About LIMA beings

How did all this start?

In April of 2020, Kathy Sdao, Dr. Chris Pachel, Marissa Martino, Lynn Ungar and Barrie Finger were honored to be joined by the fabulous Dr. Patricia McConnell in leading a pair of online conversations called "Come. Sit. Stay." These virtual discussions invited us to consider how we, as positive reinforcement based trainers, might respond to daily life amidst the burgeoning COVID pandemic. In the following months, Kathy, Chris, Marissa, Lynn, and Barrie continued to join together in virtual meetings, exploring the power of these concepts during these unsettling times. Over time, these heartfelt and life-giving chats germinated LIMA beings: The ABCs of Everything, a six-week course featuring recorded conversations among the five founders on how we use antecedents and consequences to shape human behavior, including our own. The process was enriched by three live conversations with our insightful course participants and by participant sharing on a community bulletin board. After the course was over, we realized we’d only become more engaged with and curious about the power of this material. We’ve just begun our exploration! And so we invite you to join our LIMA beings community for continued conversation, learning, and support.

Dr. Chris Pachel

Dr. Chris Pachel (he, him, his) received his veterinary degree from the University of MN in 2002 and became board certified by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists in 2010. He has operated both house-call and office-based veterinary behavior practices and is currently the owner and lead clinician at the Animal Behavior Clinic in Portland, OR. Dr. Pachel lectures extensively throughout the US as well as internationally, teaches courses at multiple veterinary schools in the US, and has authored several articles and book chapters on topics such as Intercat aggression and Pet selection for animal-assisted therapy. He is also a co-owner of Instinct Portland, a positive reinforcement based dog training business, which was launched in the fall of 2020.

Kathy Sdao

Kathy Sdao (she, her, hers) is an applied animal behaviorist. She’s been a full-time animal trainer for thirty-five years, first with marine mammals (for the University of Hawaii, the United States Navy, and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium), now with dogs and their people. Kathy launched Bright Spot Dog Training in 1998; services include consulting with families about their challenging dogs and mentoring professional trainers who want to maximize the power of positive-reinforcement training. Kathy has taught at venues across the United States, Canada, and Europe, and in Australia, Israel, Japan, and Mexico. In 2012, she published her first book, Plenty in Life Is Free: Reflections on Dogs, Training and Finding Grace.

Rev. Dr. Lynn Ungar

Rev. Dr. Lynn Ungar (she, her, hers) is a poet, a minister, and an avid dog sport trainer. In March of 2020, her poem “Pandemic” went viral, and she has continued to share reflections in poetry and prose on living in these complicated times. Her poems have appeared in a wide variety of anthologies, and in her collection Bread and Other Miracles. Lynn began training dogs and competing in obedience as a child in the 1970s, and discovered clicker training through the canine musical freestyle community in 2004. She works with students in obedience, rally, rally free, and musical freestyle, and competes in agility as well as those sports. LIMA Beings sits at the intersection of Lynn’s more than 25 years as a Unitarian Universalist minister, a lifetime of writing poetry, and a deep love of the principles of reinforcement-based behavior as applied across species.

Barrie Finger

Barrie Finger (she, her, hers) is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who has been helping families with their dogs in the Denver Metro Area for over 20 years. Through her business, Mindful Dog Training, she combines her deep desire to treat both dogs and their humans with appreciation, compassion and insight, as well as a dedication to continuing education to more skillfully serve the needs of the families that come to her for support. Barrie is also an avid student of mindfulness and Buddhist philosophy and practice. She regularly encounters how these teachings overlap with the science of behavior in profound ways, and has found immense value, both personally and professionally, in how each perspective informs and supports the other.

Marissa Martino

Marissa Martino (she, her, hers) began her career working with canine companions after attending the Academy for Dog Trainers in 2007. Since then, Marissa has had the pleasure of working for three different animal shelters directing their behavior departments in Colorado and California. Currently, Marissa is the Community Liaison at Dumb Friends League, offering animal shelters in rural Colorado access to education, consulting, and resources to make a larger impact for the pets and people in their communities. In addition to her animal welfare career, Marissa operates her private practice, Paws & Reward, in Boulder, CO. Marissa’s unique approach inspires behavioral transformation for both​ dogs and their pet parents. She is the author of Human-Canine Behavior Connection: Building Better Relationships Through Dog Training and hosts the Paws & Reward Podcast. She shares her life with her family and beloved dog, Sully.