Founder/Chief Human Officer
Hydrant Club’s Chief Canine Officer Cathy Brooks eschews the label of “dog whisperer” people seem to like to apply to her work.
She prefers to call herself a “canine conversationalist” whose focus is teaching people how to communicate with their dogs in a language the dog already understands. She does this through leading seminars and classes on “canine linguistics” as well as one-on-one and group classes teaching everything from behavioral modification to basic and advanced obedience.
Her career communicating with dogs began early. When asked when it started, Cathy smiles and replies that she was raised by wolves … kind of.
As an infant, Cathy would pull herself up to her elbows in her crib. The family dog, Pepper, would stand outside the crib and the two would lock eyes and stare. This continued until Cathy would fall over. Pepper would wait, patiently, until she pulled herself back up, and the eye gaze would go on. This exchange would persist until Cathy tired herself out and fell to sleep, at which point Pepper would curl up under the crib and nap until Cathy stirred and the silent conversation would begin again.
Her innate communication skills evolved into prowess for print and speaking, and so Cathy’s love of dogs took a back seat. Starting in high school ripping wire copy at an all news radio station, Cathy found a passion for media. Accepted to Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Cathy pursued a career first as a Journalist and then into public relations in the technology industry. For 20 years Cathy worked with some of the most influential people, companies and events driving the evolution and explosive growth of Silicon Valley.
Throughout her life dogs were never far away – whether studying various philosophies of behavior and training techniques, heading to a dog park to watch pups play to decompress after work or working with her own dog and engaging formally in the study of canine behavior and obedience.
In 2000, a horrifying story unfolded in San Francisco – a fatal dog attack, blocks from Cathy’s home. Cathy had had run-ins with the owners of these vicious dogs. When she heard the San Francisco District Attorney was having a hard time finding people who would testify as to the dog’s ferocity, she could not stand by. Stepping forward, Cathy became a material witness for the prosecution.
This experience catalyzed Cathy’s return to her true purpose and passion – educating people about canine behavior as a foundation for safe urban living, for their (and their dogs’) safety. She deepened her study of dog behavior and training and began working part time training dogs … well … training their owners, really.
Building a small dog training and behavioral practice, Cathy continued working in the tech industry until May 2012, when a chance conversation with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh resulted in Cathy traveling to Las Vegas for an introduction to The Downtown Project. While there, a series of events led to Cathy’s realizing an opportunity for creating the kind of canine facility that she’d always imagined.
Six months later, Cathy closed her tech consulting practice and moved.
Now Cathy owns and operates the Hydrant Club, a canine social club and training academy catering to the needs of an urban dog community. Equal parts off leash play space, educational facility and boarding/daycare, Hydrant Club is embarking on a mission to evolve the nature of dog care facilities, turning them into places where people go WITH their dogs for social activity, exercise and learning.
Though Cathy still carries several mobile devices at all times and admits to a mild addiction to social media, her life is blissfully analog and canine-focused.