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Welcome to the Underdog’s Triumph. We are based out of Luther, Iowa and provide services to the Boone, Ames, and the surrounding areas. Our mission is to help spread positive and force free training methods to shelters, fosters and the general public in the area. We hope that by helping these folks understand and address behavioral issues using proven techniques we can help keep these dogs in the loving homes they have and help shelter dogs triumph over their rough past and find their true forever homes!

We are currently building our presence in the community through private dog training lessons and assisting with the Boone County 4H dog program. We passionately believe that any behavioral issue or problem can be solved using positive, fear and force free training methods and hope through education others will follow suit. These methods are safe, effective, and based on the well-documented science of how dogs learn.

An overwhelming number of dogs are relinquished to shelters due to behavioral issues, and we’ve made it our mission to help teach folks how to modify and correct these behaviors in a way that’s fun and enjoyable for both the human and the canine. By adding in this component to our regular rescue mission, we help dogs STAY in the homes they already have, and prevent them from entering into the shelter system in the first place.

About Us:

Ellen Hartstack is the director of Underdog’s Triumph. She has previously worked for over 10 years at the TLC Canine Center in Newell, IA rehabilitating, evaluating, and training the rescued dogs there. She is a lifelong-learner in dog behavior and training methods, and is eager to try new things. She received her certification as a professional dog trainer via the CATCH Canine Training Academy and a participant in the Spring into Transformation Naughty but Nice professional program. She is a member of multiple online resources such as the Association of Professional Dog Trainings (APDT) and Naughty but Nice by Absolute Dogs. Ellen continues to be educated on the latest dog force/fear free dog training methods via dog training/behavioral books, and seminars/videos by renowned behaviorists like Ian Dunbar or Victoria Stilwell.

She has a passion for learning and helping others. She enjoys seeing owners unlock understanding of dog communication, and allowing them to see the true potential of their own dogs. When she is not training dogs, she works full time at a local tech company doing all manner of complicated tech wizardry. In her spare time she also is a serving councilwoman on the Luther City Council, volunteering at Girls Who Code, or relaxing doing one of her many other hobbies. She shares her home with three rescued dogs: a seven year old Jack Russell Terrier / Shih Tzu mix named Esther from the TLC, a three year old Sheltie/Papillon mix named Luna from Aheinz57 and a ten year old deaf/blind rescue named Prim. She also has two crazy rescued cats: a very chatty, three year old gray/white short haired named Inara, and a fourteen year old, a young at heart, pure white long haired named Cass, both from the Boone Area Humane Society.

<PHOTO COMING SOON> Savannah Thompson is the co-director of Underdog’s Triumph. Savannah volunteered at the TLC Canine Center in Newell, IA while she was in college, and helped lead the Beaver Animal Rescue and Care (BARC) organization during that time. She has strong passion for animal welfare and nonprofit work. After pursuing her graduate degree in writing/communications in Nevada, Savannah returned to Iowa to work in nonprofit communications.

Savannah shares her home in Des Moines with several rescued animals, including one rescued dog (an 11-year-old wire-haired terrier mix named Emmett who strongly resembles a goofy hyena) and three rescued cats:

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