My journey as both an animal lover and ethical treatment advocate has been one of lifelong passion, commitment, & growth. Even as a child I can remember cultivating my strong connection to animals by gravitating towards household pets & providing aid to stray dogs in my neighborhood. Additionally, my mother as well as many of my close family friends are a part of the blind community, & I would also be exposed to the service animal industry in my early youth as a result – growing up, my family & I went to a lot of charity events for the blind.
During the 2013 annual Vision walk I was introduced to someone who trained service dogs professionally & instantly knew that’s what I wanted my career to be. My personal road to professional dog training would not come without trial and tribulation unfortunately; I became involved in a lifestyle that was not propelling my ambitions forward & one that did involve drug use for several years – I was actually still in active addiction when I found out about APC in 2021. Applying for their dog training program did not initially feel within my reach as I did not have the proper resources; primarily a dog that was fit for their program. As everything happens for a reason, an old friend contacted me about a dog he could no longer take care of, asking if I knew of anyone who could take her. I decided to meet Harley right away & immediately fell in love; she was around 1, had zero training and had been abused in the past. She connected with me quickly and I started taking her home for weekend visits. I knew from the beginning it was going to be a long journey to gain her trust fully and help her get over her traumatic past but I was ready for it.
During my time initially meeting Harley I did apply for the APC program & was accepted, however shortly before my classes were set to begin I realized that not only was I killing myself through addiction but I also couldn’t take care of her in active addiction. It was then, in May 2022, that I decided to go to rehab because of her and stayed for 60 days.
Our training officially began the following July; I started training her on my own and gaining her trust. We started school in October 2022 with Harley and watched her turn into a happy healthy trained dog while she gave me a reason to stay sober. The transformation I saw in her was amazing and ensured me that dog training is what I am meant to do. Upon graduation from the APC program I accepted a position with Petropolis, however after gaining valuable experience through this establishment I was able to move on & accept a training position at DFOB because I know first hand how a dog can change someone’s life and give them a second chance. My dog changed my life. I can honestly say I would not be here today if it weren’t for her, she gave me strength and purpose when I had none. I connected with the mission and values of DFOB on a personal level because they rescue each dog giving them a second chance on life, like I did with Harley.