Training at Both Ends of the Leash

To say we train dogs would be only part of the story. We train people to train dogs, which is an entirely different challenge. It requires our trainers to have the ability to work not only with people, but veterans with hidden injuries. These injuries typically affect communication skills, short-term memory, the ability to easily complete multi-step tasks, and reaction time.

Our team is required to complete tailored trainings that address how to successfully work with program participants, including PsychArmor, Trauma Informed Care, and QPR Suicide Prevention. While we strive to provide a consistent experience for all our participants across the state, we also recognize that each person has their own learning style, personality, and challenges from their disabilities. Our trainers become coaches, mentors, and innovators as they look for new ways to help a team learn the skills and tasks they need to be successful. But most importantly, they must be committed to our clients and the mission of Dog Tag Buddies. Our trainers are at the heart and soul of our organization, and they go above and beyond each day to help this organization continue to move forward. We couldn’t ask for a better team to do this job!

DeeDe Baker, CPDT-KA

Founder, Executive Director

Through her tenacity and passion, DeeDe has grown Dog Tag Buddies from a kitchen table conversation to the organization it is today. She is the wife of a combat veteran with 21 years of service and founded Dog Tag Buddies after seeing the relief their own dogs brought her husband when he returned from Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005. Her love of dogs and desire to help Montana veterans drives her passion for Dog Tag Buddies and has become her true calling in life.

In 2018, after three years splitting her time between Dog Tag Buddies and her career of over twenty-one years with the State of Montana, DeeDe now fully dedicates her time to the organization. She spent the bulk of her career at the Montana Department of Labor as an unemployment investigator and adjudicator, eventually retiring as a business and security analyst. She takes a hands-on approach to driving the growth of the organization and works directly with program participants, trainers, staff, volunteers, and our Board of Directors to achieve her goals. For her, being able to assist veterans and rescue dogs brings together the best of both worlds, especially knowing she is giving two lives a second chance.


  • Certified Trauma Informed Care Trainer
  • Certified Question Persuade Refer (QPR) Suicide Prevention Instructor
  • Certified Council for Professional Dog Trainers – Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed
  • American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Evaluator
  • American Kennel Club Level 1 AKC Fit Dog Instructor
  • International Association of Canine Professionals – Professional Member
  • International Association of Canine Professionals – Dog Trainer Foundation certified
  • Completed This Able Veteran PTSD Essentials Service Dog Trainer Academy 6/2019
  • Completed This Able Veteran PTSD Service Dog Trainers Academy 10/2019
  • Canine CPR Certified
  • Human CPR Certified

Kati Grove

Operations Director

Kati Grove has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and over 9 years experience in Banking Operations, including 3 years of Operations Management and 3 years of Project Management experience. She is also trained in Lean Six Sigma methodology and is a graduate of the SWGSB Bank Operations Institute.

Kati is the daughter of DeeDe Baker, our founder and executive director, and shares the same passion for helping our veterans and rescuing dogs. She has been involved in supporting animal rescues for several years, and has 3 rescue dogs and a cat of her own.

Kati was selected as one of the 2019 40 Under 40 award recipients by the Billings Gazette and brings a unique business and project management perspective to the operations of Dog Tag Buddies.

Bonnie Lusby

Lead Trainer

Bonnie Lusby served as a member in the 82nd Airborne from 1979 to 1983. Since her time in the military, Bonnie has dedicated her time to working with dogs, from grooming to working in a veterinary clinic and training to showing in obedience, where her dog earned Dog of the Year.

In the past ten years, Bonnie has expanded her reach in terms of training experience. In 2005, she became a trainer for and handler of narcotic K9s. She was certified with NPWDA and still has her DEA license. She’s conducted trainings specialized in obedience, nose work, shed hunts and behavioral issues.

Bonnie began running the Prison Paws program and built it up to 35 trainers. She is also a certified AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator. Bonnie works with some of Rimrock Humane Society, Circle Two Rescue and Tomcat Rescue’s animals with behavioral issues.


  • Certified with the North American Police Work Dog Association
  • American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen evaluator
  • American Kennel Club Temperament Judge
  • International Association of Canine Professionals – Professional Member
  • Trainer for the Trainer, Thinking for a Change
  • Trainer for the Trainer, Women’s Needs and Risk
  • Attended seminars in clicker training, positive-only training, behavioral adjustment training and the healing powers of stones/crystals for dogs
  • Completed This Able Veteran PTSD Essentials Service Dog Trainer Academy 6/2019
  • Completed This Able Veteran PTSD Service Dog Trainers Academy 10/2019
  • Completed Penn Foster Dog Trainer Certification program
  • Canine CPR Certified

Chelsey Darrow

Missoula Trainer

Chelsey was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California (but we won’t hold that against her) but calls Montana home. She graduated from Montana State University and was commissioned as an intelligence officer in the United States Army in 2009. Chelsey deployed to Afghanistan in 2011-2012. While she initially intended to make the military a career, she was completely changed by her experiences in Afghanistan. Chelsey subsequently made the tough decision to leave the Army.

Once a civilian she began working with Canine Companions for Independence in Santa Rosa, CA. She went through their apprentice dog training program and became a certified service dog instructor through Assistance Dogs International in 2017. Chelsey has spent the last five years training service dogs for veterans and helped get Canine Companions’ PTSD service dog program up and running. She also serves as the Veteran Programs Specialist and supports veterans’ programs across the country.

In her free time Chelsey enjoys mountaineering, backpacking, and climbing. Chelsey and her husband hiked the Continental Divide Trail this past summer and they spent as much time as humanly possible in the backcountry. Chelsey is also a volunteer Peer Support Specialist for Wounded Warrior Project in Missoula. She is very excited to be working with Dog Tag Buddies and helping her fellow Montana veterans.

Kailey Passon

Hi-Line and North Central Montana Trainer

Kailey Passon is part of a 5th-generation ranching family on the Highline. She is also the owner and head trainer of Hi-Line Canine, LLC. She has been professionally training dogs for 3 years now and says she couldn’t ask for a better job! She joined the Dog Tag Buddies team in 2021. She has worked with dogs of all ages, shapes, and sizes, doing basic and advanced obedience, therapy and service dog work, boarding and training, and a lot of puppy training. She is also k9 CPR first aid certified. She hopes to expand her business further and train more working stock dogs for ranchers.

Kailey is a 2020 graduate of Carroll College with a BS in Anthrozoology and a minor in Sociology.

Alongside dog training, she is also working with her husband to take over my family’s cattle and sheep ranch. They currently have 15 head of cattle of their own and hope to expand that a little more each year! Kailey’s favorite things to do outside of work are riding her horse Abe, traveling with her husband, and spending time with family and friends.