Force Free Philosophy, and furthers her education by participating in classes through the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. In Fall of 2020, Emily plans to sit the Certification test, CPDT-KA, through the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.

We look forward to Emily growing with Thunderhawk, and can’t wait to continue putting her ideas into practice as we help the community.

Sherry Spivey, Guest Instructor

Rally Obedience Classes

Sherry has been an avid dog sport competitor since the mid nineties. She came from a competition background with her horses in the Hunter/Jumper and Dressage sports before getting her first German Shepherd and finding dog sports.

She has titled dogs in IPO, AKC Agility, Rally, Obedience and Dock Diving. Several of her shepherds have been in the top ten for their breed in Agility and Dock Diving. Brava is one of only a handful of dogs in the country to achieve both an IPO3 and a MACH, Master Agility Champion title.

She has taught basic through advanced classes in agility over a twelve year period with many of her students achieving Masters through Mach titles. Currently the president of Rising Star Working Dog Club here in Cookeville, a local IPO group. She has worked with many beginners to the sport with instruction in tracking, obedience and protection phases. She is also an AKC ACT Evaluator, Agility Course Test. Currently working on achieving certification to become a licensed AKC Agility judge.

A graphic designer by trade, she owns a local screenprinting business in Cookeville. She currently has four german shepherds, two horses and multiple species of farm fowl.

Contact Sherry with questions or to enroll in Rally Obedience Classes.

Carrie Harris, Guest Instructor

Conformation Handling

Carrie began showing in Conformation shows in 2013. Since that time, she has handled the VERY BIG (her Great Dane) to the very small (her dachshund), and coached teams composed of many breeds in between. She has Owner Handed a Dachshund to a Championship and multiple Owner Handled Group Placements.

Carrie shares her home with 9 dogs – a Great Dane, Great Pyrenees, and 7 Dachshunds. Although she dabbles in agility, Carrie’s heart lies in the conformation ring. In her words “a great way to learn about the importance of breed preservation but also a great way to bond with your dog. I hope to share my passion of dog shows through teach others about them.”

Contact Carrie for information on Handling Classes!


Maria Ruoto, Guest Instructor

Scent Work Classes

Maria has been involved in the dog world for over 20 years. Her breed of choice is the Mastiff and, as a dedicated fancier, she is an active Mastiff Club of America (MCOA) member, serving on the Board of Directors and as Chair of the MCOA Journal and Ways and Means committees. 

Maria currently has 3 Mastiffs: Regan, Amity, and Quint. She trains and competes with them in a variety of sports: Agility, Rally, Obedience, Scent Work, Trick, and Conformation (Mastiffs are a Working Dog, after all!). But scent work is her favorite! 

She started competing with her dogs in Scent Work in 2016 and together they  have earned  titles with several Scent Work organizations, including the American Kennel Club (AKC), NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CANINE SCENT WORK (NACSW), and Performance Scent Dogs (PSD). Maria has conducted  Scent Work seminars for the MCOA at their National Specialty and is an AKC Canine Good Citizen, Trick Dog, and Temperament Test evaluator.

Matthew Faccinto, BS

Owner, Trainer

Matt’s personal dog, Fonzie, lead to the largest monetary confiscation in the state of Tennessee’s history – over 4 million dollars in drug money!

Matthew Faccinto served in the Navy from 1993-1999. From there, he attended Hamilton University and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Matt began formally working with dogs in 2002, both training and decoying for others. He began training police dogs for narcotics and apprehension shortly thereafter. Matt’s accomplishments include titling multiple dogs in protection sport and certifying many dogs to work the streets as Police K9 on local city municipalities, county sheriff departments, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol. He has become very well established as a local expert in the field of canine behavior and was a founding member of “Bite Free Putnam County” in Cookeville, TN.


Bachelor’s of Science
Hamilton University, Evanston, WY

Decoy Camp and Certification 2009
Protection Sports Association

Decoy Camp and Certification 2008
Protection Sports Association

Midwest Regional Assistant Director 2007-2009
Protection Sports Association

Founding Board Member
Bite Free Putnam County

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