Originally printed in Grosse Pointe Magazine, July-August 2016

Animal Learning Systems

“I have been practicing as an animal behaviorist for over 30 years, and while most of our clients are from southeast Michigan, we are proud to have clients in nine states and Canada,” says Lessenberry.

Animal Learning Systems on Mack Ave. in the Farms boasts many services including clinical behavior therapy practice for challenging companion animals, the very popular turn-key off-leash training programs, family-centered group dog training courses and Urban Dog Campus that promotes long term client relationships through ongoing boarded training and care. Each program represents consummate personal service.

“Beyond our services and the well mannered dogs we produce, I am particularly grateful for my talented and dedicated staff.”

About James

“I was born at St. John’s Hospital at Moross and Mack in 1995, so opening my office here in the Farms, in 2006, has brought me full circle.

As a child we lived in Detroit and later Oakland County suburbs but I have lived rurally for the past 25 years.

My partner of 18 years, Don, our son, Liam, and three dogs that range in size from 17 to 120 pounds, enjoy exploration, travel and all things outdoors, especially our annual late winter trip to Aruba.

Becoming a parent in my 50s means no retirement, no free time, no savings, no option for growing old(er), but plenty of amazing and unanticipated joy!”

What was your first job?

Paper boy, selling newspapers at the Hazel Park Race Track.

Why did you want to become an animal behaviorist?

To apply the study of behavior and neuroscience in a practical way to help families be whole and functional around their pets.

Tell us something about you that most people don’t know.

I served in the mid-1990s as Chairperson of the City of Detroit, Human Rights Commission, appointed by then Mayor Dennis Archer.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?

Flying my airplane, or working on my home and yard.

If you weren’t an animal behaviorist, what would you be?

I have always had a strong entrepreneurial spirit. I have a number of related ventures I would still like to pursue one day.

What is your next goal?

To fly more this year, now that Liam is older. He is a great copilot.

Words to live by

“To get it right, be born with luck or else make it. Never give up. A little money helps, but what really gets it right is to never … under any conditions face the facts.” –Ruth Gordon