Staff Spotlight: Kirk Cushing

Dog Behavior Instructor


Dogs are Kirk's life. At age 11, his family decided to adopt a pack of Siberian Huskies as a new form of winter recreation, dog sledding. Kirk's specialty is dog behavior and pack dynamics. When he's not teaching in Canada, he runs The Dog Masters, LLC in Houston, Texas.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Last year, we travelled from Quebec to Alberta and the town of Waterton Lakes National Park. We usually see lots of black bear and wildlife. I was with a group of 4 students who were exploring the park with the GMC Yukon. I called the main campus in Quebec to file a complaint.

"We haven't seen any wildlife, particularly bears. Could you please ask Mama Bear (Jo Ellen) to send us a cub or two..." as we turned the corner, we got our wish. The students were totally amazed, talk about great timing.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I have developed purpose in my life and meaningful direction. My family takes great pride in helping to foster greater self-awareness and potential, so it wasn't difficult for me to follow my passion for becoming a dog behavior consultant.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

His name is Andrew from Alabama. He was one of our gap students back in 2006. A real cowboy and farrier; raised by a military household; played college football and was a real leader in my family's eyes. We called him Aragorn, from Lord of the Rings.

A story often told at the dinner table, was the time he single handedly rescued a fellow student who had slipped off her dog sled. Without hesitating, he raced through the forest in almost three feet of snow (an amazing display of athletic performance!), for a quarter of a half a mile before jumping onto the back of the team of dogs and returning them to the kennels. It was simply epic.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I'd apply for the fall and winter programs, which focus on the sled dog sports. They're honestly the greatest seasons in Canada. I love the cold. We start dry land training with the dogs when the temperature start dropping.

These programs focus heavily on our pack of 20-Siberian Huskies. You'll learn about dog behavior, pack dynamics and be introduced to the world of sled dog sports! Cross-country skiing, constructing igloos and snow quinces are other favorite winter activities in between dog sled runs.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

The directors, myself included, have dedicated our lives to preserving and protecting animals.

That means, we're deeply invested in our community, culture, business, and curriculum development.

We want students to be able to take what they've learned and apply it elsewhere. Earth Studies is more than just a family-based business, it's a safe place to discover yourself and develop your life's purpose.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Respect for each other, animals, and the planet is our number one value.