1400 Regine Ave, Wasilla, Alaska  99654      (907) 357-2521

Meet Our Trainers


Since 2016
Senior Trainer (APDT Certification, CGC® Evaluator)

Monica has been involved with animal training for about 20 years. She is originally from Florida but has relocated over 30 times in her life to various states and countries. She finally settled in Alaska 8 years ago and plans to stay here.

She has a BA in Psychology and has worked for SeaWorld Orlando, Columbus Zoo, PetCo, PetSmart, and trained various domestic and exotic animals to perform onstage for theater, movies and TV programs. In addition to dogs, she has also trained a variety of animals such as cats, rats, birds, pigs, goats, horses and exotic animals such as bearcats, capybara, lemurs, lynx, kangaroos, African Crested porcupines and more. She also spent time in South Africa where she lived on a private game reserve to study and research the Big 5 in their natural environment using tracking and telemetry equipment. 

Monica started as a trainer at The Better Companion in 2016 and is now the senior trainer of the facility. She has mentored probably a dozen dog-training students from Animal Behavior College during their internship with us, some of them going on to find their own way and some of them sticking around with us for a bit longer; Danny being one of them. Clients have always been very impressed with Monica, sometimes asking her to expand her dog training into private lessons, and she has done so as much as her time allows. Even Claudia learns something new from Monica whenever she is listening in at her classes.

Monica currently has two dogs, the 8 year old Border Collie named Bo and a 7 year old Bloodhound named Hank. Hank has gone through Nose Work and basic obedience and Bo has gone up to the Junior High class as well as Agility. Bo is also CGC Certified. At home Monica also has a cat, goats and chickens.

In her personal time, Monica homeschools her three children and takes them with her for her hobbies such as hiking, four wheeling, shooting and hunting. She also enjoys reading and knitting during the rare "quiet" times. 

Future plans for Monica are currently limited to continuing and finishing her homeschool education for her children, and The Better Companion is very happy to know that Monica intends to continue working there as a trainer and further her animal training experience. 

Danny Benson

Since 2018
Playtime supervisor (daycare and Open Play Times), class assistant, private lessons (Animal Behavior College certification for training and behavior in dogs and cats)

Danny grew up here in Wasilla with a love for all animals. Their childhood dogs, a french bulldog named Yoda and pug named Noodle, fueled that love. Although it was their Alaskan Husky, Pax who taught them about the fun of dog training and behavior. While they have loved dogs their whole life, they didn't consider the career of dog training until 2017. They took classes at Mat-Su College in Fine Arts, but decided to switch paths and took the Animal Behavior College Dog Obedience Trainer course. As a part of the program, they interned at Better Companion and then were hired towards the end of 2018. They worked in daycare for a while, but then moved to a different daycare, which ended up not being a good match. In 2019 they returned here and worked Open Play Times and daycare for a while before taking over for Jaralynn as the afternoon daycare supervisor in 2021.  

Danny is a Certified Dog Obedience Trainer and a Certified Cat Trainer, both through Animal Behavior College. 

They currently share their life with 3 dogs and one cat. Mei is a 6yr old borzoi who has been through Agility but didn't enjoy it very much. She is currently in Nose Work and is loving it! Silver is a 10yr old greyhound who has been through agility and nose work. She comes to daycare with Danny often. Nox is a 4yr old borzoi and the newest addition to Danny's sighthound gang. He recently went through Foundation Class and Danny is planning on trying him out in Nose Work and possibly Agility. Connie is their 6yr old domestic short-haired cat. Danny would love to bring Connie through Agility, however cat Agility is not offered, so they will just practice at home. 

In their free time, Danny enjoys Art, painting, drawing, cartooning, animation, and crafting. They are also interested in mythology, nature and hiking. 

Danny plans on continuing here at The Better Companion as the daycare supervisor. They would like to continue their animal behavior education and eventually getting more certifications in dog training, focusing mainly on helping shy/ fearful dogs and their owners. 


Since 2021
Class assistant, Open Play Time supervisor

Jennifer was born and raised in Virginia and has been in Alaska since 2018. She says "Howdy!"

She came to the Better Companion in January 2021, to work as a class assistant and an Open Play Time supervisor. Jennifer has not only been super reliable, but also our Go-to, when we need short-notice help, as she lives not too far away and will come running whenever her schedule would allow it.

At home, Jennifer keeps busy with a husband, a toddler, a few chickens & two dogs of her own. Banjo is a 6-year old Catahoula Shepherd-mix and Abby is a 10+ year old Husky Border Collie-mix. 

