Santa Clarita, Calif., May 24, 2017 – Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and some even have four legs. It was while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq near the Syrian border that Chris Gant encountered Military Working Dogs (MWDs) and witnessed their unwavering dedication to their handlers. Inspired by this experience, a year after being honorably discharged, Chris decided to dedicate his life to training dogs. After months of research for a certified program, he enrolled in Animal Behavior College’s (ABC) On-Campus Dog Trainer Program.
“I was fascinated [by MWDs] and amazed at their unbreakable bond; they are real warriors,” Chris recalled. “I learned a lot from observing them, and it was the memory of those dogs that inspired me to change my life. I used the G.I. Bill® to enroll in ABC.”
Chris graduated and was certified in 2015 and later earned the ABC Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Level 2 (ABCDT-Level 2), which is the school’s highest certification level. He worked as ABC On-Campus Assistant Instructor for two years and was named lead instructor in 2017.
“I enjoyed teaching class a lot,” Chris said. “The experience was invaluable. I met several veterans and found that we have much in common. I put a lot of time into teaching, learning and listening.”
It was while teaching that Chris established The Dusty Trails and Bruised but Not Broken organizations www.TheDustyTrails.com. The Dusty Trails offers doggie daycare, agility training, canine shepherding activities, socialization and one-on-one dog training. In shepherding, canines take an instinct test during their first day to determine if they have the disposition required for herding. If the dog is approved, he then participates in various herding activities such as retrieving, running alongside and guiding livestock.
Bruised but Not Broken is the nonprofit arm of the organization that helps veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) transition to civilian life. Veterans visit the facility and spend hours walking and feeding the dogs and working with them in a nurturing environment.
“Witnessing the bond between the veterans and the dogs they are working with is quite amazing,” Chris said. “Many owners come to me ready to surrender their dogs due to behavioral challenges. But after a month of sessions—sometimes only a week—these same owners wouldn’t give up their dogs for anything. I see myself as a barrier breaker.”
In addition to having dogs at the facility, Chris also has a llama and a sheep – both rescues and plans to rescue more animals and build a retreat for veterans.
“I love my work,” he said. “It’s the most rewarding job in the world. I’m excited to come to work and be with the animals and can’t imagine doing anything else.”
ABC’s five-month On-Campus Dog Trainer Program, which begins on September 3, 2019, and is open to all military veterans, their spouses or dependent children, as well as students with no military affiliation or experience who prefer a traditional classroom environment as opposed to an online course. The program is held at the school’s headquarters, located at 25104 Rye Canyon Loop, Santa Clarita, California, and is approved for veterans and eligible individuals under the provisions of Title 38 of the United States Code under the following programs:
• The Montgomery GI Bill® – Chapter 30
• Post 9/11 GI Bill® – Chapter 33
• Selected Reserve – Chapter 1606
• Reserve Educational Assistance – Chapter 1607
• Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance
• Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment – Chapter 30
Individuals with no military experience or affiliation may qualify for a variety of finance programs ABC offers.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment for dog trainers and other animal care and service workers will grow 22 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. With 60.2 million U.S. households owning a dog, which equates to 89.7 million dogs, according to the 2017-2018 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, ABC certified dog trainers have the option of working for an established company or building their own successful dog training business.
ABC also offers professional certifications in cat training, veterinary assisting and
dog grooming as well as specialized certificates of completion in seven short-term programs, including doggie daycare, pet fostering, pet nutrition and training shelter dogs.
Military veterans may qualify for financial assistance. Call 800-795-3294 or visit
GI Bill® Approved Dog Trainer Program.
About Animal Behavior College
Founded in 1998, Animal Behavior College is a vocational school that trains professional dog trainers, cat trainers, veterinary assistants and pet groomers nationwide and in the 10 provinces of Canada. ABC has graduated more than 28,000 students from its four core programs combined. Students obtain practical hands-on experience applying what they learn by working side-by-side with a member of ABC’s expert mentors group. These mentors include thousands of professional dog trainers, veterinary hospitals and clinics and grooming salons across the U.S. and Canada, dedicated to helping students succeed in the pet services industry.