Meet the Team

See our Testimonials Page for comments from our happy clients!

Jane, with Cherie and Pipo  

Jane Marshall 



Jane Marshall has been a professional dog trainer in the Chapel Hill - Durham area for over 30 years, offering group and private instruction. She is the owner of Cheery Dogs LLC. Cheery Dogs is committed to science based positive training for all dogs.


Jane is a proud member of the Pet Professional Guild.

The Pet Professional Guild is a membership organization representing pet industry professionals who are committed to results based, science based force-free training:

CATCH Canine Trainers Academy also requested Jane to be a mentor trainer for their dog training students.


Jane loves working with behavior issues and problem solving like reactivity, aggression and separation anxiety. As a mother of twins and a foster mum (of many dogs) during the time her kids were living at home, she developed many skills to help families with their new dogs and puppies.


Jane is a long time supporter of local rescue groups, offering behavioral advice and evaluations for incoming and fostered dogs.


Jane's family consists of a husband who is a UNC Professor of computer science and twins: Emily and Willem. She is the proud mum of two shelter dogs, Cherie a pit bull mix, and new puppy Marmite, a little black mix! Ninja the cat and two rescue rabbits make up the rest of the family.





Marsha Penner, Ph.D., KPA-CTD 



Marsha Penner, Ph.D. is a certified training partner of the Karen Pryor Academy for Professional Dog Trainers (KPA-CTP)  She has been working with Cheery Dogs since 2012, when she relocated to the Triangle area from Seattle. She is a member of the Pet Professional Guild and the Society for the Promotion of Research in Canine Science. In her spare time she is an active volunteer at the APS of Durham, where she specializes in training puppies.


Marsha has always had an interest in how the brain makes behavior happen. After completing a PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Arizona in 2008, she then pursued additional training at the University of Washington before moving to Durham. When she is not training dogs, she spends her time teaching Neuroscience at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill where she is a Lecturer and Director for undergraduate research in the Department of Psychology.


In her work with Cheery Dogs she particularly loves helping new dog owners learn how to train and bond with their dogs. Her favorite class to teach however, is Enrichment Games which combines her love of training with helping dogs solve complex problems.


Marsha shares her home with her wonderful husband Brian who is also a scientist, and two brilliant shelter dogs, Ollie who is a Sharpei-Border Collie mix, and Maggie who is a Husky-Shepard mix. Both dogs are graduates of classes offered at Cheery dogs. Marsha is dedicated to using positive science-based training methods that will help you build a life-long bond with your dog.

Marsha with Ollie, the dog of her heart.

Emily and Marmite




Brooke Ferguson  KPA-CDT


Brooke Ferguson is a senior trainer at Cheery Dogs. She is a certified Karen Pryor Academy dog trainer (KPA) The KPA certification is known to be one of the most rigorous dog training courses in the world. It involves studying the science of animal behavior and learning as well as a very high level practical part.


Brooke has had an interest in dog training for years, which turned into a passion when old-school training only made her family German Shepherd, Opal, more reactive. After some study, Brooke turned to the positive reinforcement side of dog training and within weeks was happily walking Opal through crowds of people and past lunging dogs without worry.


Brooke joined Cheery Dogs in 2016, first assisting, and then teaching her own classes. She particularly likes giving puppies a good start in puppy classes and then seeing the dogs progress through to another favorite level: Advanced K9 Manners.


Working with a variety of canine personalities in home consultations has only gotten her more invested in understanding man’s best friend! Her goal is to improve the understanding and communication between people and their dogs.


Brooke has a standard poodle named Delta, who keeps her on her toes and active in dog sports like agility, rally-obedience, and canicross, and quickly learns any trick she can think to throw at him.



         Brooke and the amazing Delta.



Hee Soo with her beloved Mazi Grace


Hee Soo Russell,  MA, PMP, CPDT-KA



Hee Soo Russell is a senior trainer at Cheery Dogs. After a rewarding career as a corporate executive, Hee Soo  decided to follow her lifelong passion for dogs.  Upon successful completion of 1 ½ years at an accredited veterinary nursing program, she realized her true love was in animal behavior and shifted gears toward becoming a certified professional dog trainer.

As a trainer, she brings a special understanding of the student perspective from over 20 years of “being on the other side of the classroom” as a student taking a variety of dog training classes including obedience, agility, and rally from every trainer in the area that she could locate. 


