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Exploring Life & Business with Jessica Stern of Three Tree Canine

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Stern. 

Hi Jessica, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today.
Hi there! I’m Jess: owner of Three Tree Canine and Three Tree Healing Arts. 

I started my animal reiki practice 5 years ago, working with everything from guinea pigs to draft horses. While it has been extremely rewarding work, it always felt like there was something missing… 

One of my current pups is August Wander (aka Auggie Wan Kenobi), a 9-year-old Mountain Cur, and he is why I created my dog training business. 

Auggie was what you would call a HOT MESS when I adopted him 6 years ago – a wreck physically, mentally, & emotionally…and if I’m being totally honest, I don’t think I was ready for all of that. He came to me for a reason though, and now I can’t imagine life without him. We have both grown & learned so much from each other, and I wanted to help others get there with their dogs too. 

I’ve worked with animals in some capacity for my entire life – growing up riding & working at a horse farm, spending my young adult years as a traveling horse trainer, my 15-year vet tech career, a brief stint as a sales rep in the veterinary industry, dog walking & pet sitting, animal reiki…you name it, chances are I’ve done it! 

Already practicing a holistic way of life for myself and my animals, Reiki and energy work quickly became an area of interest and led to the creation of Three Tree Healing Arts. A few years later, training programs were added to the mix, combining several of my passions to develop a holistic approach to helping animals and their humans thrive. I suppose training was always a part of the deal with my various pursuits, but it wasn’t until one year ago when I decided that this was my true calling. I had a family member suggest it a few years back…”you’d be so good at it!” I balked at the idea at first, thinking I wasn’t qualified enough or that no one would want to work with me. Truth is, I was just nervous about putting myself out there. I already had all the knowledge I needed from the years of working with dogs in different capacities, I had shadowed a few other trainers and turns out dog training is actually *pretty* similar to horse training. It’s all about helping animals & humans communicate better so that they can build solid relationships and learn & grow together. 

My favorite part of my job is seeing dogs & their people start to enjoy life to the fullest after giving them the tools & knowledge they need. Adventuring with my pack is one of the things that brings me the most joy, and I want that for everyone else, too. Introducing Three Tree Canine last year has been an amazing whirlwind, and I am so stoked that I get to do this every day! 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has definitely not been a smooth road…Reiki (and animal Reiki in particular) was not a very well-known modality when I started, and it took some time to gain traction. Most of what I did in my first year of business was on the education side – holding classes and seminars to help people understand what it is that I do and how it can help. I also linked up with a holistic veterinary practice, which was so wonderful in helping to spread the word and get client referrals.

When I started the dog training business, things took off more quickly. I think that’s just because it is a more tangible service, and there’s a huge need for it. A lot of folks adopted dogs during the COVID lockdown and are now starting to see issues with socialization and behavior, so I have seen a big upswing in interest.

I would say the most valuable lesson I’ve learned is to KEEP GOING. Owning a business is hard work. Being a one-woman show is hard work. Keeping up with admin, marketing, finances, etc. while also providing your services is hard work. There have definitely been days where I wanted to give up, or thought I should go back to the corporate world…but every time I push through a bad moment and find myself on the other side, I am reminded of why I am doing this and how lucky I am.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Three Tree Canine?
Three Tree Canine provides a unique & effective approach to human-canine connection. By taking a panoramic look at the human and the dog’s lifestyle and incorporating solid techniques that use energy, body language, & clear communication, we can create a solid communication system that allows both parties to create their own personal brand of harmony…and most importantly: HAVE FUN! 

Anything from basic commands & leash training to more specific behavioral issues can be addressed. I take a special interest in training for outdoor pursuits, from hiking and camping to patio hopping and urban adventures…what I like to call Real World Training. I believe that training is NOT just about the dog; the human plays a vital role in the process as well. Three Tree Canine provides the tools, knowledge, and support needed to achieve set goals…but the real magic happens between the human and their dog! 

I am most proud of seeing the outcomes of my clients putting in the work and reaping the benefits. Getting updates from clients about how their lives have changed and they are now doing things they never thought possible with their dogs…that’s what it’s all about! 

Our Board & Train programs are held in my home, so the dogs get more practical and relevant experiences than they would in a facility. Along with training sessions, I focus on mental and physical fulfillment, as well as play. The dogs spend ample time out in nature and learn about a variety of environments during their stays. I believe this well-rounded approach yields the best results. Private sessions are held in various locations (client’s home, parks, dog-friendly stores) so that we can learn in various situations and really proof the training. 

Other offerings for our clients include Adventure Dog Camp and monthly Pack Walks and Pack Hikes. 

Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
My advice would be to network as much as you possibly can! Do some research and find other professionals in your area that may be willing to chat with you or even offer a shadow program. Go to classes or events, advertise, or even try to find online groups for your field. The possibilities are truly endless, so keeping an open mind is key. There really are opportunities around every corner, even if they seem a little abstract at first. 

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