About Us

Valerie Murphy
Valerie MurphyOwner
Valerie Murphy, owner of The Canine Connection, has been involved with dogs all her life, training her first dog when she was ten years old. From that point on, she knew she wanted a life that revolved around dogs. Valerie feels incredibly blessed to be able to spend her days (and nights) surrounded by and caring for Northwest Arkansas’ top dogs! Val currently shares her home with Bernese Mountain Dogs Wager and ChaCha, and cats Shiner and Detroit.
Mariah Pagni
Mariah PagniManager
Mariah Pagni is the Manager here at The Canine Connection. Mariah hails from Mountain Home, Arkansas, and moved to Fayetteville in 2010 to attend the University of Arkansas with a focus on pre-veterinary medicine. Her dream is to someday work with wild animals. Mariah is currently engaged to be married. She and her fiancé have three canine kids, Dachshund mixes Frank and Beans, and Australian Shepherd Thunder. "Though she be but little, she be fierce” describes Mariah perfectly. While diminutive in stature, she can calm a pack of rowdy dogs just by walking in the room. The dogs love and respect Mariah. One dog even pines for her, howling whenever she leaves his presence. Mariah is a tremendous asset to The Canine Connection and is adored by staff, clients, and dogs alike.
Ed Minar
Ed MinarTrainer
Ed Minar earned his Bachelor’s, Masters, and Doctorate degrees from Harvard University. He is currently a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arkansas, where he teaches a variety of courses including an interdisciplinary course on Animal Minds. Ed began teaching people how to train their dogs after training his own dog, Poco, an Australian Shepherd who was very challenging. His Australian Shepherd Bess achieved titles in the highest levels of obedience, agility, and rally. He is currently training Copper, Josie, and Loki to follow in Bess’ footsteps. He has been the Training Director at the Canine Connection since the business opened.
Diana Nagel
Diana NagelTrainer
Ed’s wife Diana Nagel is also a college professor and dog trainer. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Stanford University, a Masters of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Lesley University and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from University of Maryland. She is an Professor of Psychology at Northwest Arkansas Community College, where she teaches the research foundations of the methods used in dog training. She teaches several classes at the Canine Connection. As co-Training Director, she consults with Ed on all the training curriculum and teaching methods.



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