Meet the Team
Mary Foster – President/Founder, Trainer
A dog lover from a tender age, Mary has always had a life with dogs. Her father, a physician and great animal lover, taught her from a very young age to respect and love animals. He always had a dog for her to love, as well as rabbits, turtles, chameleons and even baby chicks!
Her love for canines continued into adult life and there have been few times she has been without a four legged companion. Growing up in Virginia she spent a lot of time in the 70’s with the Northern Virginia Obedience Team teaching her dog Katie many levels of obedience. In 1983 she started working for Bob Maida in Manassas, Virginia, an excellent trainer who had trained dogs for movies, and learned even more skills.
When she moved to North Carolina in 1988, her close friend and veterinarian in Northern Virginia asked, “Why aren’t you doing what you love?” She did not need any more motivation and started her business training dogs/handlers during in-home visits. A few months later Mary opened her storefront in downtown Cary and PUPSI was born! Now offering daycare, grooming, boarding and training.
Trace Essex – Trainer
Trace has been with Pupsi since it opened in 1993 and learned about dog training from his mother Mary. As an assistant to Mary from a young age he learned about pet dog training and dealing with management/behavioral issues by helping with and watching group classes, house calls and one-on-ones.
After a tour in the US Navy, Trace returned home to the family business and became a full-time trainer for Pupsi. In addition to the daily running of the daycare, boarding and grooming operations, he has trained hundreds of dog/handler teams and works closely with Second Chance Pet Adoptions to help dogs with rough pasts find loving forever homes.
Trace also got the opportunity to learn from the one and only Michael Ellis at his school in California, covering puppy development, basic obedience, management, motivation, advanced obedience, e-collar training, protection theory, decoy training and ring sport/protection exercises.
Trace lives in Holly Springs with his wife, son and 2 dogs.
Debra Jeffreys – General Manager
Debra has been an indispensable part of the Pupsi team since she started in 2007. As General manager for the entire facility, she oversees everything from customer service and training new employees to the daily running of all kennel and daycare activities. With a history in the veterinary field, and a kind and compassionate disposition, Debra is a big part of what makes Pupsi successful and a favorite of all our customers, both two- and four-legged!
Debra lives in Raleigh with her 3 dogs.