About Prairie Dog Pet Mercantile

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Meet Our Team

Amy Barker, CPDT-KA, and Daniel Pringle

In November 2013 we were given an amazing opportunity to buy Prairie Dog from Don and Cyndi Cutler, founders and owners since 2009. Thanks to them, Prairie Dog has become a community place in which people and dogs mingle (and get treats). We are proud to carry on their values and their dream in this adventure.
This is our first endeavor as business owners, but Prairie Dog embodies many things that we deeply care about. Before Amy began working at Prairie Dog in 2010 she had a career in the photography industry but had really discovered a passion for dog training while learning to live with her troublesome but lovable pound-rescued Husky-Malamute, Loki. While she’d grown up with family dogs, Loki gave her a challenge that inspired her curiosity. She found a natural talent for working with dogs, interpreting dog behavior, and sharing her knowledge to create happy dogs and relieved owners. That experience motivated her to begin teaching at Diamonds in the Ruff, a positive reinforcement school focusing on the pet-owner relationship, and eventually became a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). Dan also grew up with pets and has a unique respect and care for animals. He’s a librarian at Spokane Public Library, where he helps people find information and connect to resources to enhance their lives. This means you may not see him around the store much, but he’ll be involved with our web presence here and on Facebook. In our free time, we can often be spotted outdoors hiking or snowshoeing with our Samoyed, Piper, and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Declan.

Dakota Eckenroth

Operations Manager

Dakota loves the question of why

While volunteering with undersocialized rescue dogs in Los Angeles, Dakota discovered a deep interest in positive reinforcement training. The doggie daycare where she worked also sold high-quality pet food, and it became increasingly clear to Dakota that nutrition and behavior went hand-in-hand. Not surprisingly, when she moved to Spokane in 2016, she found her niche at Prairie Dog almost immediately! 

Her lifelong passion for education makes Dakota a valuable resource for Spokane’s pet parents. Prairie Dog customers rely on her to help them dig deeper — when they’ve been thinking about making a change in their pet’s food or training regimen but want some clarification or real-life examples. 

Because Dakota has a soft spot for shy dogs, she teaches owners how to understand, respect, and advocate for their animals. She practices what she preaches with her two rescue dogs: Fenris, a senior Australian Kelpie, and Jake, an Australian Cattle Dog. 

Since 2017, Dakota has also been honing her training skills at Diamonds in the Ruff, where she is now an assistant co-instructor

“When it comes to information about our animals, everything is changing and evolving. The more we know, the better we can do for pets and their people.”

Emily Ladd

Store Manager

Jennifer Kessler-Derouach

Merchandising Lead

Alex Huizenga

Mandy Gardipe

Eva Ellert

With Prairie Dog clients and her yoga students alike, Eva is all about balance. 

When a subject captures Eva’s interest, she doesn’t stop at a Google search. She dives deep and resurfaces with a nuanced understanding that’s ready to pass on to others. That’s exactly what happened when she adopted a special needs dog. Undersocialized and ill-treated by her previous owner, Darcy the Staffordshire mix faced issues that inspired Eva to immerse herself in the world of nutrition, behavior, and training. 

Caring for Darcy also prompted Eva to become a customer at Prairie Dog. Having noticed her compassion and dogged pursuit of knowledge, owner Amy Barker encouraged her to apply for a position at PDPM. Eva came onboard in 2018. 

Three dogs call Eva’s house home. Murphy, an energetic French Bulldog, joined the family when Eva’s husband adopted him from California. Babs, a Siberian Husky, followed their roommate home and never left. Lucy, a young Rottweiler, joined the family after Darcy passed and has been with Eva since puppyhood. 

Eva’s background as a yoga instructor enables her to help customers connect with their pets on a deeper level. Drawing on personal experience as well as extensive research, she takes particular pride in giving hope to clients who feel they are at a loss in trying to improve their pet’s quality of life. 

“It’s easy to think all cats are the same, or all dogs, but they are absolutely individual beings. Each one has unique needs, and they feel much more emotion than we sometimes think they do.”

Candy O'Quin

Damon Sanders

Vicki Barker

From bookkeeping to training and everything in between, Vicki is Prairie Dog’s gal Friday. 

At the tender age of 10, Vicki happened across a television program that explained the process of guide dog training. She glanced from the screen toward the family Border Collie, Peppy — and the rest, as they say, is history. Nowadays, she’s Diamonds in the Ruff’s agility instructor and one of their co-evaluators for the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen program. 

She also teaches at Prairie Dog, but she’s not just a trainer. Officially, she’s the bookkeeper. In reality, she’s a little bit of everything. 35 years in customer service kick in on the sales floor, and she also stocks and shuttles products between our South Hill and Kendall Yards locations. It’s a labor of love: PDPM owner Amy is Vicki’s daughter. 

Vicki’s family also includes three Border Collies: Older mid-coat Sally, flop-eared Oliver, and Henry, a puppy with heterochromia. Sally was the dog who led Vicki to take up agility training. Rescued from a dumpster at just a few weeks old, her behavioral challenges inspired Vicki to become an even better trainer. 

Vicki is an ambassador for Prairie Dog. She keeps snacks from PDPM on her at all times, so she can introduce Spokane’s canines (and their owners) to our products. And if you’ve ever snagged a chocolate from one of the humans-only bowls at our checkout counters, you have Vicki to thank — one more way she makes the Prairie Dog experience a little sweeter.

“What sets Prairie Dog apart is knowledge and personal service. It’s not just about jumping in with suggestions. It’s about listening first. It’s about really hearing what people need, and it’s about making them feel good about coming into the store.”

What Spokane Customers Are Saying

We love our customers from Spokane & surrounding areas including Glenrose, South Perry District, Sprague Union, Valleyford, Palouse, Latah Creek, Geiger Heights, Airway Heights, Spokane Valley, Cheney, Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls, Millwood, Liberty Lake, Medical Lake, and more!

Come visit our pet supply store in Spokane, WA specializing in quality raw food, treats, and supplies for cats and dogs.