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.


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.

Noah Young

Noah is part of the administrative staff. He loves working at Ruff Life because we do not discriminate against dogs or people, and we work with all dogs to get them to a better place in their training and to get them in a place where life isn't as scary. Outside of Ruff Life, he loves to travel and dabble in photography.


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.

Chris Wesselman

Chris is a transplant from Cincinnati who previously spent over 20 years creating, performing, and producing theatre. After a serendipitous meeting with Ruff Life in early 2022, this quickly turned into the foundation of an amazing new adventure in Asheville that allows him to check "work with all the doggos" off his bucket list. He's thrilled to continue learning with the best in Asheville as the new Socialization Manager at Ruff Life. "Tell your dog I said, Hi!"