Student Success Stories

Featured Starmark Graduate

Antonio Diaz, Owner of Leader of the Pack K9 Training

I started Leader Of The Pack K9 Training with one goal in mind – to help as many people as I possibly can and to keep dogs out of shelters. I believe that if you have a dog, you are a dog trainer, whether you know it or not. My job is to help people recognize their role in their dogs behavior and empower them to make the right choices and reach their goals.

Dog training is an art and I truly love the process of teaching and guiding people to be better pet owners, understand their dogs, and ultimately to have better relationships, and live harmoniously together with them. My business is 100% client centered, with a truly balanced approach. The methods, tools and techniques I use are custom tailored to the needs and comfort level of each client and their dog. I work with all breeds, sizes and behavior problems.

At just 3 1/2 years young, my business is thriving and my impact is more and more far-reaching. I work closely with different rescue organizations to help troubled dogs get the training and leadership needed to be placed in a good home and I also train volunteers to give them the tools they need to help dogs within the rescue. I speak at elementary schools in and around Las Vegas, I’ve been featured on the local news almost a half a dozen times and have recently begun to conduct seminars to reach more people. I have also added dog walking (Pack Walks) to my services in which we walk 6-10 dogs simultaneously in a effort to exercise and socialize the dogs that need it.

My experience at Starmark was the foundation from which I was able to build a successful business. From basic to competition obedience, service training, trick training and behavior modification, everything that I was taught I have applied or utilized in one way or another. The most important thing I have learned at Starmark was to always continue educating myself outside of school, but never stray far from the fundamentals of what I learned in those 3 months. This has helped me to think outside the box, while remaining grounded and connected to the basics of how dogs learn and think. I will never forget my time at Starmark, it was the first step towards the fulfillment of my life’s purpose.

Connor Brown- Priority Canine Training LLC.

Attending Starmark Academy was the single best decision of my life. The 12 Week Program gave me the confidence and the knowledge to begin my career as a dog trainer. Throughout the 3 month course the instructors were always there to assist in the classroom and training center. I also appreciated the difficulty of the program as it prepared students for the real world of dog training. Class was from 8am-5:30pm and was a healthy mix of classroom learning and hands on, practical learning. Learning never stopped at 5:30pm though. Myself and many of my classmates would put in hours of studying and training after class and on weekends. There were some weeks where we had several written and practical exams in the same week. The workload helped us prepare for the reality of the lifestyle we were choosing. It was extremely difficult at times, but it was one of the best experiences of my life. The program forced me to step outside of my comfort zone and to work harder than I ever had before.
After graduation I was lucky enough to land an internship with the Academy. My internship was 3 months long, but 2 months in I was hired by Starmark’s Training Department. I worked as a trainer from November 2016 to March 2018 and was able to train 300+ dogs. This opportunity was incredible as it gave me the chance to build up my experience with both obedience training and behavior modification. Working as a trainer at Starmark Animal Behavior Center gave me the confidence to start my own company.
I started Priority Canine Training, LLC in March 2018 with 1 dog and 1 client. Today I have 130+ clients and have made more money than I could ever imagine making at 25. Since March 2018, I have been renting a commercial/office space for the business. It’s been wonderful, but we are on the lookout for something more permanent. In the next 6 months I will be purchasing property and building a barndominium with the hopes that we will be fully operational in our own space by January 2021! This journey has been incredible and I can’t wait to see where Priority Canine Training, LLC is in another 2 years. It’s been a wild ride and it all started at Starmark Academy!

Jenny Orn- Liberty K9 LLC.

