Meet the Wooftopia Team


Desiree Klippenstein (Dez), Owner

I’m Desiree (Dez) Klippenstein, owner of Wooftopia Dog Training & Recreation Centre. Dogs are my life, and my objective is to create positive relationships between owner and dog. I began pursuing my passion as a profession in 2013, starting my dog training and obedience company, Animal Instincts, and becoming a certified dog trainer. Opening a centre to operate out of was a natural next step.

My objective for Wooftopia is to provide customers a trusted source for their dog care needs, including: daytime care; force-free dog training; professional grooming; and holistic, local pet products.

The Wooftopia team is experienced in dog behaviour and health care. We work on the principle that each dog has specific needs; we strive to meet those needs through individualized attention and training. Our mandate is to support you, our customers, to raise a confident, well-balanced dog – our customized care will help achieve just that.

Outside of teaching obedience and running the facility, I’m still busy with the dogs! My husband, Kevin, and I own three rescue pooches, Kali, Nanu and Harvey – we’re always teaching them new tricks and off exploring somewhere new. I’m passionate about dog rescue and animal rehabilitation; I volunteer my time as the Foster Program Manager with Manitoba Underdogs Rescue, as well, I donate my training services by working with behavioural cases. I play recreational soccer and will never miss a United game. My family and friends are near and dear to my heart; naturally they’re all dog lovers too.

I would love to meet you and your dog; come meet our team and view our facility. We’re here to support your dog care needs and demonstrate why Wooftopia is the best in the business.


  • Certified Professional Dog Trainer – CPDT-KA
  • Bachelor of Environmental Design Degree, University of Manitoba
  • Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training & Behaviour – Dog Trainer Foundations
  • Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) Member
  • Canine Collaboration Club Member
  • Behaviour Adjustment Training (BAT) Certification, in progress
  • Pet First Aid, St. John Ambulance


Sarah Schellenberg – Daycamp Manager/Trainer/Pet Sitter

Sarah Schellenberg loves animals more than most. After 12 years of begging, her parents finally let her get a family dog. As soon as she turned 18 she adopted one of her own and now has added an additional pooch as well as 1 cat to her family. Sarah worked in a vet hospital for 2 years and decided that it wasn’t the career path that she wanted to take. She is much happier working at Wooftopia and participating in fun activities for the dogs rather than helping in vet appointments. Sarah has been volunteering for Manitoba Underdogs Rescue for the last 2 years and is a strong advocate for animal rescue. On top of working in the daycamp environment, Sarah is apprenticing to become a dog trainer so that one day she can teach her own classes. If you are looking for a place where your dog will get tons of love, snuggles, and fun, bring them down to Wooftopia, Sarah will make sure they get all the snuggles they need. Sarah also frequently takes dogs home to watch them while their families are away. For more information about our pet sitting service click here.


Nikki Carruthers – Professional Groomer/Pet Sitter

Nikki has been a dog groomer for 5 years and it is clear from her work that she loves what she does. She started out as a hairstylist and when she adopted two rescue dogs from a breeding operation Nikki realized that her calling was to make dogs look and feel their best. Nikki brings a lot to the Wooftopia team including her creative styling and outside the box thinking. She not only excels in hair cuts but also in coloring dogs with a friendly vegan fur product. She even won third place at her first ever creative grooming competition at the 2015 Manitoba Pet Expo. Nikki has attended the largest pet expo in North America and went through 7 days of seminars from the top groomers in the world and also recently became certified as a Canadian Professional Pet Stylist through the Professional Pet Groomers Association of Manitoba. Nikki loves to customize each groom to the specific needs of her clients or is more than happy to determine what will look the best on your pup. If you’re looking to pamper your pooch with a spaw day make sure to set up an appointment with Nikki today!


Trista Lemieux – Daycamp Attendant/Pet Sitter

Trista began her animal journey as a cat lover but since her brother got a dog, she knew she was in trouble! She rescued her first dog at 18 years old, when her dad caved, and since then has had a unique passion for working with and helping animals. Once Trista moved out on her own she started fostering and recently “failed” with her Shepherd X pup, Grizzly. When she isn’t snuggling your pups at Wooftopia, Trista spends her time as an Interior Decorator at Rona. If you need to match the perfect collar with your pooch, Trista is definitely the one to ask!


