About Hilary Bolea
I grew up on a farm in Culpepper County, Virginia, surrounded by dogs and horses, so my education in animal behavior began early. In the saddle with my mother, I literally rode before I could walk. My aunt was (and still is) a veterinarian in Marshall, Virginia, and people would bring her so-called “dangerous” animals to be put down. My aunt often recognized those animals as mistreated or neglected, and offered to place them with people who had the skills to rehabilitate them. Many of those dogs and horses ended up at our house; in fact, those dogs became our beloved pets, the ponies were the animals on which my sisters and I learned to ride. My mother instilled us firm belief that many “untamable” animals are in fact highly sensitive and intelligent, and with the right care guidance, they can thrive. She was right, and more than one “unrideable” horse became a champion under my mother’s care.
On our farm, my sister and I had the opportunity to watch and learn from world class riders and horse trainers. While my sister followed in my mother’s footsteps to become a competitive endurance rider, I was always more interested in observing how the horses interacted with each other, watching our foals grow, and learning from the trainers who came to our farm to gentle them and prepare them for riders.
I attended Oberlin College in Ohio, where I studied religion and vocal performance. During college I had my first of many years of experience working at animal shelters, working for Oberlin Aid to Strays (OASIS). Following graduation, I taught English in Japan for two years on the JET program. After returning to the Washington, DC area, I worked on Capitol Hill for six years as an advisor to a senator on agriculture, energy and environment issues.
Currently, in addition to my dog training business, I also volunteer my services as a dog training consultant for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. My childhood lessons from my mother and aunt remain with me today, as I have seen countless beautiful dogs surrendered because their owners couldn’t handle them. One of my great joys is working with shelter dogs and preparing them for loving homes. Perhaps even greater is the joy I find in helping people enjoy the dogs they already have by learning how to bring out their best behavior. And dogs are happier and more satisfied when they are usefully employed and have their talents exercised and appreciated, whether they be tracking, retrieving, hauling or herding.
I live in Old Town Alexandria with my wonderful husband Brent, our three hilarious rescue cats, and our yellow-lab mix puppy who is always perfectly behaved.
I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, and a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT).