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Ashley Olson, Liesl Wilhardt & Buddha

Photo by Paul Neevel
Photo by Paul Neevel

“I knew I wanted to work with animals,” says Ashley Olson, who grew up near Sacramento with only a cat and the occasional newt or frog, until she got her first dog on her 18th birthday. “I got a degree in psychology because I wanted to be an animal trainer.” She graduated from Cal State Sacramento in 2008, spent one season as a trainer with a traveling animal show, then moved to Florida for three years with Joel Slaven’s Professional Animals, putting on shows at Sea World in Orlando and Busch Gardens in Tampa, and a year at Zoo Miami with its Cheetah Ambassadors Program. 

“I was also personally rescuing and training dogs, and finding adopters,” she says. “I took on the more behaviorally challenged cases.” 

Olson returned to the West Coast this year for a job at Luvable Dog Rescue in rural Lane County. “Ashley is here to help us with training and with follow-up, once we’ve placed the dog,” says Liesl Wilhardt, who founded Luvable in 1999. “We do take any dog back, if they don’t work out.” Buddha, a bulldog-pit bull, was recently rescued from death row at an animal shelter. “It’s a team effort,” Wilhardt says, “from volunteers in the shelters to the staff at Luvable. We’ve saved close to 2,000 dogs from Oregon and California.” Meet adoptable dogs from 1 to 5 pm every Sunday at PetSmart, 2858 Willamette st. Tip a beer to benefit Luvable from 11 am to 10 pm Wednesday, Sept. 10, at the Oakshire Pub, 207 Madison st.