Dog Trainer: Ashton Hibbs Wells
hometown: Montgomery, AL
career: My first “big girl job” was as an adjunct professor of English at a small four-year university in North Georgia. I am currently the Resort Manager and Dog Trainer at Taylor Crossing Animal Hospital. As the Resort Manager, I oversee the boarding facility and doggie daycare program. As the Dog Trainer, I hold classes and workshops that teach people how to train and develop awesome relationships with their dogs. They’re such pure-hearted creatures. My favorite thing about my job is that I’m in a position to improve the quality of life for the dogs in my care by improving their relationship with their humans.
education: I attended Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. My parents took me on a few college campus tours, and I just fell in love with Furman. I had an academic scholarship that allowed me to afford going to a school like Furman, and I had to maintain a high GPA to keep that scholarship. My first semester was a slap in the face that made me realize I had no real study skills, or even time management skills. It wasn’t like I was out partying. It was just the freedom to stay up late, eat junk food, and watch movies. My grades weren’t terrible, but they dipped below the minimum GPA needed to maintain my scholarship and I had to work extremely hard the next semester to pull them back up or I would have had to move back home.
growing up: My parents got divorced when I was four. It was hard for me, but I think that experience and how they helped me through it shaped me in ways I’m still realizing as an adult. I’m a mediator by nature, I think largely due to being the oldest child of divorced parents. They encouraged me to communicate my feelings and express myself in healthy ways. I think that helps me in my line of work greatly, because sometimes, as a trainer, I have to have difficult conversations with dog owners (and with my staff as a manager), and my empathy and communication skills allow me to do so in a way that is firm yet understanding.
major influences: Both of my parents are remarried, so now I am blessed with four parents, all of whom I have great relationships with. All four of them are incredibly hard-working people who are constantly striving to do good in the world. I admire and want to emulate that. My seventh grade English teacher, Mrs. Hilda Story, was one of those teachers they make movies about. She was a tough cookie and made you toe the line, but she was also encouraging and inspiring. She expected the best, and you wanted to give it to her.
best advice: “You become who you spend time with. Surround yourself with good people.”
worst advice: “You need to be more lady-like.” While manners are important, I’ve found that “lady-like” is code for “quiet and complacent.” Manners shouldn’t be gendered.
can’t live without:
1. My family (this includes my dogs)
2. Good food
3. My bathtub