About Us

-Melissa Ruthenbeck-Chiaramonte, CPDT-KA, Owner/Trainer

I’ve had a long-standing love affair with dogs going back as far as I can remember. I made my parents promise to bring a puppy home when I turned 10, they agreed thinking I would forget, and when I didn’t, we got Ranger!

I started working with animals when I was 12, volunteering at the local humane society – walking and spending time with the dogs. As I got older my passion for helping dogs evolved into working with shelters and rescues, and earning a psychology degree from Drake University, where I studied animal learning and behavior. After spending time working with veterinarians, rescues and well-respected trainers I became a certified by the Certification Council of Pet Dog Trainers, as well as an insured member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

Over time I realized many of the dogs in shelters are there because of solvable behavior problems and decided I wanted to dedicate my life to changing theirs. I’m currently the President of Basset Hound Rescue of Southern Californiawhere I also provide behavioral evaluations and treatment plans for the hounds who come into our care, and help my foster dogs increase their adaptability with training.

I have an extensive background in rescue work (as well as fearful dogs) and understand the specific needs of newly adopted dogs. I specialize in solving problem behavior, from aggression to separation anxiety and I also enjoy helping adoptive families work through issues and bond with their new family member.

I use positive reinforcement based training techniques (treats, toys, praise), paired with learning theory to help you learn how to effectively communicate with your dog so you can live together happily.

I live in Mission Viejo with my husband, Paul, and our two rescued bassets, Wilbur and Mia, as well our foster hounds. In addition to continuing education in training and behavior I also spend time studying canine nutrition, vaccination and holistic care.

Need help choosing a trainer?

Pet Care Team

Rachel Zeni

I have been a lover of animals all my life. For as long I can remember I would save strays and bring them home with me. My parents always wondered what I would bring home next. I followed up my passion for animals by becoming a Veterinary Assistant and working at a Veterinary Hospital in Irvine. I really enjoy working with Bark to Basics because it allows me to be able to bond with some great animals.

Angela Inglis

I began my journey volunteering at an animal hospital at a young age and truly enjoyed every minute of it. Since then I have grown within the veterinary profession, as a technician and supervisor, for over 15 years with experience in general practice, dermatology, and emergency medicine. When I joined Bark to Basics I fell in love with the opportunity to expand my compassion for animals by taking your best friend on a walk, offering cuddles, and filling the time that moms and dads are unable to, while still caring for your pet’s needs.

In my spare time I enjoy taking my dogs to the beach, kayaking, hiking, camping, and fishing. I reside in South Orange County with my caring boyfriend Josh, my silly border collie Hunter, sweet shepherd/lab Maui, adventurous cat Ringo and rather large gold fish named Fred.

Laurie Weathersby

I gleefully left corporate America in late 2010 to be home with my family. About a year into early retirement I decided to pick up a fun part-time job, so I started working for a local pet sitting company. Within weeks, I knew I had found my calling. Spending my days (and nights and weekends and holidays) with dogs, cats, guinea pigs, parrots, tortoises, goldfish and a few lizards brought a joy to my life I’d never known before. My heart is filled every day with the unconditional love of pets and the opportunity to be outdoors in beautiful South Orange County.
I spend most of my personal time with my husband, Jerry, our two rescue pups, and the rest of our family, which includes six grandchildren and five granddogs.

Mel Wolf

Even since I was a child I have been drawn to animals. My love for animals led me to choose a future focused on pet care. I am currently a student at Animal Behavior College, working towards a dog training certification and I intend to focus on dogs with severe behavioral issues. After working at a doggy daycare I wanted some one-on-one time to connect with the dogs in order to help with their individual needs. Pet sitting and dog walking has provided me that opportunity. I live in Rancho Santa Margarita with my dog Casper.

Jennifer Florez

I believe pet care services are a great way to keep your pet happy and healthy, whether they need an afternoon walk when you are gone for a long day, or extra TLC while you are out of town.

Along with caring for my own three dogs I am working on getting my dog obedience trainer certification to better understand the behavior, personalities and actions of pets.