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Our Staff – Detroit

Liz Blondy

Founder and Owner
Liz Blondy Canine to Five

Liz is a long-time Detroiter who, after a decade in sales, decided to combine her love of animals and her hometown passion into a career. In 2005, she opened Canine to Five Detroit Dog Daycare in Midtown and in 2013, Canine to Five Ferndale. Both facilities offer daycare, boarding and grooming and the business also facilitates trainings and hosts events like pack walks and dog-friendly happy hours. Averaging upwards of 250 dogs per day between the two locations, she is next poised to expand her original facility in 2017. Canine to Five is now recognized as a Detroit small business success story, and Liz has emerged as a staunch and prominent advocate for Detroit’s resurgence. Firmly convinced that small businesses are the key to true revival, she co-founded Open City Detroit, a networking group designed to encourage entrepreneurship, and participates in many initiatives to foster a strong grassroots business community. Liz resides in a renovated Eastern Market storefront with her partner Pat Deegan and her Great Pyrenees Argon. The couple recently purchased a vacant church in the North End neighborhood that will become their next home.

Cecelia Perry

Facility Manager

Joined Canine to Five Team in 2014

Pets: 2 Dachshunds named Simon & Garfunkel, a mystery mutt named Lurch, and two cats, Julius & Angelo

Cecelia joined Canine to Five because she was ready for a change, and her brother, Cullen, already worked for us. Cullen had brought Cecelia with him for some of his overnight stays with the dogs and she loved it! She was also attending Wayne State at the time so it seemed like the perfect fit.

Before Canine to Five, Cecelia was an assistant manager at Qdoba and was going to school at Wayne State for music. She currently resides in the Dearborn area with her roommate Alexis, their three cats Angelo, Julius and Cheeto, and three pups Simon, Garfunkel and Lurch. Five of the 6 fur babies are hers! 🙂 In her free time, Cecelia loves to visit with family, go to concerts, hang out with friends, or just snuggle up with all the pups. She’s always up for a good adventure!

Cecelia has so many favorite dogs at Canine To Five- Sunnie, Blainey, Chicken and Huck (just to name a few) and so many amazing relationships with everyone that works here. It’s hard to pick one favorite thing about this place, she loves her job! “If you have to work, you better be pursuing something you love and I have definitely found it.”

Jesse Miller

Employee Development Manager

Joined Canine to Five team in 2015

Pets: A pitbull named Aaliyah

Jesse is fascinated by and enamored with dogs! Even outside of work she spends a lot of her time learning about canine behavior and psychology, as well as working (and playing!) with her own dog. Though she is an equal opportunity dog-lover, she can’t deny that she has a very special weakness for one particular group: our canine ‘senior citizens’. Other than dogs her favorite things are cooking and watching The X-Files. Jesse lives in Detroit.

Aubrey Gourd

Reservation Specialist

Joined Canine to Five Team in 2015

Pets: A German Shorthaired Pointer named Phil

Before Canine To Five, Aubrey went to school for Biology and worked in sales. She currently resides in Dearborn with her boyfriend, Jeff, and her dog. She says she has way too many hobbies like gardening, canoeing, practicing the violin, reading, traveling and more. When we asked her about why she likes to work at Canine To Five, she said, “Who wouldn’t love working with dogs all day?”

Kaylin Gaston

Reservation Specialist

Joined Canine to Five Team in 2016

Pets: A sweet, perfect German Shepherd mix named Lionel, and a cat named Landon

Kaylin comes to us with an extensive background in animals and a love for happy dogs and cats! She currently works with and fosters for a local rescue, and has fostered and adopted out 8 dogs this year alone. Well, 9 if you count Lionel (foster fail, oops!). Kaylin’s hobbies include bubble tea with a side of Candyland, overthinking, and helicopter parenting her own dog. She currently resides in Ferndale with her boyfriend, Jeremy. When asked what she loves so much about this place, she said “All of my awesome coworkers. We have such a great team! (Being around dogs all day is pretty great too, though).”


Paige Gutholm

Customer Service Rep / Front Desk Supervisor

Joined Canine to Five Team in 2015

Pets: Two dogs named Leyland and Pooba

Before joining us at Canine To Five, Paige volunteered at the Animal Welfare Society in Madison Heights and worked at the desk at a tanning salon. When she isn’t working she likes to spend time taking her dogs on adventures and painting. When we asked her why she wanted to work at Canine To Five Paige said, “I’ve always known I wanted to work with dogs!”

