Get to know our trainers! This is the first in a series of interviews highlighting our amazing team of trainers! In this interview, we ask Lead Trainer Jenna Larson of Valor K9 Academy – Boise some questions to get to know her better!
Where are you from? What’s the best thing to do there?
I am from Battle Ground, Washington. It used to be a small city, so small that when people asked me where I was from, I had to say just north of Portland Oregon otherwise they looked at me puzzled. Now, though, it is becoming a much bigger city. Every time I visit there is something new done to the area.
I think the best thing to do in Battle Ground is honestly going to Barrel Mountain Brewery (BMB). They have the BEST Burgers I’ve ever had. I still haven’t found one that compares. It’s also right next door to my Mother’s shop “The Nest” so when I go, I can stop by and visit with my mom while she’s working. Back when I lived back home, we used to always get BMB for lunch together on the days she was working and just talk about life while listening to music.
What did you eat for breakfast?
This morning I had avocado toast with bacon, a fruit/veggie protein smoothie, and an orange. I try to eat healthy but, in all reality, sometimes I just have a smoothie for breakfast or a good ol’ protein bar.
What’s your favorite way to get in some exercise?
Hiking with the pups is by far my favorite way to get exercise. I get to see all of God’s beautiful creations, get some fresh air and hear the birds sing, and just explore the new area. Not to mention I get to get some awesome pictures too! This summer I plan to go on one new hike each weekend.
Does your current car have a name? What is it?
Yes, it does. It is…. Vanilla Ice, ha-ha. I have a white Subaru and I used to love the classic song of “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice. I also love the smell of Vanilla, so it fits.
If you were famous, what would you be famous for?
Hmmm… dog training (; Just kidding! I would probably be famous for inventing teleportation so I can travel to whatever state or country I want whenever I want and visit my friends and family without having to drive several hours.
Why did you decide to become a trainer for Valor K9 Academy?
I became a Dog Trainer for Valor for a few reasons. My top reason being the philosophy behind the training at Valor. I worked for a couple
other training places that were supposedly “balanced” but would put prong collars and e-collars on 10-week-old puppies (which there is no need to do). I observed many happy go lucky dogs being shut down and learn to hate training because of it. I also witnessed several dogs coming back for more training because the prior training didn’t work. I was a trainer for these companies, yet I could never do lessons, nor was I allowed to watch them transfer the training to the owners.
When I did the Shadow Program with Head Trainer Amy back in 2018, I knew I wanted to work with Valor. I got to see dogs and puppies THRIVE in training and actually love it. I saw owners extremely happy and confident in their dogs training. I saw owners and their dogs come back to training classes not because they needed it but because they enjoyed it. And I also saw just a great work environment.
What is your favorite type of training to do? Why?
Ever since I was little, I’ve been drawn to Service Dog training. When I was in middle school and high school, I volunteered with Northwest Battle Buddies who pairs Service Dogs with Veterans. I got to help with puppy raising, pack walks, events. And I got to experience life changing moments for people who needed these dogs. Since then, I’ve always wanted to be in that field.
I love the intricate amount of training it takes from beginning to end. From finding a breeder, to picking the right puppy, continuing with puppy training, then going through public access training, teaching individual tasks and disruptions, then training the owner how to work with that dog, is just an amazing process.
It is also more recently closer to my heart because of Toby being my Service Dog and helping me through a lot of rough patches in my life.
What is your 5-year goal as a trainer?
Over the next 5 years I want to continue to grow as a Lead Trainer, help train other trainers, work with shadow students, grow my knowledge in Service Dog work, and expand in the online training platform to offer more training advice and tips across the world.
I am also planning to raise and train another demo dog to join my pack. To expand my current demo dogs training I will continue to pursue titling Toby in Dock Diving and Lure Coursing.
Tell us about Toby, your service dog. What does he do for you? How has he helped you?
Tobes is a Multi-purpose Service Dog. He primarily is a Medical Alert and Response Service Dog, but he also disrupts anxious behaviors and stops panic attacks from arising. He alerts me when my heart rate is getting too high and/or if I’m heavy breathing and he will then perform DPT (Deep Pressure Therapy) in response to help lower my heart rate. He also knows a variety of tasks such as getting me water, medication, shoes, or even his leash, opening and closing doors, disrupting anxious behaviors such as shaking my leg or scratching, and more!
Toby helps me every day and has given me some more independence back. Prior to having him I would go to grocery stores and have anxiety attacks because it was too overwhelming for me. Now with Toby as my SD I can go to stores and he can ease my anxiety by alerting me if my heart rate is too high or disrupting behaviors that would lead up to an attack. I am able to go on flights without having a panic attack, I can go on more hikes knowing Toby will let me know if it’s too much. And I know that if I’m having a bad health day, he will be there to help me through it.
Of course, Toby is also my Demo dog for clients. I can take him into a consultation or lesson and know he will be on his best behavior without me having to give him much guidance. He has helped me rehabilitate several dogs now and absolutely loves his job!
You’ve been in Boise for just over a year now. Do you like it?
I absolutely love it. Only thing missing is my family. The weather here is amazing compared to my hometown where it always rained and the atmosphere here is welcoming.
Thank you, Jenna!