My passion for dogs probably began the same way as most by being born into a family of dog lovers. I cannot retrieve memories of my grandparents, Ruth and Fred Unger, without an image of their shepherd, Keller, their boxer, Queenie, or their mutt, Nicole, alongside them.
My childhood pet was a shepherd named Zackson. He was not only my childhood pet but, at times, my friend and protector as my father traveled for business many days out of the week.
I remember thinking of myself as a dog trainer way back at the age of 11 when my mother and I would teach Zackson the obedience routines she learned at a basic obedience class. I can't say the training worked, but it sure was fun!
Whether it was the passing of Zackson, my dislike for bookwork at school, the addition of 2 new shepherds named Hans and JoJo to our family, or a combination of all three, something happened when I was 15. I knew that being around dogs, training dogs, and stopping cruelty toward dogs was what I needed to do. I got hired at the Washington County SPCA in Hagerstown, MD. I cleaned kennels, washed dishes, and met my wife. I moved up quickly and became an animal control officer for two years. I learned various tools, skills, and techniques geared toward developing better relationships between people and their canine pets. After struggling with the euthanasia of the animals, I left the SPCA and took a job in sales like my father. But in the summer of 2003, I believe God sent me a sign that led me back to this path.
A close friend of mine named Mark Frie had gone missing and was believed to have drowned in the Antietam Creek. Many of our friends joined the police and fire department's search efforts. After a long and painful 48 hours, and without any cadaver dog's aid, Mark's body was retrieved and returned to his family. The next day I quit my sales job and began my search for the best dog training school I could find. My search ended when my wife and I read about the Tom Rose School for Dog Trainers in St. Louis, Missouri. This dog training school was the only dog training school recognized by the US Board of Education; it may still be. At the Tom Rose School for Dog Training:
I graduated top of my class as a Professional Trainer in 2004 from the Tom Rose School of Dog Training. The Tom Rose School of Dog Training is located in Jefferson County, Missouri, and is the only dog training school recognized by the United States Department of Education. Education program focused on the following:
Khalua Bay - Chocolate Lab: certified in AKC novice, AKC BH, narcotics: ( marijuana, black tar heroin, crystal meth)
Ty - Belgian Malinois: certified in personal protection and narcotics: (marijuana, black tar heroin, crystal meth)
Boye - Belgian Malinois: certified in home invasion, personal protection, and ring sport
Gandolff - Great Dane: certified as a therapy dog
Andra - Shepherd: AKC open routine, agility, and Schutzhund 2
I received top honors and certification from East Coast K-9 under the direction of Clay Meadow for the following law enforcement techniques:
I returned as a graduate from the Tom Rose School of Dog Training 4 weeks before my first child's birth and began the new journey of fatherhood, dog trainer, and business owner. After eight years, I am happy to report that I am still happily married, have three daughters, and manage the business one day at a time!
I volunteer for local schools in Washington County to give demonstrations on search and rescue, animal protection, and puppy care.