Melissa Smolinski

Customer Service Representative

Joined Canine to Five team in 2011

Pets: A dog named Maybel and 2 cats, Sam & Owen

Melissa joined Canine to Five because she was looking for something new and challenging, and thought working with dogs seemed like a great fit! Before working at Canine to Five, she managed a hair salon. Melissa lives in Southfield with her pup, Maybel, her two kitties, Sam & Owen, and her mom. During her free time she studies a LOT, but when she’s not studying, Melissa enjoys concerts, roller derby, new restaurants, movies, and hiking with her dog. Her favorite thing about Canine to Five is the dogs, of course! The people (staff AND customers) are a close second 🙂

Samantha Hillmer

Customer Service Representative
Social Media Coordinator

Joined Canine to Five team in 2017

Pets: A Boxer mix named Charlie

If you look up “Dog Lover” in the dictionary, Sam’s picture will show up! With over 10 years experience working with animals, she’s gained knowledge working everywhere from grooming salons to vet clinics. She’s worked with border patrol K9’s, horses, and newborn puppies! Sam even runs her own website about – you guessed it – dogs! She’s even received her Dog Obedience Training certificate from Penn Foster. When she’s not at work, Sam loves taking pictures with her DSLR of dogs and her two adorable daughters, Hailey and Hannah. Her favorite thing about working at Canine to Five is “getting to meet new people and dogs everyday!” She currently resides in Allen Park with her husband, Matt, and their two daughters.

Noelle Willis

Customer Service Representative

Joined Canine to Five team in 2017

Pets: A Dachshund named Tucker

Noelle joined Canine to Five because it was different, exciting, and couldn’t resist working around such adorable pups! She also works at Painting with a Twist Downtown teaching people how to paint awesome pieces of art. Noelle lives with her family while her and her boyfriend decide on a place to move to in their hometown, Detroit. In her free time, Noelle drinks lots of coffee, paints and draws, goes to the Detroit Institute of Arts, and spends lots of time with her friends, family, boyfriend, and Dachshund, Tucker. Her favorite thing about Canine To Five is how welcoming we have been to her and how important she feels! She also loves how we all work together and work hard to make sure all the pups have an amazing time during daycare.

Taylor Thorn

Customer Service Representative

Joined Canine to Five team in 2017

Pets: A Min Pin/Pug mix named Daisy

Taylor joined Canine to Five simply because dogs are the best, and people who have dogs are a close runner up. She loves being a resource for dog lovers, and helping them enjoy life with our furry friends. Before CTF, she worked full-time at a social enterprise in Detroit that makes jewelry from recycled graffiti and employs women transitioning out of homelessness. It’s called Rebel Nell, and it’s powered by women’s empowerment! Taylor also graduated from UofM earlier this year. She currently resides with her BEST FRIENDS in Ferndale. They’ve known each other since the 6th grade and are still going strong.During her free time, Taylor loves practicing yoga and would love to teach someday, she likes hanging out with her friends, knitting, watching The Office, being outside, and spending time with her family. Her favorite thing about Canine to Five? The attitude. It’s super easy to be happy when you get to work with dogs all day, and the people here make it even better. It’s such an awesome energy, and you can tell that the staff really cares about their work and each other!

Cullen Perry

Playroom Supervisor
Cullen Perry Canine to Five
Joined Canine to Five Team in 2012

Pets: Dogs, Birdie & Beowulf, and Cats, Bosco & Beatrice

Cullen loves working with dogs, learning their different personalities, getting to know their unique play styles, and what motivates them. Cullen had been working with animals for two years prior to joining us at Canine to Five. When he’s not outside playing in our pools with your dog, Cullen enjoys hanging out with his friends, listening to music and being outdoors.

Nicole Somoski

Pack Leader
Nicole Somoski Canine to Five

Joined Canine to Five team in 2008

Pets: Azul, a Great Dane, Ruin, a Neapolitan Mastiff and Lyric, a Chihuahua

Nicole works at Canine to Five for a very simple reason: she loves dogs and all their different personalities. When she was just 10 years old, she began volunteering for a variety of animal-focused organizations, from Companion Pet Rescue to H-CAT (Hamtramck Cat Assistance Team). Her mom used to manage the Royal Oak Animal Shelter, where Nicole gained tons of experience. Nicole lives in Detroit. She loves to go on road trips, get tattoos, play video games, work on her reptile collection and shop — when she is not playing with your dog!

