Opposite/East Lake Orphanage dog with trainer Tia Guest: Photo by Fernando Rojas

East Lake Orphanage dog with trainer Tia Guest: Photos by Fernando Rojas

Professional pet trainer (and pet-trainer trainer) Tia Guest had a solid plan for an online dog-training venture, but the logistics were tricky. She needed a studio for filming the first series of training videos, and she needed untrained animals to star in them. She wanted people to watch dogs learn, “to demonstrate on camera, in real time, how our training methods work,” she says.

By luck, she discovered Squash Blossom Studios in East Dallas, which happens to be owned by Karen Fling, arguably our area’s most prolific pet doctor and advocate.

Fling, founder and owner of Lake Highlands’ East Lake Pet Orphanage and The Cat Hospital, is exceedingly creative about raising money for East Lake so that she might treat every sick pet, whether someone pays for their care or not. For example, Fling owns a thrift store, Second Chance Treasures, and 100 percent of its profits benefit the orphanage.

In 2011, while looking for a warehouse to store excess inventory, Fling discovered the 18,000 square-foot studio, which was for sale. Now, anytime a photographer or moviemaker rents it, the profits benefit East Lake pets.

Not only was Squash Blossom the perfect location for filming PetFuntastic training videos, but its connection to Fling also brought unexpected benefits — East Lake would provide canine students.

“It was a win-win situation, really,” Fling says. The dogs could learn basic behaviors that make them even more adoptable, and East Lake gains exposure as the videos are viewed and used by PetFuntastic subscribers.

For Guest’s part, she and her crew procured the perfect pupils — about 10 dogs of varying breeds and ages who were eager to learn.

“For seven straight days volunteers from East Lake brought the dogs to the studio and stayed with them,” Guest says. “They were great.”

She says they learned quickly, a fact she attributes to the “quick and easy” positive-reinforcement-based methods taught in the videos.

“It is amazing what you and your dog can accomplish in a week,” she says.

And the dogs loved the experience, it seemed.

“When it was their turn, they would run down the hall. They were so excited to get in the studio, and they were so focused once we got going.”

The whole idea behind PetFuntastic, she says, is to make dog training accessible by making it convenient and affordable. Subscribers will be able to choose a training path that suits them using a large collection of videos and resources. “The basics will come very quickly,” Guest says. The next step is “strengthening videos,” which offer more-advanced lessons. A three-month subscription will cost less than $15 a month, Guest says.

Subscribe to PetFuntastic or learn more at petfuntastic.com.

Learn more about the East Lake Pet Orphanage and hospital at elpo.org.