Q&A with SHS alumni and Today Show dog trainer Olivia Poff


Poff can be seen sporatically throughout the year on the Today Show. She has been able to explain her passions on national television. When she is not on the Today Show, Poff trains dogs for AVD.

Q: What year did you graduate SHS?
A: I graduated from SHS in 2007.

Q: How did you learn you wanted to train dogs?
A: In college, I was a volunteer puppy raiser for Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind (GDF) and America’s VetDogs (AVD). The first pup I raised was named Simba. When Simba graduated from the program as a service dog for an incredible marine, I was hooked. After about a year of partnership, the marine told me that Simba not only improved her life, but that he saved it. I knew at that point that I wanted to enter the assistance dog industry after college.

Q: How did you come in contact with the Today Show?
A: TODAY approached AVD about partnering with us for their second “puppy with a purpose.” AVD asked if I would be interested in representing the organization with the TODAY show opportunity. When I agreed, I interviewed with the executive director, segment producer, and partnership manager of the TODAY show and the rest is history!

Q: What exactly does the gig entail?
A: The gig entails commuting from Smithtown on Long Island to 30 Rock Monday through Friday. I wake up at 3:30 am to be there by 6:30 a.m. Charlie, our wonderful pup, lives with me, so I am responsible for his care and training both in and out of Studio 1A. I personally do approximately one segment per week where I update America on Charlie’s progress. Charlie, on the other hand, is on the show daily, so I do the behind the scenes things to make that possible, including managing his energy levels, tailoring his training sessions, and grooming him so he looks his best while doing it!

Q: What has it been like to meet everyone on the Today Show?
A: It’s pretty incredible to meet the guest talent. My two favorites have been Dolly Parton and Patrick Dempsey. I could not ask to be around a more positive crew and team both in front and behind the cameras. Honestly though, my favorite people to meet are on the plaza who come from all walks of life, all parts of the US, and even a few international attendees. It’s great to hear how they personally relate to the work we do at America’s VetDogs. Charlie has received beautiful signs and messages and love.