"The education that I received at Starmark Academy is irreplaceable. I gained enough knowledge and hands-on experience that I was able to confidently go out and start my own business. Since graduating in January of 2016 I started a successful business, was able to go back to Starmark Academy as an Instructor (another AMAZING opportunity/experience), and have now reopened my business. I have been back open for about 15 months and we have already been able to put up a brand new 32X80 kennel building and expand to also offer grooming. I currently have 4 employees and was able to send 2 of them to attend Starmark as well! So now we will have 3 trainers, which is incredible for a town of only 700 people. I hugely credit my experience at Starmark for a large part of my success. Without that education and experience, I would not be able to provide my clients with the results that they never thought were possible for their dogs. God has blessed my business immensely, but Starmark is where it all started!"
"I used to be a police officer and am a disabled veteran. When my law enforcement career had to come to a premature end due to an injury that occurred while i was deployed and progressively got worse, I was lost. The only thing I've ever wanted to do since I was 9 years old, was to be a police officer, and now that was being taken from me. I really started thinking about what I could possibly do that I would remotely enjoy. I couldn't come up with a single job... other than law enforcement. One day my dad asked me, "If there's anything in the world you could do, and get paid to do it, what would it be?". Well, I thought that I might enjoy training service dogs for veterans. My dad thought that was a great idea and that I would absolutely enjoy that. However, neither of us had ever heard of that being a "real job". Coincidentally, about a week later, I got connected with someone on Facebook who actually did that. That got the ball rolling and I eventually ended up at Starmark. There is still a little bit of a void from missing law enforcement, but man, there is no other job that could give me as much enjoyment and fulfillment as dog training - and owning my own business. If I can't do law enforcement anymore, then this is absolutely the next best option for me. I love it! My favorite part is seeing the owners reaction at the end of a training program. They can't believe that their dog had that in them! I also LOVE being able to take extremely fearful dogs and teach them that the world isn't such a bad place. I enjoy building their confidence and helping them get comfortable in their own skin. My family has also gotten involved in my business. My mom quit her job and went to grooming school, and we now offer full service grooming. My dad is my accountant and silent partner. My grandpa is our unofficial maintenance/handyman. It's been such a wild, but amazing journey! We never would have imagined 4.5 years ago, that this is what Liberty K9 would turn in to. We're still in some disbelief but couldn't be happier!"
- Jenny Orn

Shirley Mesa

My name is Shirley Mesa. I was born and raised in Northern, CA, in the Westwood and Susanville area. I went to school, married, raised my children and now I am watching my grand children grow up here. It is a wonderful place to live. My entire life I have dreamed of being a K9 trainer for working dogs. We have three German Shepherds at this moment, Yesca, who is 2 years, Steel who is 1 year, and Axel who is 6 months. We love our babies! I have went all over California working our German Shepherds. I learned to handle our shepherd Mace in Protection and Security at the K-9 Clinic in Watsonsonville, Ca. The knowledge I gained there set a solid foundation for me. I also gained valuable handling techniques for our shepherds at the Nadelhaus Kennels in Chico, Ca. Every bit of knowledge that I could absorb helped me get closer to my goal. I became a Canine Training Specialist at the Starmark Academy for Professional Dog Trainers in Hutto, Texas. I give so much respect to the Instructors, employees, and my classmates at Starmark. I went there to gain an education and not only did I gain unbelievable knowledge, I gained a new family. That is why Mike and I decided to bring the experience back to Susanville and the surrounding areas. I want people to be able to have a nice, clean, knowledgeable training center to bring their dogs to. To learn to sit, stay, heel, walk on loose leash, proper leash handling and not pull you down the street every time you go for a walk, go to place and not bolt out the front door every time it is opened, recall, train agility, group classes, puppy classes, remote collar conditioning, home manners, behavioral issues and so much more. We want training to be fun, but our main goal is to leave with a well trained obedient dog/puppy.
I truly love dogs, all dogs, big and small. I am so excited about this new venture. One of the best rewards about dog training is the owner seeing the dog/puppy for the first time after training, and they cannot believe its the same dog. Watching the transformation is a reward in itself.. I am proud to be the Owner/Canine Training Specialist of Mesahaus Dog Training Facility!

Rachel Carlson

With the help of my amazing family, I was able to fulfill my childhood dream of owning a boarding and training facility.  We built Wagging Tail Resort from the ground up and opened our doors in December of 2009.  We are currently the only deluxe boarding facility in our area (Jackson, Tn. and the surrounding cities/counties of West Tennessee).  We offer deluxe cat and dog boarding with a home-like atmosphere, a very successful grooming business, and I provide both in-kennel and individual training,  and behavior modification assistance.  I am the only Certified trainer/behaviorist in the area.  Our business has grown to a client base of over 2,000 in the short time that we've been open, and it continues to grow all of the time.  We are in the process of expanding our boarding capabilities with a large addition of our most deluxe suites to our facility, and will be breaking ground on that addition early 2013.  Starmark provided me with the tools needed to pursue this "dream job" of mine, and my family believed in my dream enough to give me the help needed to fulfill that dream.  I am truly blessed!

Alex Urbanski

Since graduating Starmark Academy I've started my own freelance business called Sits, Downs & Tail Wags. I do all in home private sessions as well as my own board and train. I've been very fortunate in acquiring some really great clientele. All of my advertisement is word of mouth and I have steady work and loyal, repeat customers. I also work at a kennel in the Chicago loop, in which I am one of three trainers (one of whom is also a Starmark grad) and get to spend everyday with dogs of different breeds and backgrounds. Come January I'm also teaching a tricks class. I've also been quoted in the Chicago Sun Times on training tips and how to prepare your dog to go to dog friendly establishments. I am doing a lot of Agility with Skylar, who if you remember used to be afraid of her own shadow. Now she's extremely sociable and an agility champ! She took home a blue ribbon at her first trial! I work 6 days a week and get to bring my dogs almost everywhere with me. I've been very fortunate with my success but I couldn't have done it without Starmark.

