At my wedding my mother proclaimed to our guests, “Tammie was the most difficult child to raise, but she has turned out to be the most interesting person.” Thanks, Mom.I write about my life because it’s interesting, even my mother thought so.I grew up in a perfectly dysfunctional family. At seventeen I lived in South Africa for a year as a foreign exchange student. It was during the depths of Apartheid. I lived with an Afrikaans family and attended Afrikaans school. I still consider it the most influential year of my life.I earned a degree in Biology at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. During that time, I spent a semester in Costa Rica where I researched Emerald Toucanets in the cloud forest of Monte Verde.I was employed consistently in my field for twenty years including working with academic PhD’s who were investigating hearing in goldfishes. I worked in a clinical setting with last-chance oncology patients, and spent thirteen years in Corporate America in a Fortune 200 company. There, I entered as a research assistant in Tropical Disease Diagnostics, and then developed in vitroallergy tests and thyroid monitoring products before eventually participating in the resolution of a ten million dollar consent decree that the FDA filed against my Division.In my twenties I lived in a not-so-good neighborhood in Chicago as a single woman who rode a bike to work. I played racquet ball with the boys because I was pretty good. I acquired a puppy that destroyed my studio apartment. That resulted in my introduction to obedience training with a local club. I was a natural and became successful with my own dogs and helping others. My third dog, a Border Collie, changed my life dramatically. He is the reason that I purchased a flock of sheep before I had a farm on which to keep them. Shamaron was one of those rare individuals that forever altered the trajectory of my existence. In my thirties I lived alone in a 100 year old farm house in southern Wisconsin with my dogs, a couple of cats, a flock of sheep, ducks and chickens. I traveled to my job in Corporate America with flecks of hay on my jacket in a vehicle that stood out (not in a good way) against all the fancy cars in the parking lot. I trained my dogs, took on herding students and taught classes in a barn I converted to a training building. I hosted herding events and tending to my ewes, often standing in the barn unaccompanied for hours on a cold winter evening waiting for a lamb to arrive.After I met my husband on the internet when it was not only considered unacceptable but dangerous to do so, I gave him a dog to train. When he beat me at his first trial, he was hooked. During my forties, Robert was dedicated to helping me achieve my dream of leaving the stress and hustle of my corporate job in order to turn what was a hobby into a profession. We purchased a fifty acre farm in central Illinois and began building a dog training business. Along the way, we launched a second company from which we train service dogs for disabled individuals. In my fifties I continue to develop my writing craft. Since 2002 we have owned and operated DarnFar Ranch – Professional Dog Training. In 2011 we launched Committed Canine. During that time, I wrote four books. Much of my writing is based on my experiences with dogs and their people. I also like to explore spirituality in writing as a means of better understanding myself. I rarely feel the need to embellish as I find the truth far more interesting than exaggeration. In 2017 I made a transition to full-time author (part-time dog trainer) in order to further share the chronicles of my life. I consider my writing to be authentic, uncomplicated, and inspiring narratives on being alive in the beautiful, complex and peculiar world that we all share.
Tammie (left) and Diane, her host sister in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1978
Shamaron, Tammie’s first Border Collie in Crystal Lake, Illinois (circa 1989)
Tammie with Laddie, her second Border Collie in Crystal Lake, Illinois (circa 1992)
Tammie at the farm in central Illinois with a litter of Border Collie puppies (circa 2004)
Tammie with Pete, one of her successful trial and ranch dogs.