Be A Pack Leader Dog Walking Club, St. Augustine, Florida

"A Dog Connects You to Nature"

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We were given the Be a Pack Leader Dog Walking Club Scholarship contact information when our family dog of 6 years, Devon, bit our two year old daughter. They were in the kitchen, there was food around and our daughter was hugging Devon around the neck and putting her face in the dog’s face.  When that happened I thought there was no going back. I knew I would never put Devon down; I blamed myself for not watching body language and being too comfortable. I also never trained Devon properly. I was convinced I needed to find another home for Devon, one with no children and with adults who could give her the proper amount of attention.  

I was heartbroken thinking of a life without Devon but I believed it was the right thing to do. For days I called around to dog homes and adoption agencies all of whom told me if there was a bite history there was no way they could take Devon and find her another home.  Finally after days of fruitless phone calls someone at animal control mentioned to me Julie Parker and her ‘Be a Pack Leader Dog Walking Club Scholarship Program’. I immediately sent her an email and filled out a dog training application form describing our situation. Julie responded quickly. Within the week we were already scheduling our first training session with the trainer Courtney that the dog training scholarship program was providing.

Through the training we learned that Devon was insecure and unsure of what behavior was expected of her. We realized the only attention we were giving her was when she did something wrong. Which made both us and Devon feel bad. Courtney told us to provide more praise and treats when Devon was doing something good, for example lying in her bed and being calm. We immediately saw a change in Devon. After two months of weekly training Devon is almost a completely different dog, she is calm and a good listener. I regard her as the most well behaved dog in our neighborhood. Her relationship with our daughter is growing too.  We are going to continue training with Courtney and will be attending an obedience class to keep ourselves and Devon on the right track to a happy safe life together.

This scholarship was a godsend. When no one else in the community or even state would give my dog a second chance Julie did. We learned through our training with Courtney that Devon was not a bad dog, but an insecure dog who needs guidance, love, and discipline from her owners.   Devon is a part of our family and I cannot imagine our life without her.

Dog Owner KW 


SuzieQ was an unplanned adoption that occurred after two years of working with her through the rescue. She was rescued from animal control by SAFE pet rescue when she ended up on the euthanasia list at just 3 years old. Suzie though, had a mysterious upbringing. She feared everything and trusted no one. She bit in defense, out of fear, the only way she had learned to protect herself. She chose me though, to be her person. I worked with her, to the extent of my knowledge and experience. After two years building our relationship, through a failed adoption, major surgery for the herniated disc discovered following a traumatic injury, and countless interviews of potential adopters, it became clear she would never accept anyone else as her person.

I didn’t plan on adopting a second dog, I really could not afford another one. Suzie is special needs and I knew she would require a lot of training and other additional costs due to her biting, such as vet assisted grooming, and her back would always have that 15% chance of another slipped disc. I adopted her anyway, in spite of, or maybe because of, all that comes with her.

Training, especially one on one can become expensive. But it is a necessity. Because of the Be a Pack Leader Dog Walking Club training scholarship we were able to be connected to a knowledgeable trainer, Courtney Keppen, and work at a much higher level to address her biting. Suzie will need continued training to address various behavior issues but this scholarship provided an intense four week program of one on one training I would not have been able to afford at the time.

As a result of the training, Suzie is more cooperative and easier to manage. I too had to learn and work at the training. Courtney was easy to work with and adjusted the training to meet our needs and limitations while still reaching the training goals. We have both learned, adjusted and are happier for it. This may be just a step in her training plan but it was a successful one, accomplished and a strong foundation to build on.

Originally I was hesitant to apply for the scholarship because I was fully aware of the challenge I took on when adopting her. I was not sure about asking for financial help. I was also aware of her strengths’ and I had no doubts she is worth the effort. Because if I cannot love her at her most imperfect, what use is love. Her rescuers, doctors, groomers, trainers’, petsitter and family (human and canine), all make Team SQ and that is why she will be successful. We are thankful for the scholarships existence, and for being a participant. 

Dog Owner Suzanne 


 Dear Julie,

I am writing this letter to first Thank You for the scholarship that Angel received from your organization when we had nowhere else to turn to try and encourage better behaviors with her and learn how to manage a dog that was wrongfully accused of being aggressive. At the time it was Christmas and I had just had a surgery that put me out of work for 6 weeks so the scholarship was a huge blessing. From the moment we met Allison and Rene it was a sense of relief. They worked so patiently with every dog in the class and were very encouraging even on BAD days. Angel already knew basic commands but they taught us how to be the boss and show authority with her. She is so much calmer and listens regularly to us both at home and in public. The class was worth the time and dedication involved in getting her there every weekend. It was amazing how much of a difference it made just to have the right equipment for her. We graduated recently and continue to practice the techniques that work for us. THANK YOU FOR everything.


Sara & Angel


 Our Jack Russell mix, Sawyer, is a very energetic puppy that was on the road to becoming a very unmanageable dog. Since he is our first dog, this breed was not the recommended breed for us, but we were not aware of this until we had adopted him. He was nipping, jumping, pulling, chewing, and was sorely in need of early intervention training. Thanks to the scholarship we received from Be a Pack Leader Dog Walking Club, we received one-on-one training from a professional animal trainer and behaviorist, Courtney Keppen. After only four sessions, the difference is remarkable in Sawyer’s behavior, as well as our knowledge of how to manage Sawyer. We are so thankful to have had this opportunity to learn how to train our new dog, and he has demonstrated that he is a very smart and willing participant in his training. Now he can stay, sit, come, heel and fetch. He can be trusted not to charge other dogs or people when we are at the beach, he can be trusted to stay in the yard off of the leash, he comes when he is called 99% of the time, and is fully house trained. He no longer nips when we are playing with him, and most of all he has become the best dog and companion we could have ever hoped for. We still have a way to go with regard to jumping on people when greeting them, but we now have the tools we need to train him not to do this, and we are making progress. I dare to say that without this scholarship, and Sawyer’s improvement, he might have been just too much for us to handle. Thank you for the incredible gift you have given us!

Donna and Sawyer 


We got our lab mix, Sherlock, from someone who was going to have to give him to a shelter if they couldn’t find him a home. He was only 7 months old and we were told he had been trained. This was untrue however, and his previous owner had not discouraged some bad behaviors like barking at people and other dogs. We thought that we would be able to train him ourselves and it started out well, but we soon realized that he had more behavior issues than we could handle. At that time we had only one income for our family of four and the cost of training was out of our budget. While searching for a solution, I came across the Be A Pack Leader scholarship. It was such a blessing. Julie set us up with some wonderful trainers (Custom K9) who knew how to connect with Sherlock and teach us how to do the same. He is still a work in progress, but after the very first session we saw improvement and felt more confident. They were always available to answer questions. Now that we are in a better financial situation, we are going to continue with their group obedience classes. But without the scholarship and the help we received when we did, I don't think he would have been able to do the group classes without barking and growling at everyone. Sherlock is a wonderful part of our family and I know he is happier now that he isn't full of anxiety when he meets new people and dogs.

Candice Sirak and Sherlock