In her free time, Jennifer enjoys hiking, fishing, off-roading & camping with her family. They have decided to make Alaska their forever home, and Jennifer looks forward to a future with The Better Companion, and whatever that may hold! A dog-training carrier might be lurking!

Heather Becker

Since 2021
Class assistant/instructor (certified dog trainer through Victoria Stilwell Academy), playtime supervisor (daycare and Open Play Times)

Heather grew up as an Air-Force kid and moved around all over the United States (Alaska, Texas, Florida, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Idaho, and Arizona.)

Heather has earned a Bachelor's Degree, emphasizing on Culinary Arts and Recreational Management. Between semesters, Heather paid for her degree by decorating cakes, babysitting, and animal sitting (dogs, cats, fish, spiders, and reptiles.) After college, Heather ended up working full-time in retail for nearly six years to pay for a car, while trying to find a job in her profession.

During this time, Heather decided to focus on becoming a certified dog trainer, a dream she already had years ago. Heather was almost done with her dog training certification when she got burnout, trying to juggle the job and certification. Setting her priorities straight, she turned in her two-week notice at the retail job and concentrated on finishing her certification with Victoria Stilwell Academy Online in late 2021.

Heather had already contacted us about opportunities at The Better Companion, and as soon as her time was more flexible, we added Heather not only as a dog training instructor in training, but also as an additional supervisor for our daycare and Open Play Times. While Heather has always been gifted when working with dogs, she also gained hugely in confidence teaching people in a class setting. We hope Heather will keep instructing classes for us in the future, as she is bringing valuable insights from her training through the Victoria Stilwell Academy.

Heather has two dogs who both went through The Better Companion's classes. Koda is an English Golden-Doodle, who is a thinker and has a natural cue when he sees or smells a bear. Emilia is a Lagotto Romagnolo (from Italy, known for truffle hunting.) She accidentally found a person hiding for a search and rescue practice on her first hike through the woods with a dragline, at only eight months old. Emmie soon started Nose Work at The Better Companion.

Heather's hobbies are Anime and giving her dogs adventures like "sniffaris" and other enrichment activities. Besides working at The Better Companion, she has started her own business as a private dog trainer with clients in Eagle River and Anchorage.


Since 2021
Nose Work instructor (AKC SW judge, BH instructor, NACSW instructor)

Valerie is retired from the military and served for 22 years as a RN. She is originally from upstate NY, where she grew up on a farm and trained horses with a specialty training for horses 2-year-old and younger. She took in problem horses and fixed their issues. She taught English riding lessons and jumping, Western Pleasure and Trail riding. She also competed in both and took people out on trail rides in the Catskill Mountains. Valerie loves training all types of animals.

Valerie has attended classes at BETCO since 2010 including Nose Work, Clicker Training, Agility and a Feisty Fido Workshop. She also volunteered for several Nose Work demonstrations at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK, at countless NACSW (National Association of Canine Scent Work) trials since 2013, and BetCo's Responsible Dog Ownership Days.

Valerie breeds West Highland White Terriers and currently owns four West Highland White Terriers that she also competes with in Barn Hunt, Scent Work and Nose Work. The two oldies are Sofee and Dabu, and the young ones (already 4 years now) are Jaxie and Jory. Valerie also plays in Agility and Rally with some of her dogs.

Besides competing, Valerie is also a passionate Barn Hunt instructor, AKC Scent Work judge and NACSW instructor with pending certification from NACSW. She teaches all levels of K9 Nose Work® and supervises weekly Nose Work and Scent Work practices at The Better Companion.


Since 2021
Class assistant/instructor (Animal Behavior College certification for training and behavior in dogs,) daycare supervisor

Heidi has started at the Better Companion as an assistant instructor and daycare supervisor while she attended Animal Behavior College to become a dog trainer in 2022. Now she teaches classes and still helps in daycare as needed.

She previously earned her bachelors in Early Childhood Development, receiving her Teaching Certificate, but decided she wanted to teach dogs and their owners instead of kids.  She owns two dogs that have been through many of the classes at The Better Companion.  Beans is a 7 yr old Alaskan Husky, and Trucker is a 3 yr old Siberian Husky/Malinois mix. 

When she is not working at BetCo, Heidi loves to ski, hike, play piano, and help her husband in their trucking company, Last Mile Transport. Upon completing ABC, she hopes to grow a business offering private lessons to owners and their dogs, while continuing as an instructor at The Better Companion.

Copyright © 2003 The Better Companion, All Rights Reserved
                   Website designed and hosted by Alaska Web Designs