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 in 2005, when she passed a standardized exam for professional dog training and most recently, Christie passed a standardized exam specific to clinical behavior consultation and behavior modification. She stays current and employs on science based principals through extensive continuing education (partial list below).

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.

Credentials and Continuing Education

  • 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 – International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP)
  • 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

Emily Eastham

Senior Trainer, Assistant Office Manager

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 passed the National Certification exam with flying colors, but continues learning.

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

   Carmen Trojcak, CCFT

      Senior Trainer

Most of you know that Carmen started out training when her parents would bring her to 4H meet-ups with her sweet Sheltie, Shiloh. Her love for dogs began early on, and she was in an ideal environment for that love to thrive.

She grew up in her parents dog grooming shop. Before graduating high school, Carmen was a trusted employee that started in April of 2017. Since that time, she’s helped so many people in our community, earned a national training certification, started her own boarding business called Inspired Paws of Cookeville (while still being a vital part of ours), and competing in many sports with her dogs.

With titles in Dock Diving in NADD with Hawk DS, DM, and DE . Carmen also is a member of the Queen City Road Runners flyball team having titles with Hawk in Flyball with FD, FDX, FDCH, FDCH-S, and FDCH-G. She also attended a National Event with Hiraeth where some of the very best Dutch Shepherds had gathered from across the country. Hiraeth and Carmen got their BH-VT in IGP, CASU, conformation ring for a National Breed Specialty. Carmen earned two (her first two) working titles participating in all 3 events earned her a “Triple Crown” participation certificate as well…. one of only 8 dogs from across the country.

She enjoys fostering young dogs for local rescues, giving them a great foundation to begin their new lives with, and assistant instructs Basic and Intermediate Obedience Classes at Thunderhawk Canine. Carmen became an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator, CPR First Aid Cat and Dog Certified, and Certified Canine Fitness Trainer.

Stephanie Miller

Outdoor Adventures Instructor

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

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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