Owner Julie Wassell and her team truly are the doggone best at what they do. For starters, Julie has an unmatched level of training, education and experience working with dogs and their humans in Passaic and Essex counties. She believes in using progressive reinforcement training and education-based well-care techniques because these are proven approaches that are best for you and your furry friend.
Meet the Team
If you’re not familiar with Julie and her team, you can get to know all about them here. Once you do, you’ll know for sure that you and your best friend are in good hands at New Leash on Life.
Certified Pet Dog Trainer, LIMA Trainer, Certified Behavior Adjustment Training Instructor, Tellington Touch Companion Animal Practitioner, Canine Good Citizen Evaluator
While many kids had bunnies stuffed with cotton, Julie’s bunny had a heartbeat. His name was Buttons Beauregard the Third. (We don’t know if there was a first or a second.) Julie trained him how to navigate from his front porch studio compartment up a flight of stairs directly to her room, where she would come home and play with him after an arduous day at grammar school. Relationship-based training can start anywhere when you least expect it. Next came some very special felines, parakeets and the life-changing dog named Nanny.
A blown knee ended a promising dance career and choice ended years as a top concierge in three of New York’s Five-Diamond Hotels “training” up and coming concierges.
Her Life’s Mission
All of these life adventures contributed to Julie’s dream/mission to work full time with animals, primarily as a dog trainer and life coach. To be a “Top Trainer,” you need to be trained yourself. Halfway is not an option for Julie. That’s why she’s studied with some of the best in the field, including Linda Tellington-Jones, Pam Dennison, Ian Dunbar, Patricia McConnell, Sue Sternberg, Kathy Cascade, Sarah Wilson & Liz Catalano.
You could say Julie’s career has gone to the dogs. During her years of training, Julie gained additional knowledge in the important areas of health and nutrition while managing one of New Jersey’s Holistic Pet Food Stores, Mike’s Feed Farm. After receiving her education at Clayton College of Natural Health, Julie branched out to share her knowledge and love for companion animals by writing a monthly column for Greenpaw.com. When her beloved Nanny became severely crippled with arthritis, Julie studied the use of essential oils and went on to become a Tellington TTouch Practitioner. Her use of these modalities, combined with nutrition, extended Nanny’s life for an extra two years!
Shortly after Nanny’s passing, Dixie, her Collie mix puppy, landed in New Jersey from the countryside of Kentucky complete with love and major fear issues. The rest is history. While Dixie led Julie into the world of training, Julie did a “Sit Stay” in the world of behavior modification. Dixie’s fear of anything male, new, sudden, approaching or that’s just plain scary has provided Julie with the opportunity to learn and master various techniques in teaching fearful dogs that this planet isn’t so bad after all and it can even be a safe and happy place. Julie takes pride in her ability and intuitive nature in recognizing the early signs of shy and fearful puppies and turning them around to be happy, confident dogs.
Next in line was Bentley, a male Golden Retriever rescued from a doggy day care. Golden and goofy, yet sharp and loving, Bentley loved to do “rally and agility” but was best at assisting his mom with her canine students—whether it was socializing or just plain showing them how things were done—the right way.
Next came Wiley, who didn’t fare well in shelter conditions. He came for a short visit as a foster for a regroup. Well, he regrouped alright! He became a beloved family member most bonded to Julie’s husband Doug.
In the timespan of three years, the “Dream Team” passed. While Julie prided herself in being what she called a “rescue snob,” she was curious what it would be like to work with a breeder. Enter Lambert, whose full title was “Gaylans Lambert my Latte” (from the Coffee Litter, of course).
Julie, the large dog rescue snob, inherited Kawaii, a 14-year-old, blind, disabled, 3-pound, toothless mini Pomeranian when a dear friend passed. While her life with Julie and Doug was short, it was enriching and sweet for all.
Soon after Kawaii’s passing, a former colleague sent a picture of a little Cattle Dog puppy from Texas who was relinquished because he was deaf. Julie was asked if she could find anyone to adopt him. Her response? “NO! Bring him here!” He has been a beloved family member and a learning curve ever since—a buddy, a teacher and a joy!
Executive Assistant Extraordinaire
When I was young, I always knew I wanted to work with animals. I contemplated many professions, including becoming a vet, working for an animal rescue and even caring for animals on a farm. That life path changed when I realized all the difficult and painful situations these professionals are faced with on a daily basis. I did not feel my heart could handle it, but my passion for working with animals never left me.
