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Meet Animal Behaviorist Dorothy Litwin BA Hon.

Animal Behaviorist Dorothy Litwin BA Hon.

Animal Behaviorist Dorothy Litwin holds a BA Honours in Psychology from York University and has been apprenticing under Nathan Penny for over a year. Dorothy has had a successful companion animal care practice for over five years, and is currently pursuing a MSc. in applied animal behaviour.


Dorothy's Story

Dorothy's story actually started more than 30 years ago in Poland. Dorothy was always bringing home all manner of stray, lost or injured animal, knew every dog and cat in the neighbourhood, and even trained her first dog utilizing techniques from a Soviet era training manual that had explicit instructions on how to train you dog to disarm an assailant that is brandishing a hand-gun!

After ten years in the corporate world, the call of the once-wild-but-now-domesticated was too strong to resist, and she decided that a career helping animals was where she needed to be. Turning in her business suits and blackberry for a backpack and books, Dorothy went back to school and got her BA Honours in Psychology, specializing in animal behaviour, from York University, completing an undergraduate thesis identifying visual preferences in orangutans under the supervision of Professor Suzanne MacDonald.

At the same time as her return to student life, Dorothy started up a very successful companion animal care business and took the first steps along her new career path. The combination of an education based in Psychology, and the daily exposure to myriad companion animal personalities helped to reinforce her decision to pursue a career in Animal Behaviour.

Researching the field of animal behaviour, Dorothy came across Nathan Penny and Animal Behaviour Services Inc. Her discovery was timely since Nathan; after ten years and thousands of consultations, had decided to change careers, leaving the world of animal behaviour. Dorothy and Nathan discussed their respective goals, and upon completion of her BA Honours in Psychology, Dorothy commenced a lengthy apprenticeship with Nathan Penny.

After more than a year, Dorothy is equipped and ready to fill the void that Nathan has left upon his departure from the world of Animal Behaviour. Dorothy has the unique perspective of her scientific background, coupled with first-hand experience at the side of Nathan Penny. This combination allows Dorothy to provide excellent consultations, with results that are firmly grounded in the science of behaviour; and a level of service that meets the precedent set by Nathan Penny.

Armed with her repertoire of consultative experience, Nathan Penny's mentorship, and the ever growing body of scientific literature in the field of animal behaviour; Dorothy started her own animal behaviour practice, carrying on in the tradition of science-based solutions for perplexing pet problems.

Nathan began his formal education at York University in 1994, where he earned an Honors degree in Psychology specializing in animal behaviour. While attending York he was supervised by Dr. Suzanne MacDonald, the behaviorist at The Metro Toronto Zoo. During this time he completed several courses in animal behavior, cognition, learning theory, memory, biology, neurology, and ethology. Nathan was also involved in conducting humane behavioral research at the zoo concerning visual acuity in camels, foraging strategies in orangutans, visual and spatial learning in pigeons, and as his Honors thesis, visual and spatial learning in marmoset monkeys.

In 1997 Nathan attempted to contact the internationally renowned companion animal behaviorist Dr. Pamela Reid to see if he could do an apprenticeship with her. Dr. Reid owned a popular Toronto based pet behaviour practice called Pet Behaviour Innovations, and was (and still is) one of the world's foremost experts on companion animal behaviour. After not hearing back for quite some time, and following a fruitless search to find another behaviorist of the caliber of Dr. Reid, Nathan virtually give up on his dream of working with companion animals, and decided instead to pursue a graduate program in experimental psychology studying wolf behaviour. After returning from an interview at Dalhousie University Nathan discovered that he had received a message from Dr. Reid suggesting they should meet to discuss Nathan's ambitions. He was overjoyed and quickly went about making arrangements!

For the next two years Nathan accompanied Dr. Reid on house calls before taking on his own caseload as an associate in 1999. Over this period Dr. Reid accepted a position as special faculty at The Ontario Veterinary College. Determined to further his education Nathan applied to the Ontario Veterinary College and received a full scholarship enabling him to become Dr. Reid's graduate student in the field of Applied Animal Behaviour. Since Dr. Reid was in the department of Population Medicine, which is largely a statistical department, Nathan was also placed in the department of Population Medicine. This meant that not only was Nathan required to study graduate level behavioural sciences, but also graduate level statistics (his worst subject as an undergrad) not only that, Nathan had to achieve an acceptable grade point average in graduate level statistics to maintain his scholarship in behaviour!

In 2001 Dr. Reid was offered a position as director of the behavior center at the Manhattan ASPCA, which she accepted. Following Dr. Reid's departure Nathan ran Animal Behaviour Services (while still a full time student) for two years before finally purchasing the practice in 2003.

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