Happy Veterans Day! Did you know that every military working dog is a non-commissioned officer- some rank higher than their handler? And in 2000, Congress passed a bill so that military dogs can be adopted by their handlers! Meet a San Diego hero who’s helping military veterans one marine and mutt at a time…
While many claim to be “professional” dog trainer, not many actually train full-time ( and by full-time I mean 40 hours a week ). You wouldn’t hire a doctor who didn’t perform their trade full-time? Why should a dog trainer be any different? After all, it’s for the sake of your furry babies mental health and mannerisms, right?
Here in San Diego resident Graham Bloem is the “Dog Father” of dog trainers. With fourteen years of experience training dogs, his business Specialty Dog Training San Diego, is strong enough to certify all his trainees as service dogs. I’ve personally had the honor of working with Bloem over the years and can honestly say this man has the ability to graciously well manner any barking beast that passes through his program, all without breaking a sweat. A family man and father of three, Bloem devotes his life to animal rescue and dog training, treating every dog he works with the utmost compassion as one of his own. His natural ability to tenaciously keep a dogs focus, no matter how illusive one may be is truly mind blowing.
Having grown up South Africa as a child, Bloem is the epitome of today’s modern day Tarzan. Literally “raised” by wild beasts, calling leopards and baby lions “childhood friends” of his, it makes sense he considers training even the most undomesticated and primitive canines feeling like child’s play to him. What makes Bloem such an incredible human outside of his specialty skill set in dog training, is his enormous heart to give back to the community. Founder of Shelter To Solider a non profit program set out to train rescue dogs for military veterans with post traumatic stress disorder, is just one of his many selfless acts that symbolizes his dedication to give back to the pet community and that of the military community.
Between all his work, Bloem also managed to donate his time to train the dog from the New York Times Best Seller book, Nubs – The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine, and a Miracle. The miraculous story shares the loyalty between a soldier and his dog among the war zone in Iraq. Based on the life of Bloems long time friend Major Brian Dennis and his dog Nubbs, who got his name as his ears were cut off to make him look tough as he had a rough life being used as a fight dog. Shelter to Solider received a lot of attention from the media, military and pet communities. It even sparked controversy raising questions about military funding for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and if scientific proof exists that therapy dogs to help veterans. Below is the documentary “4 Legged Angels” I produced about Graham Bloems amazing work with Shelter to Soldier and the story of Major Brian Dennis and Nubs. Even Ellen DeGeneres wanted in on some!
Bloem has gained a tremendous amount of respect from San Diego’s highest profile animal rescue organizations for his efforts in philanthropy. His extensive list of achievements in the pet community is one to not be over looked when considering hiring a trainer for your dog. Today Graham is proudly supported by San Diego’s most established animal organizations such as San Diego’s Helen Woodward Animal Center, Rancho Coastal Humane Society. He can be seen featured in the media on news station such as KFMB CBS, FOX 5 San Diego, and NBC San Diego. Bloem is honest to dog, the real deal. His work is inspirational and challenges what it means to be an invested dog trainer, a public figure in the pet community, and a local hero to San Diego.
The tall, buffed out, nearly 6 foot red haired beast of man ( with a heart as big as his hands ) can be spotted all over town. Always on the go working with dogs in all shelters throughout the county, if you get the pleasure of running into him, I encourage you to say hello. He’s a wonderful man who will be just as happy to meet you and your dog, as you and Fido will be to meet him! God Bless you Graham Bloem for everything you do to help military veterans and shelter pets.