A Special Teacher
Instead, I took the desire to influence the lives of animals and turned it into an opportunity to be an influence on children. I am now a special education teacher where I spend endless hours creating behavior management programs and building relationships with my students. I try to focus on the positives instead of pointing out the negatives and have seen amazing results. It is the same belief that brought me to working with dogs. As an assistant trainer, I found that I can apply all the patience and behavioral methods I use on a daily basis to help families embrace their own furry family members to have a truly unique relationship with their pets.
A Cherished Gift
When I was a sophomore in college, I was blessed with a baby girl in the form of a Black Labrador Retriever who had been badly abused and in desperate need of someone to love her and, in return, someone to share her love with. Through patience and training, my relationship with her was my most cherished gift. She was the most loyal and loving member of my family. Although the obstacles we had to overcome seemed impossible at times, I would not be who I am today without sharing this process with her.
A Rewarding Connection
Since her passing, we adopted a Black Lab mix named Jack! In the years that we have had Jack, we also added two little (human) girls to our family. Jack’s training is seen every day in his loving and gentle nature toward the kids. Nothing makes me happier than being able to share my experiences with new pet parents and to help them begin the same process with their pets that I went through so many years ago. Seeing the amazing growth of these families over time makes this the most rewarding job a person can have.
Lou Plumey & Janet Matasic
Trainers Specializing in Reactivity and Socialization
Lou has been joyfully and successfully self-employed as a dog trainer, offering a range of dog care services since 2014. While Lou’s keen observational skills enable him to detect minute canine social cues and translate behaviors that might be considered “confusing”, his compassionate, relaxed nature invite an easy exchange of ideas. Lou creates individualized and progressive Rewards-Based curricula that help build canine confidence and trust so that the fullest harmonious relationships between humans and their canine companions can be achieved. Lou is happiest in the field, specializing in calming methods for reactive dogs that are fearful, anxious, or frustrated in the environment outside or at their doors, which often includes other dogs and strangers. Lou and his wife may also provide walk-and-train sessions in the parks and reservations (without the human family member and if appropriate, with other dogs) between full family sessions in order to acclimate the pups to new behaviors.
Louis Plumey is a CATCH Certified Dog Trainer CCDT and Behavior Consultant and also holds NJ Animal Control Certification, a former appointment where he met Julie, who was hired as the shelter dog trainer. There were many hours of collaboration on the very unique needs of each dog and it is here that Lou’s mission in life evolved into dog trainer. Lou, his wife, Janet (who was a lead shelter volunteer), and Julie remain close friends and will collaborate now and again for the benefit of the dogs they have come to know and love.
Janet Matasic, Lou’s wife of 37 years and a retired Special Education teacher, excels in her ability to enhance the lives of the Special Needs dogs of all ages. Janet has an uncanny way of making the dogs in her presence feel loved and safe. Her patient observations and gentle encouragement make for a fun walking adventure while building confidence and calm in her furry companions. Janet received her FernDog Certificate in dog training in 2016. She also happily embraces the learning opportunities as she assists Lou in his work.
Lou and Janet refer to themselves as the family of Tasha Rabbit and Itchy Spirit. Itchy, their beloved Amstaff Terrier rescue was their smart, sassy, and more than a little reactive Master Teacher, who helped Lou and Janet gather wisdom about all things DOG. After a decade of Family Love, Itchy passed over and became Spirit. It was Itchy Spirit’s friends who introduced Lou and Janet to Tasha Rabbit, an affectionate, worried and anxious Pit Bull Terrier mix with her own brand of reactive behavior. The much loved Tasha Rabbit now continues their mentoring and the family enjoys a beautiful life full of laughter, snuggles, and hikes.
Assistant Trainer and Boarding Coordinator
Alex Marino brings to the New Leash on Life team a keen eye and a fresh spirit. She is currently in the completion faze of her certification at the Catch Canine Training Academy. Alex brings with her years of experience working with dogs of all ages, sizes and temperaments. Alex once worked at some of the most popular doggy daycares, to name a few, K9Resorts, Pet Paradise and Camp Bow Wow. Not satisfied withe the limitations doggie day care allowed her to to contribute to the welfare of the canines under her care she left to pursue her mission as a dog communicator and trainer. A strong believer in positive reinforcement , Alex believes and does treat all dogs as friends and family members. Franklyn her Australian Mix heart dog is teaching her the ropes of Agility Training. Together they are a welcome part of the New Leash on Life Family.