Hee Soo was previously a part of the Eyes Ears Nose and Paws staff, where she acquired unique insight and experience from working for a service dog organization.


As an enthusiastic graduate of UNC-CH, she has been a permanent resident of Chapel Hill since returning in 1997.  She strives to be a good mommy to her beloved lab Mazi Grace.  They enjoy taking happy walks together in their wooded neighborhood ignoring the taunts of the squirrels and deer thanks to positive reinforcement training. They are an active team with UNC PAWS attending therapy dog events spreading hugs, licks, and wags wherever they go.


She feels grateful to Cheery Dogs for the opportunity to be a part of such a special community focused on spreading the extraordinary power and benefits of positive reinforcement and animal behavior science.

Hee Soo is a certified professional dog trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) and is a professional member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT).

Jen Thornburg CPDT-KA, CDT

Jen Thornburg has 15 years in the dog industry from running a very successful pet sitting and dog walking business to volunteering at her local shelter, where she ran playgroups for sheltered dogs and evaluated dogs for adoption. However, her heart has always been in training dogs and the people who love them.


She's a Certified Fear-Free Trainer, a Pet First Aid/CPR Instructor, a Licensed Family Paws Educator, and a private trainer for the Family Dog program.


A mom herself, she has lots of tips for navigating the challenges of living with kids and dogs.

Jen shares her busy, happy life with her nerdy wife and bouncy daughter, a sweet old Chow mix named Biscuit and a tireless Border Collie named Rufus. She believes dogs are the best teachers. Each dog she has met has taught her an invaluable lesson. She never stops learning!

Jen working with shelter dogs

Ali Faiz

Ali Faiz has had and worked with pets, including dogs and parrots ,for over 24 years, including several years of teaching with Cheery Dogs.

He has a Master’s degree in Public Health from UNC – Chapel Hill and is working on his dissertation for a PhD. His passions are research, teaching and helping humans and dogs live together happily!  He particularly likes teaching the beginner classes (Puppy Plus and K9 Manners) at Cheery Dogs as these classes keep dogs in their homes. He loves to see the bond develop between dog and adopter as they train together.

Ali is a long time shelter volunteer at the Durham APS. He helps evaluate dogs for adoption, runs playgroups for sheltered dogs and trains new volunteers in good dog handling.

He’s worked with wildlife in the area via a licensed rehabber and is now currently studying for a professional dog training certification with the FACT Academy. 

Ali lives in Durham with his 6 and a half year old American Staffordshire terrier mix Addie and 21 year old Senegal parrot Coosha. He can’t wait to meet you and your pups!

Ali teaching Addie some new tricks

Anessa Custovic

Anessa has been a dog lover her entire life, from back when she was a little girl being raised by her German Shepherd Gonzo.


Anessa became interested in training after she got her black lab, Dash, and started training with Cheery Dogs. After taking Dash through every class Cheery Dogs had to offer, she started over with her German Shepherd, Kara.


Anessa dedicates almost ALL of her free time to her two pups and loves every second of it.


In the slivers of free time that she’s not spending with her dogs she’s working on her Ph.D. in financial econometrics and teaching economics at UNC.

Anessa has been teaching classes at Cheery Dogs for two years, and next to working with her own dogs its her favorite thing to do.

Anessa with Kara (left) and Dash (right)

Laura Babb 

Laura and her rescue pit bull, Voodoo.

Shortly after meeting her husband, Laura rescued a 5 week old “pit bull” puppy that would lead her into her life in the rescue and training world. 

She volunteered for several years with Carolina Care Bullies in Hillsborough, then spent 2yrs as an advanced dog handler at Paws4Ever in Mebane.

She is now on the behavior evaluation team at the APS of Durham, where she helps evaluate and assess dogs for adoption and placement.


She loves her involvement with Cheery Dogs, especially seeing the bond that forms between dog and handler as they work together with positive training.

Laura will be continuing her dog training and behavior career at the Pat Miller Training Academy this spring. She is also preparing for her professional dog training certification through the CPDT-KA.

Laura is a native of Durham, NC, currently living with her husband, 13yr old spaniel mix, 9yr old Silky Terrier and 2 cats.




Heading 6