noun   val·or   \  ˈva-lər \

Definition of valor

: strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness : personal bravery

I chose the name “Valor K9 Academy” for the business name because “Valor” is another word for courage and represents bravery and fearlessness. It’s the state of mind with which I approach new challenges and obstacles both personally and professionally. Valor also represents my military background and pay tribute to the men and women in blue who defend our safety and security. The thin blue line in the logo is a symbol used by law enforcement to commemorate fallen officers and symbolizes the relationship of the police in the community as protectors from the criminal element.

I’ll be the first to admit that the first year in business was anything but easy. I moved to Chattanooga end of March 2014 and started the business in early April. I knew one person – barely – from social media, and I had signed a lease on an apartment because it was all I could afford. “Rise and Grind” became the theme for each day, and each day presented new challenges and difficulties. My first month in business, I made $330. Everything from creating a logo to designing a website, building training programs and signing new clients was new and challenging. Each day I struggled, and each day I triumphed. Signing my first client was cause for great celebration!

But something incredible happened after my first few clients: They were so happy with their dogs’ training that they told their friends, families, groomers and veterinarians about me. They sent me client after client, and in just a few months’ time business was booming! Valor K9 Academy started with my passion for dogs and turned into a full-time career as a dog trainer. I didn’t know exactly what it would take to succeed, all I knew is that I would in fact succeed! Quitting wasn’t an option. Neither was failure.

Skip ahead one year, and in May 2015 I had the opportunity to move to Washington State to be with the love of my life. Leaving all my hard work behind was devastating, but he was worth it. I left my business behind but took my knowledge with me. In late May 2015 Justin and I got married, and in June 2015 we started Valor K9 Academy – Spokane. At the time I knew only a handful of people in the area and knew nothing about Spokane. As luck would have it, a few weeks after starting the business, I set up a vendor booth at a local pet event, and there I had the opportunity to meet all the local rescue groups. Little did I know, working with rescues would catapult VK9-Spokane’s success in the area and cement our reputation. All I knew at the time was that the rescues needed help, and I could help them. Over the next year, I donated hundreds of hours and over $20,000 in training to help the local rescue groups with puppy, obedience and rehabilitation training.

In August 2015, one of my former clients, Dana O’Lone Long, from Chattanooga contacted me and was curious to know if I would be willing to teach her what I know about training. She was currently working as a veterinary technician at a pet emergency clinic, which she loved, but she wanted to branch out and get into training. After some discussion, we decided to have Dana come out to Spokane for a four-week intensive dog training immersion course. Dana proved to be an excellent trainer – a natural – we knew we couldn’t let her go. So we hired her to pick up where I left off in Chattanooga! My Chattanooga clients were thrilled and immediately filled her schedule with more referrals from friends & family. What a blessing it was!

Fast forward to April 2018: We now have two thriving locations, and business is good. Dana is doing great things in Chattanooga, and we have two full-time trainers here in Spokane plus a new intern trainer-to-be. We’ve had excellent success with our clients and the dogs we’ve trained, and I’m proud to say that we still represent the original core values Valor K9 Academy was founded upon: Integrity, Diligence, Professionalism and Excellence in Everything. Our client satisfaction rate is right around 99%, and we have 100s of 5 star reviews with an average review rating of 4.9 stars. Our trainers love their jobs. They’re happy and hard working. We have plans to potentially expand to a third location, start a new working dog business, and hire a second trainer for Chattanooga.

I can’t wait to celebrate the 4th Anniversary for VK9-Chattanooga next week and the 3rd Anniversary for VK9-Spokane in June.

This business is a dream come true!