Alicia Forzano

Jackie was found as a stray, covered with fleas and wandering the streets. This lucky guy found his way into our foster program and was later accepted at Starmark Academy as part of a special free program to train rescue dogs so they will be more adoptable! His trainer, Alicia, fell in love with Jackie and adopted him. Jackie is now a certified Canine Good Citizen, and is also featured in a new book, "Underwater Dogs," by Seth Casteel.

Samantha Almeida

Congratulations to Samantha and her dog Jasta on their showing in the 2009 North East Regional Schutzhund Championship placing 12th.  Way to go!!

Rebecca Henderson

Congratulations to Rebecca and her dog Cooper on earning a level 1 title with a perfect score of 51 in snookers game in agility.

Rayna Stout

Congratulations to Rayna along with her dog Raven on getting their last leg on AKC rally advanced title and their first leg in AKC excellent rally.  Excellent Job!!

Kristen Ness

Kristen, who is one of two dog behavioral specialists in Hawaii, has volunteered her time to join forces with Hawaii Fi-Do.  Hawaii Fi-Do is a non-profit service dog organization that teamed up with multiple wounded warrior organizations to get dogs trained for injured veterans who may need their service.

Marvin Peck

After two weekends of UKC shows, Feb 6-8 in New Kent Virginia and Feb 27 - Mar 1 in Manassas Virginia, Player earned his UKC Conformation Championship. During the New Kent Shows, he received one win in his Puppy Class and one Best Male Win.  During the Manassas Show, Player received 3 First Place wins in his Puppy class and 3 Best Male wins. He also received one Group 1 win, one Best of Breed win, one Reserve Champion win and one Champion of Champion win.  Good Luck on Player’s Grand Champion title!!

John Dick

Congratulations to Mr. John Dick for obtaining the honor of being appointed one of four to judge for the Ireland Kennel Club Retriever Championship.  That is quite an honor!

Rebecca Henderson

Congratulations to Rebecca and her dog Cooper on getting 6 qualifying runs in a NADAC agility trial.

James Reyes

Congratulations to James and his dog Gert on getting their SchH2 in July at the Lone Star Schutzhund Summer Trail with judge Frank Phillips.

Samantha Almeida

Congratulations to Samantha and her dog Jasta on getting her SchH2 Scoring (Tracking: 99, Obedience: 96, Protection: 94) and her SchH3 scoring (98, 92, 99).  She also did her tracking completely off leash.  Way to go Sam!

Kristina Carmodi

Congratulations to Kristina and her Belgian malinois Wyatt Earp de mon Coeur schH3, IPO 3 for their showing at the AWDF championship on May 22-24 2009 in Lehigh Valley, PA. They did a very nice job and ended it up in 8th place (out of 78 dogs) with a score of 98 - 85 -96 total 279.  Way to go!

Linda Wakefield

Congratulations to Linda Wakefield on her 1st place in XA JWW on Friday, October  3, 2009 at the NDTC trial in Tennessee

Krissy Carmondy

Congratulations to Krissy Carmondy & her Malinois Wyatt on becoming the new DVG KG North Regional Schutzhund Champion with a 97-94-97: 288

Jake Jacoby

Congratulations to K-9 officer/Trainer/Graduate Jake Jacoby.

Recently, Jake was tasked with training a class of new Police dogs and handlers. All of his dogs and handlers attended a patrol and narcotics detection academy taught by Jake. At the conclusion of the class all dogs had to go through certification, and all the dogs passed with flying colors. The newly trained dogs and handlers took to the streets to start their careers. Two of the recently certified dogs were put to the test early on. One of the newly certified dogs apprehended a fleeing DUI suspect, by pulling him down off a chain link fence by his ankle. Let’s just say that the suspect may have a new hitch in his gait. The other dog apprehended a suspect that discharged a shotgun inside his house and was suspected of domestic assault on his wife. This suspect thought he would assault the police dog as well by punching him. As the suspect hit the dog, the dog transferred bites from the arm to the leg and continued to hold the suspect. Moral of the story, never engage in a fight with a police dog or handler! Congratulations to Jake and his expert training that made it possible for these handlers and dogs to perform their jobs to perfection and keep our streets safe!