Alex Eggersten

Pack Leader
Alex Eggertsen Doggie Daycare

Joined Canine to Five Team in 2013

Pets: Mack, a Catahoula Leopard Dog

Alex loves working at Canine to Five because nothing beats working in the pack. Alex finds working with dogs to be a greatly rewarding experience. She lives in Ferndale and is studying sociology at Wayne State University. Alex has been a dog owner her whole life. When she isn’t working Alex can be found out hunting for great new books to read, playing with her dog, riding her bike, practicing yoga or binge watching Netflix.

Jessica Merkle

Pack Leader
Jessica Merkle K925

Joined Canine to Five Team in 2014

Pets: A Pitbull named Samantha

After learning about Canine to Five from her neighbor and CTF founder, Liz, Jess knew she wanted to join the pack because “I’ve always loved dogs and have always wanted to work with them.” Jessica currently resides in New Center with her dog and two roommates.

Nick Whatley

Pack Leader
Nick Canine to Five Team

Joined Canine to Five Team in 2015

Pets: A Pug named Pudgy

Before Canine to Five, Nick worked at a salon as a hairdresser and manager. His hobbies include working out, playing pool and hanging out around town. Nick currently lives in Grosse Pointe Park with his dog. Nick chose Canine to Five because he loves dogs and being active, he gets plenty of active time here keeping up with our pack!

Matt Somoski

Pack Leader
Matt Somoski Canine to Five

Joined Canine to Five team in 2016

Pets: A Basset Hound/Bulldog mix named Lloyd

We welcomed Matt to our Detroit team in May of this year. He’s a great guy, and lives with an adorable dog named Lloyd and his roommate, Dave. Matt is an avid thrifter, shoe collector, and hockey enthusiast. Matt’s favorite thing about working at Canine to Five is bonding with all the amazing dogs we have in our pack!

Denis Rochac

Pack Leader
Denis Rochac Canine to Five

Joined Canine to Five team in 2016

Pets: Two dogs named High Top and Punkin, and a cat named Kimchi

Denis lives with his girlfriend, two dogs, and a cat. Aside from working with us at Canine to Five, Denis is also a teacher! He enjoys making music in his free time. His favorite part of the job is working with the humans AND dogs.


Logan Rutkowski

Pack leader
Logan Rutkowski

Joined Canine to Five Team in 2013

Pets: Four dogs named Fanny, Kilgore, Luke and Gaia, as well as a cat named Azreal

Prior to joining Canine to Five Logan worked as a direct care worker in homes while studying film at CMU. A natural pet lover, he grew up in New Haven helping his parents with their pack of rescue dogs: a chihuahua, red heeler mix and a cane corso. He lives in Sterling Heights with his girlfriend. Logan has many talents and interests including writing films and building furniture from reclaimed items. In the future, Logan would like to work with therapy dogs and the people who need them.

Ashley Layton

Pack leader

Joined Canine to Five Team in 2017

Ashley came to us with a great attitude and 7 years of customer service experience! She loves working with us because “I get to meet amazing dogs, build relationships with them as well as the staff. The opportunity that CTF provides is a way for you to learn, grow, and be the best person you want to be with training to make sure we’re legit and able to manage and be responsible for all our furry adorable friends!” Outside of work, Ashley enjoys writing poems and music, and styling hair. She’s a registered Medical Administrative Assistant, and an amazing mother to her 4 year old daughter, Samiyah.

Peter Acomb

Pack leader

Joined Canine to Five Team in 2017

Pets: A German Shepherd

This cool guy came to join us with a passion for learning more about dogs, saying, “I love learning the different personalities of each breed and individual dog.” In his spare time, Peter enjoys gardening, working on his house, and cooking. He also works at the Detroit Institute of Arts!

Mica Randolph

Pack leader

Joined Canine to Five Team in 2017

Pets: A Yorkie mix named Robbie

A proud Detroit resident, Mica formerly worked for Petco. She loves spending time with her friends, hanging out in Midtown, and also enjoys writing and photography on her down time. She’s also crazy obsessed with Reese Cups, so it doesn’t hurt to drop off a few at our New Center location for her! What does she love so much about working at CTF? “The people.” She loves that everyone here is so open and understanding, and that we know she has a life outside of work and these amazing dogs!

Ellen Schmidt

Pack Leader

Joined Canine to Five team in 2017

Pets: A Ridgeback mix named Wisco and 2 cats, Boo & Grey

Before Canine to Five, Elly was an HR manager and nannied for a family. She has always loved dogs and wanted to work with them, so this is by far her favorite job! In her free time, Elly and her husband love to go on hikes, binge on Netflix, and hang out with family and friends.

