He is our Lead Instructor, student mentor and advisor and school program organizer. Working tirelessly year round to ensure the success of every student who enters the International School for Dog Trainers while making sure that their experience is as rewarding as possible, Greg Vaughn has taken the feast of responsibilities delegated to him and conquered it.
Blessed with a heart of gold and a keen sense for detail, Greg makes a significant difference in the lives of our students, dedicating his life to helping them get the most out of their experience so that they can achieve their dreams post graduation.
This November, we would like to celebrate Greg by giving thanks for his work ethic and unceasing commitment to our students. We wanted to learn more about Mr. Vaughn when he is not in director mode, and as usual, his responses exceeded our expectations!
Q. If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?
A. I would have to help my parents out, buy them a house or pay off credit cards or something. They have helped me out so much throughout the years and have been so supportive of every passion I’ve had; I truly wouldn’t be where I am today without their help and support. I owe everything to them.
Q: Where are you originally from?
A. I was born in Brooklyn New York but moved to suburban Rockland County at young age. I lived there before moving to North Carolina to attend Highland Canine’s Master Trainer Program. If you told me 5 years ago, I would be in North Carolina working as an Instructor for a dog training school, I would have said you were crazy. I didn’t expect to end up here, but I am extremely happy to be where I am.
Q: When you have 30 minutes of free time, how do you pass the time?
A. I have two dogs, a 7-month-old Australian shepherd and a 2-year-old Black Lab, If I have any free time during the day it belongs to them. Whether it be squeezing in a quick training session or letting them run around and blow off some steam, I try to get them out and working as much as possible throughout the day.
Q: Which chore do you enjoy the least?
A. The chore I enjoy the least is something that is stupid, and I know I’m going to get laughed at for. I have no problem doing laundry, but I hate putting clean clothes away. I have gone out and bought individual hampers for dirty and clean clothing. Clothes come out of one hamper and into the other. I don’t know why I just can’t justify the amount of time it takes to fold and put everything away.
Q: If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet?
A. My grandfather, he passed away before I was born. He was a sailor all his life, he was literally born on a boat and his birth certificate has listed the port that the boat docked into. If anyone has interesting stories it would be him. I’d love to sit down for a conversation with him.
Q: What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?
A. I am a big outdoors person, I love hiking, backpacking, and adventuring. One of my favorite things is exploring a new area I have never been to. This can be a new trail system out in the mountains or an unfamiliar city. Living so close to Manhattan I got to do a lot of cityscape exploring, while also being able to venture out into the Hudson valley wilderness.
Q: What three traits define you?
A. Patience, sense of humor, and empathy. I have always had a talent of being good at working with people, from a young age I knew I would do something involving people.
Q: Do you have a favorite quote?
A. I could not find the author, but the quote goes “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” This resonates with me because it was something I struggled with for a long time, getting stuck and not growing as a person because I was scared to leave my comfort zone. In order to grow you must put yourself in a place of discomfort and once you get comfortable there move to a new uncomfortable place. This growth is never ending.
Q: If you had to eat one meal, every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A. I don’t know if I could pick one food. I am one of those people that finds something they love and eats so much of it that they can not stand it anymore. At the moment, my binge food is Jamaican beef patties, I think I have at least one a day. I’m sure in a few weeks I will move on to something else.
Q: What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?
A. Up until working with dogs I had never broken a bone. It was only a finger so I guess I’m still pretty lucky.
Q: Do you have a favorite genre of music?
A. When I was younger it was definitely a lot of hard rock, but as I grow greyer I’ve opened my music pool a lot. Everything from classical to indie/folk/Americana.
Q: How do you define success?
A. Success for me has always been about happiness and doing something I was proud of. I see a lot of the people I grew up with dragging their feet into work every day, and I just couldn’t justify being miserable for a paycheck. We aren’t here for a long time, if you’re not enjoying your time here or proud of what you do, why even do it?
Q: If you had to choose one theme for Highland, which would be turned into a book about the company, what would it be?
A. It’s not a book but a TV show. The staff jokes about it constantly, but we legitimately need our own Big Brother style reality TV show. We meet so many interesting people from all over the world, outsiders often don’t believe some of the stories we have.
Q: How did you first learn about Highland Canine?
A: I was a pet dog trainer back in NY and kept encounters questions that I didn’t have answers to. My clients had problems that were out of my scope of expertise and I wanted more information on how to resolve them. I began looking for a dog training school and found Highland Canine’s School for Dog Trainers and after speaking with the staff and taking a tour I knew this was where I needed to be!
Q: What is your proudest moment at Highland?
A. Just being apart of the Highland team. Everyday is rewarding and I’m extremely proud of what I do. I’m a transplant from NY and the people here have been so warm and welcoming, I would not be able to do it without their help. We are a big family of people from all over, and it’s the best job ever.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
A. Every graduation is extremely rewarding for me because I love seeing how far the students have come from their first day. It makes me happy knowing that our graduates are out in the world making a difference in the lives of their clients. I get teased for getting emotional on graduation day but I spend so much time with the students on their journey, and get to see the individual growth, it’s hard not to.