OUR TEAM

HOPE COGEN
OWNER

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A client once said to Hope, “It’s amazing how you think like a dog! It’s like you know exactly what they are thinking.” Hope loves dogs. She understands them. She loves to teach dogs and their humans how to understand one another. The passion for her work is evident. She says it is the work of her heart and soul.

Hope did not have dogs as a child. Her journey with dogs started when she was in her early twenties. After graduating from the University of Massachusetts with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, Hope moved to Florida and became an elementary school teacher. Soon after that, she adopted her first dog, Shadow, a one year old mixed breed. Six months later, she found a five month old stray Doberman Pinscher mix whom she kept and named Pupper. Shadow and Pupper opened up a whole new world for Hope, and she instantly became obsessed with dogs! The more Hope worked with her own dogs, the more she realized that she wanted to make dog training her career, so she gradually transitioned from teaching children to teaching dogs. As she started her own dog training business, Hope found that her students (both the dogs and their humans) were motivated and challenged by her style of training and teaching. The dogs were becoming well-mannered family members, and the humans were becoming educated, compassionate dog parents. Over two decades later, Hope now promises that both will enjoy the learning process as they benefit from their newly formed partnership. With Hope’s guidance, people learn how to train their own dogs and quickly realize that there is “Hope” for every dog (and every dog owner)!  Hope is an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator.

Hope has an 18-year-old son, Ari, who lives in Los Angeles and is pursuing a career in film and photography.  She shares her home with her rescued pitbull mix, Spartacus. Spartacus is a Canine Good Citizen, and he helps Hope with her clients’ dogs who are not well socialized, leash reactive, or just need a good role model. Spartacus recently became a tripawd.  

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EMILY CASTEEL
TRAINER

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Emily Casteel is a life-long animal lover that is excited to be a new addition to High Hopes!  Emily is a recent graduate from the Animal Behavior College and also holds a Bachelor's Degree in Sustainable Food and Farming from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  

Emily spent almost two years working at a local animal shelter in Roanoke before joining the team at High Hopes Dog Training.  Emily is passionate about helping dogs and their families live happily together.  She has a Fear Free certification and uses positive reinforcement methods to keep dog families harmonious and prevent dogs from ending up in shelters.  The bond people have with dogs are so rewarding, and Emily loves helping people retain that bond while also developing and maintaining a working relationship with their dogs.

 

Emily currently resides in Roanoke with her husband and dog, Harley, a six-year-old "super mutt".  Harley loves to cuddle and go for hikes when the weather is nice.  She is a power chewer and vigilantly keeps birds out of the yard.
 

MINDY CONLEY
TRAINER

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Mindy has been working with High Hopes Dog Training since 2019. She began as a client after adopting Luke, an American Staffordshire Terrier, from the Regional Center for Animal Care and Protection in Roanoke. After a few private lessons, Mindy and Luke attended the Canine Good Citizen class where Luke received his CGC certification. They then completed High Hopes Dog Training’s Therapy Dog classes. Now Luke works with Mindy as a High Hopes helper dog. He has helped many dogs in the Roanoke Valley improve their social skills and leash manners.  Mindy is an ACK Canine Good Citizen Evaluator.

Prior to joining the High Hopes team, Mindy spent her career working in public mental health services. She was a therapist for many years then moved into supervisory and management positions related to Virginia’s state-run mental health hospitals.

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SANDY EVANS
ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT &
TRAINER

A former Roanoke resident, Sandy now lives in North Carolina.  She does all of her administrative work virtually, and she also works virtually as a trainer.  She can help anyone, anywhere train their dog via Zoom.  Sandy has been working with High Hopes Dog Training since 2016.  She started out by enrolling her newly rescued dog in Beginner Obedience class and continued with Intermediate and Advanced Obedience classes.  Sandy's work with her own dog was so impressive, she was asked to join the High Hopes Dog Training team!  Now Sandy's exceptional organizational skills as Administrative Assistant keep High Hopes running smoothly on a daily basis.

Sandy is a retired Roanoke City School teacher.  For 33 years, her job has been centered around working with low-income students.  She has enjoyed introducing the children to new experiences and pushing them to succeed regardless of their background experiences.

That gift has carried over to her canine family.  Sandy, her husband, and her son rescue Bernese Mountain Dogs and Newfoundlands who have been mistreated or neglected.  They currently have a Berner named Tripp and a Newfie named Sadie.  Sadie earned her Canine Good Citizen certification and is working towards becoming a Certified Therapy Dog.  She provides emotional support to autistic children and to those struggling to read.  Tripp, being an adolescent goofball, is still in training.