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 Assosiation 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 referals from other Mid-Michigan Veterinarians. During the summer of 2002, she ran an obedience and Police K9 kennel in Maryland where she was the primary handler for pet dogs and imported police dogs.

Since acquiring her first competition dog in 1999, Christie has titled in Obedience, Protection, and agility. Her 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- 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. 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

Senior Trainer, Assistant Kennel Manager

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

Trainer, Kennel Tech, 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!

Jo Austin, CPDT-KA

Senior Trainer, Kennel Tech

Jo has had a love of dogs from a very young age. Her love has only continued to grow as her experience with dogs has increased. After completing all of Thunderhawk’s obedience classes with her personal dog, she developed an interest in animal behavior. She thoroughly enjoys her work as a dog trainer and looks forward to furthering her experience.

In September 2018, Jo 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. She is also enrolled in Fenzi Dog Sports Academy classes to continue her learning, and holds a certificate in Natural Health Care for Pets and is interested in learning how to better the lives of every pet. She recently became a registered certified reflexologist and is excited to start helping people improve their health through this complementary modality.

Looking ahead she will be enrolling in a canine massage program with plans to become certified to help our four legged friends live their best and healthiest lives.

Stephanie Miller

Trainer, Kennel Tech

Stephanie Miller is a student at Tennessee Technological University as a Wildlife and Fisheries major with the concentration of Conservation. She is also enrolled in Fenzi Dog Sports Academy taking online courses. Stephanie has certificates in veterinary assistant courses from Coastal Carolina Community College in North Carolina. She 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 made her interested in animal behavior. She has volunteered with the ASPCA Kennel in Florida and currently she volunteers with All ABout Rescues and Fixin (AARF) here in Cookeville and Crossville. 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 2017. She has had a love of animals since she was a young child. Currently, Sarah is currently enrolled at Tennessee Technological University majoring in Biology with a Zoology concentration. After graduation she plans to attend veterinary school.
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 them become more adoptable. Her love only grew for training when she started working at Thunderhawk Canine. She is furthering her knowledge of pet health by shadowing local veterinarians. Sarah’s hopes are to to continue her pursuit of earning certifications in animal training and behavior, and to continue her studies in preparation of veterinary school.

Ashley Sloat

Trainer, Kennel Tech

Ashley  joined the thunderhawk team in February 2018 and has been active with training and showing dogs since January 2016. Having a special passion for American Bullies, she competes with her dogs in weight pull, and loves being their owner/ trainer/ handler in the conformation show ring.

Ashley looks forward to continuing her education in canine behavior and looks forward to earning her formal certification through the Association of Professional Dog Trainers

Marissa Gibson

Trainer , Kennel Tech

Marissa joined Thunderhawk Canine in May 2018. She is currently a student at Tennessee Tech, majoring in animal science with a focus of prevet. She plans on getting a Masters in Animal Science, and then going to vet school.

Marissa has always had a love for animals, and has helped raise puppies, from a young age. She has always been around dogs and became interested in training when she got a deaf dog, and had to learn some sign language to teach basic obedience. She has volunteered at several animal shelters and has previously worked in a veterinary clinic.


Amy Horton

Trainer, Kennel Tech

Amy bio

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!


Jake Simmons

Associate Trainer

Jake grew up with a passion for animals and thrill seeking. His competitive hobby of bull riding gave him a great appreciation for the subtleties of animal body language, which has aided him well in his work with dogs – and specifically decoying for protection dogs.

Jake became very involved with Thunderhawk in 2014, after attending classes and doing multiple private sessions with his dog Roxy. They worked their way up to passing the Canine Good Citizen test and Therapy Dog certification, and now they are looking to title in obedience and tracking. His start with Roxy made him realized how much of a passion he had for training dogs, and he dived in without second thought.

Jake has attended detection and tracking seminars, and has worked with law enforcement from several states, including decoying a nationally recognized certification.

Jake is a member of Rising Star Working Dog Club (a local IPO club) and recently began training his first full competition dog, Kilo. They have MANY goals in sight.

As a trainer, Jake firmly believes in having a wide variety of tools in his training toolbox, and is continuing to grow and expand his knowledge.

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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