The Life and Times of Laura Louise Dayton
by Web Editor Nick Bowen
Born in Oakland, California on November 29, 1952 to Owen and Laura F. Dayton, Laura Louise Dayton grew up an only daughter with three brothers. She grew up as a quiet little girl reading and writing and diligently studying in school, successfully graduating from San Jose State University in 1981 with a Masters Degree in Mass Communications. With a natural skill in writing it didn't take Laura long to get a job in Silicon Valley writing articles and developing brochures for Intel Corporation, the largest chip manufacturer in the world at the time. All the while Laura was associated with the health fitness arena due to her brother, Mike Dayton being in bodybuilding and achieving the Amateur Athletics Union title of Mr. America in 1976, and who later went on to become a Kung Fu Master. Following his career and being the writer she was, Laura left Intel and began writing articles about her brother and about the bodybuilding world. Many of these articles found their way into a variety of bodybuilding magazines and then eventually she produced her first book, Chi Mind Control, with her brother Mike. Her success with Mike's promotion included submitting articles to Runner's World Magazine, which led to her being wooed by publisher Bob Anderson, the owner of Runner's World, to be their managing editor. This path led to her to being a contributing editor for a variety of fitness magazines, covering sports events and photo shoots around the world. These writings led to her becoming the author of her own books and even co-authoring books for 1970’s fitness gurus Tony Little and Karen Voight of video workout fame and gold Olympic Decathlon Winner Dan O’Brian. Many of Laura's books are on line on Amazon. All told, she has written 14 books. She presently has a couple of fiction novels in the making, which she works on in her free time around her childhood dream of working with and training dogs.
Growing up, Laura always wanted a show dog like the shaggy dog in the movie. Her love of dogs pulled at her heart for many years. She eventually got her dream dog, her first American Kennel Club (AKC) Bearded Collie, Astro, who incidentally her Astro’s Agility school is named after. Astro was a show dog, but he championed as a Jr. Herder who was as stubborn as one gets at agility. She trained Astro at Star Fleet Agility in 1998 under Marge driving sometimes twice weekly from her home town of Napa, California to Elk Grove which is about 50 miles away. For two years she trained with Astro, learning every trick in the book to make him perform at an elite level. Through this process, she honed her skills to learn a path to performance that she knew would make even the most unlikely dog an agility star. She added Comet to her family and was taking both her Beardies to Championships in Herding and Show, where she gained prominence and Comet Championed in show and Laura earned the respect of her dog handling peers. With the arrival of Brix it was back in the agility ring. Laura is currently grooming her 3-year-old Nitro, hoping to take him into the ring after an outstanding show-breaking puppy debut, cut short by the pandemic, so she can see how he does against the adults in the Show Ring. There is even the possibility of taking him on a Grand Champion run if he has the right stuff. She will also be starting him in herding and agility this year as well. Brix still runs in agility, but only in the veterans category after a fun-filled 8-year career.
Prior to the pandemic and after a brief stint operating a women’s only health club franchise in Napa Laura decided to follow her dream and teach people what she had enjoyed for years, the true and pure joy of owning a dog you can work and play with. As Laura will modestly tell you, "My goal is to open the door of a dog's mind so people can enjoy their devotion, love and humor -- to experience them as playmates, best friends and heroes, as training partners and snuggle buddies and be the athletes that we always wanted to be." Laura sees her role not just to teach sit and stay, but to unleash the magic of dogs and have their owners realize that they have the most wonderful thing in the world... the faithful and unconditional love and companionship of their dog.”
Background on Astro’s Agility Dog School
Laura's Astro’s Agility Dog School is renown throughout northern California as being the premier go-to dog handling/agility school. Laura's program is not a cookie cutter program with a one size fits all agenda. Laura realizes the unique characteristics of each dog and their handlers and applies and adapts techniques that are designed for optimum performance. And she doesn't quit until she has found the right combination to make any dog excel. Agility training requires getting the full attention of the dogs and making sure that they are aware of who is in charge and what is expected of them. The agility training is not just jumping and negotiating objects, it’s performing these objects in a specific pattern through body and voice language while both dog and handler are running at speeds anywhere from 4 to 11 mph at a distance from each other of 1 to 10 feet. It takes incredible concentration and communication, and you only get one chance.
Additionally Laura offers puppy classes, special AKC Star Puppy class that leads into the AKC Canine Good Citizen class that leads to the AKC Therapy Pets certification. She also has a Sniff and Tell class where dogs can be trained to find certain objects that are personal to the owner, and also classes in general obedience. Laura is also the proud inventor of her Step & Sit K-9 Neck-Tie, which helps control dogs from jumping on people and guests.
To accomplish all of this, Laura has assembled a great team of dog handling experts assisting her with her clients and their dogs. Among her assistants are and have been: The incredible Ms. Lori Ware and her dog Amaizey, pro AKC Trickster Lori is like Laura an AKC CGC Evaluator working with STAR Pups Tricks and Therapy Dogs. Faith Norman started at the inception of Astro’s School, when she was just in high school then completed two major college level dog training degrees and now teaches under her own Faithful’s Paws business. Laura's personal assistant Apollo Bowden is the man-about-town at the school pretty much doing whatever needs to be done to keep the operation flowing smoothly and seamlessly. Indeed, Apollo even has his own miniature Beagle Nelly, aka Bullet, who is always willing to show new dogs the circuit. Laura’s first partner Shannon Fox trains dogs in Vacaville and the two friends try to meet up at shows, talented Michael McKeown works behind the scenes to keep the web site growing to meet your needs.
In sum Laura says, "I love all the dogs and love everyone here. Astros Agility is the best and it's the best part of my day. There is really only one rule when you come to here: Have fun or go home!”