Kyle Dunn

Pack Leader

Joined Canine to Five team in 2017

Pets: A Bullmastiff/Pit Bull mix named Conan

Kyle joined Canine to Five with a desire to work with dogs and support a local Detroit business. Before CTF, he spent his time in Graduate school obtaining a masters degree in anthropology. He has plans to pursue his doctorate in the near future! In his free time, Kyle likes to read, travel, workout, play with his dog, and spend time with his amazing wife. His favorite thing about Canine to five is building positive relationships with the dogs and keeping them safe and happy while experiencing the different breeds and personalities that go with all them.

Megg Ellis

Pack Leader

Joined Canine to Five team in 2017

Pets: None yet, but soon!

Megg joined Canine to Five’s team because she has always loved dogs and was ready to look for more meaningful employment than the average retail or food service job. Before she started working with us, she was a full-time student at Wayne State in the music program. She’s almost finished with her Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance! Megg lives in Woodbridge with four roommates and a goofy cat named James. In her free time, she likes to explore Detroit and the surrounding areas, go to museums and street fairs, read, knit, and watch TV/movies. She doesn’t have any pets of her own, but she hopes to adopt a retired racing greyhound in the next couple of months or years! Megg’s favorite thing about Canine to Five is getting to be part of such a positive and cooperative team while building relationships with all of the wonderful dogs that come through our doors.

Stephanie Booth

Grooming Supervisor

Joined Canine to Five Team in 2011

Pets: A Catahoula Leopard dog named Peanut

Prior to joining us at Canine to Five, Steph had already been working with dogs for over four years. She’s loved dogs ever since she was a little girl, so it won’t surprise you to hear that her favorite thing about this job is getting to work with every different breed, size and personality of dog. Steph is always interested in doing volunteer work, especially helping to find foster homes for animals (even if it’s her own home!). Steph got married in October 2014 and she lives in Garden City with her husband and dog.

Lauren Blanchard

Lauren Canine to Five

Joined Canine to Five Team in 2015

Pets: A cute fat cat named Foxy and an Australian Shepherd, aptly named Aussie

Before starting at Canine to Five, Lauren groomed dogs for over 4 years in Macomb County. In her free time she likes to go camping, read books, and get drinks with friends. She currently lives in Warren. Lauren says she chose to work at Canine to Five because of the constant activity, and upbeat positive attitude of everyone that works here. She loves that everyone seems to truly love their job as much as she does!

Lisa Barnett

Lisa Barnett Canine to Five

Joined Canine to Five Team in 2014

Pets: A Boxer-Pitt named Peanutbutter

Equipped with over 2 years of grooming experience prior to joining the Canine to Five Team, Lisa brings a lot to our grooming table. Lisa lives near our past Ferndale location and when we asked her why she chose to join our team she said, “When I saw people taking their dogs in both the pets and the owners seemed excited. I got the impression that people genuinely felt good about bringing their business to Canine to Five. ” Lisa lives with her boyfriend and dog, Peanutbutter. In her free time she likes to craft, roller blade and read. She can also often be found at local venues listening to bands play.

Amanda Stanon

Amanda Stanon Canine to Five

Joined Canine to Five team in 2016

Pets: Three dogs, Lucie, Riley, and Stella

Before coming to Canine to Five, Amanda was a dog groomer for another facility. Although she claims to have no hobbies, Amanda loves working with animals, dogs in particular! Amanda’s favorite part of the job is working with the dogs!

Steven Brzozowski


Joined Canine to Five team in 2017

Pets: A Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Rudy, a Toy Poodle mix named Pixel, and a Ambilobe Panther Chameleon named Falcor

A former dog trainer, goomer, and nutrition specialist for Petco, Steven came to us with a ton of experience working with animals. He enjoys video games, tabletop games, and outings with his adorable dogs. He’s a huge fan of Magic the Gathering and other geeky tabletop games. He also enjoys collecting T-shirts and geeky collectables. He’s also proud papa to a colony of cockroaches that he breeds to feed his chameleon. When asked why he loves this crazy place so much, Steven said, “I love that every day is a new adventure whether it is coloring a dog fun colors, giving them a fancy haircut, or just making them comfortable with a practical haircut. Every day is different and exciting.” This awesome guy currently resides in Hazel Park with a roommate and his pack.