Leesa Westwood – Trainer/Pet Sitter

Leesa Westwood is an animal lover through and through. She not only volunteers with the crew at Manitoba Underdogs, she is also an animal activist. Leesa has worked with dogs, horses, rats, spiders, rabbits, and cats in the past and now has a rescue dog, cat, and spider of her own. Dez met Leesa when she was looking to for a new furry family member. Leesa is a lover of the Mastiff breeds and Dez had been working with a family helping them train and rehome their Cane Corso for about a year. Once Leesa met Hades it was love at first sight and they have been a dynamic duo ever since. Leesa is now apprenticing under Dez at Animal Instincts Dog Training and Obedience.


Melissa Zyzniewski – Daycamp Attendant/Trainer/Pet Sitter

Melissa always knew that she wanted to pursue a career in the dog world and her dream came true at the young age of 18. She started small, working in pet stores and other daycares, and worked her way up to becoming an obedience trainer and a bather/beginner groomer. When Melissa got her pup Benson, she knew she wanted to do something different than your regular obedience training. They currently compete in disc, flyball, and dock diving while taking classes for agility. She is currently apprenticing under Dez and will soon be teaching her own classes here at Wooftopia. Melissa loves helping your dogs be all they can be at daycare and you can rest assured that they are in the best hands possible.


Ashton Fyke – Daycamp Attendant

Ashton has been a dog lover all of her life. She has always had dogs and her passion for them just grew stronger when she adopted 2 of her own from a local dog rescue. Ashton has loved training her current pups, Jax and Zira, and has done a variety of obedience and agility classes with them. When Jax became reactive Ashton knew she had to do something about it and started working with Dez to learn more about canine behavior and body language. Ashton previously worked in a pet store where she started learning about pet health and nutrition. She has worked with a number of species including dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, reptiles and more! You don’t need to worry when you hand your pooch off to Ashton when they come to daycare. She will be sure to love them like her own and maybe even teach them a few tricks too!


Michelle Thompson – Receptionist

Michelle Thompson realized her love for animals a little later in life. She adopted her first rescue dog from Manitoba Underdogs when she was 27 years old. Since then she has been passionate about helping dogs in needs, especially seniors, as Jake, Michelle’s first rescue, is 10 years young. She currently fosters for Funds for Pets and has “foster failed” with an adorable Boston Terrier/French Bulldog X named Theo. Michelle volunteers in the daycamp and is also one of our pet sitters. For more information on our pet sitting service click here. Michelle’s favorite activity is taking her dogs to Little Mountain Dog Park or hanging out on the porch in her hammock. Michelle’s “day job” is shaping young (human) minds and she applies this experience to shaping doggie minds. If you’re going away you have nothing to worry about leaving your furry family members with Michelle. She will love them like her own!


Brandi Dawson – Daycamp Attendant/Pet Sitter

Brandi has been an animal lover her whole life. So much so that she decided to focus her career on learning as much about animals as she could. Brandi graduated from Dalhousie University with a major in Animal Science. She is currently the mama to three cats and a rabbit but is still looking for that perfect pup to call her own. For now she is fostering through Manitoba Underdogs Rescue and knows her canine companion is out there waiting for her! Oh, did we mention that when Brandi isn’t hanging with the Wooftopia crew that she is a Zookeeper? She loves animals of all shapes and sizes!


Jessica Rose – Daycamp Attendant/Pet Sitter

Jessica Rose met Dez and the crew when she started fostering for Manitoba Underdogs Rescue. She took on a difficult foster and had to work closely with Dez to make her feel more comfortable around new people and in new situations. She has since “foster failed” with Zelda and brings her and her furry brother, Seymour, to daycamp when she is volunteering. Jessica grew up with her family Pit Bulls and has loved taking care of animals ever since. She is also on our pet sitting team and loves having other dogs over and will care for them no matter what they need. For more information on our pet sitting services click here. When Jessica isn’t volunteering at Wooftopia she is the Technology Director at Celebrations Dinner Theatre. If she isn’t there or here you can find her biking with Seymour in the carrier and Zelda alongside. If you are looking for a fun environment for your dogs when you go away, Jessica’s is the place to be!


Jessica Hansen – In-home Pet Sitter/Photographer

Jessica Hansen has never lived a minute without at least one dog in her family. She currently has 4 dogs of her own and is the Executive Director and founder of Manitoba Underdogs Rescue. Jessica has not only worked in dog rescue for as long as she remembers, but she is an expert in flyball competing with her late Border Collie, Jersey. Jessica is joining our team as our resident photographer; you can see some of her amazing photos on our Facebook page. She is also one of our in-home pet sitters. For more information on our in-home pet sitting service click here. Here at Wooftopia we know how much Jessica cares for all animals and we would trust her to take care of our beloved pets and homes whenever we go away, heck she already has!