Our Pack


Tessa Sternbach

Tessa is the founder and owner of Ruff Life AVL

and has been training since 2014 as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA). Her team is here to help with any training need ranging from basic obedience and housebreaking to complex behavioral consultations related to dog or people aggression, separation anxiety, and more.

Learn what makes Ruff Life AVL different. 


Ness Nowik

Ness is our administrative staff manager. She loves working for Ruff Life because she gets to meet and talk to people about dogs all day all while having a pup or two in her lap at a time. She deeply understands the important roles dogs play in our lives, which is why it is so important to help you get your pups the training they need to live their best lives! 


Adrienne Ratti

Adrienne is a native of Michigan and came to Asheville in 2010.  She has been a part of the Ruff Life team since October of 2020.  Adrienne's favorite thing to do is hike and backpack with her dog, Sevro.  Working with dogs has become one of her passions.  Not only is it rewarding to help people and their pets but the dogs remind her to live in the moment, be patient and move on from mistakes. 

Ashley Dinges

New to the Asheville area, Ashley's training experience before Ruff Life was limited to the work she did with her own dog, Althea. Althea was a trouble child, and after years of working with her and self education Ashley knew that she wanted to help others gain the same relationship with their dog as she had created with her own. Her goal is to give owners the tools they need to create long lasting, healthy relationships and great communication skills between themselves and their furry family members. She highly recommends checking out the book Canine Body Language By Brenda Aloff to understand more about dog language.


Terra Swihart

Terra is someone that believes you can teach an old dog new tricks, but even if you can’t they love them anyway. While they don’t have a particular favorite breed, they do have a soft spot for labradors, having had a black lab for nearly 16 years. Her remaining dog is a 17 year old mutt named Snickers. As someone who has always wanted a career working with animals, Ruff Life was the Perfect choice for Terra. Their favorite part of the job is geting to take care of all the different pups that come for socialization.

Lisa Rizzo

 For as long as Rizzo can remember, she always loved working with animals. As a former veterinary technician, she only see them in a hospital setting. Since joining the Ruff Life Pack, she has been able to see and learn a whole new aspect of animal caregiving. Her fur baby is a 9 year old Catahoula Leopard Dog, Ruger.


Cruz Moreno

Cruz was born in Mexico and moved to North Carolina almost 22 years ago. He grew up in a farming town and has a reactive dog named Poquito. This is how he met Tessa over 5 years ago. Previously he was in the restaurant business for a long time but after meeting Tessa, he developed a passion for working with dogs. He loves every opportunity to learn  something new about our amazing four-legged buddies!

Jen Laird

Jen is originally from Dallas Texas and moved to Asheville a little over a year ago to settle down after traveling and full time RVing around the country. Previously she worked at the Humane Society and is very excited to now have landed at Ruff Life Dog Training. Her goal is to become a dog trainer and learn and grow as much as she can. She loves Ruff Life because we don’t discriminate against dogs here and accept them all for who they are and where they are. We work with all dogs and change lives, both dog and human.


Sarah Anderson

Sarah is from South Carolina and is furmom to Ashby.  Sarah thinks that dogs are a great way to enrich our lives which is why she enjoys spending her days hanging out with yours!  When not at Ruff Life, Sarah likes to go on hikes, hang out with friends, and work on training  Ashby.