Meet the Team

Meet the Team

Makayla Thompson

Owner | Instructor

Some people just have a natural connection with dogs, and Makayla is one of them!

As a child, she grew up watching her family train German Shepherd guide dogs and later began volunteering at local shelters. After spending five years in the Air Force, she decided to pursue her passion for dogs at The Dog Stop in Gulf Breeze, where she managed the large dog room as a canine companion coordinator. Her experience there working with a wide range of dog breeds and temperaments made Makayla realize she wanted to do more professionally in the field of canine training. She joined East Bay Dog Spot in early 2021 where her keen eye and ability to communicate well with clients and students quickly made her a favorite. Within six months, Makayla was promoted to East Bay Dog Spot’s professional manager, overseeing daily responsibilities for the training center and teaching a full-time schedule of classes.

When she’s not teaching other people’s dogs, Makayla can be found studying for her Bachelors degree, spending time with Cash, her young rescue dog – she loves to take him hiking, paddle boarding and kayaking - and working with her clients at Fit 24-Hour Gym where she is a personal trainer. In everything she does, Makayla is passionate about helping people live the lives they want, whether it’s achieving a well-mannered dog or reaching their fitness goals.

Kip meet our team

Kip Kirby

Founder | Instructor

Ask Kip what she enjoys most about being a dog trainer, and she’ll tell you, “I love working with dogs – and seeing people achieve the dog they’ve always dreamed of!” Since starting her dog training career in 1996 in Nashville, TN, Kip has taught thousands of dogs using positive motivational training techniques. She is professionally certified in the fields of dog obedience and agility and competed nationally in agility for over 15 years.

After a successful career in the country music industry (Kip served as Nashville Bureau Chief for Billboard Magazine, was a celebrity on-air reporter for the nationally recognized Crook and Chase TV show and managed a talent department of a home shopping network), Kip began applying her skills to the world of dog training. In 2010, she accepted a position as a lead trainer in Nashville for PetSmart where she stayed until starting her own full-time training business.

In 2016, Kip moved to Gulf Breeze and set up shop on East Bay Boulevard. Business quickly outgrew the space and she moved into a larger space where she could run group classes and private training sessions. Today, East Bay Dog Spot draws clients and students not only from Navarre and Gulf Breeze but also Pensacola, Milton, and Fort Walton Beach.

Kip has written for national dog training magazines such as Dog Fancy, Clean Run and Animal Fair, produced a distance-handling dog agility DVD called Dial Up the Distance, and was honored with a Gold Medal in 2005 from the prestigious Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) for her feature article, “Agility Dogs on the Road.” Currently she owns two Shelties (Palafox and Navarre) and a young Border Collie (Cordova Mall).

Christie web site

Christie Mendoza


Christie, East Bay Dog Spot’s newest instructor, has always loved training and caring for dogs.  Pet sitting, pet walking, pet training – she’s done it all, and she brings an impressive list of instructor credentials to our staff. Christie is a certified AKC Evaluator and has taught a variety of classes, including AKC Puppy Star, Pet Manners, Canine Good Citizen (CGC), Rally and Agility Foundation.  She is also a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) and is currently working towards her CPDT-KA certification.

Christie’s special passion is helping fear-reactive puppies and dogs.  She knows firsthand how upsetting a reactive dog can be: she owns a  mini-Schnauzer that has struggled with fear-based issues since puppyhood.  “Fenway has taught me that training takes time and it isn’t a linear experience,” she says, “but when you build that handler/dog bond through positive reinforcement, it’s a very rewarding experience.” 

Before relocating to the Pensacola area in 2021, Christie was an instructor for a popular training facility in Naples Florida where she worked with dogs of all ages and breeds.   She currently lives with three mini-Schnauzers and a Goldendoodle and competes in agility and rally with two of her dogs (the other two rescues prefer just “being lazy on the couch”).  Staying active physically is important to Christie. She’s done numerous half-marathons and 6 full marathons, loves crossfit, and when she’s not working or training dogs, she loves being at the beach and paddleboarding.