From One “Soldier” to Another. Meet Katie, Service Dog Trainer
Update, June 2020: This article was posted in May 2017; since that time, Katie has earned her Master’s Degree and now serves as an alumni advisor, service dog team, where she supports veterans who are applicants-in-waiting as well as alumni of our programs.
Katie Young’s Vietnam-veteran dad nicknamed her “Soldier” as a child because she played like a hardcore daredevil. This self-proclaimed tomboy roamed the woods, played in sewage drains, and dared any boy to be faster, stronger, or fiercer. At 17, she biked 1,000 miles for a school project. The assignment? A broad “get out in the real world and get experience” was the only invitation she needed to hit the road, hard.
In addition to earning two bachelor’s degrees and working as a canine care technician and Puppy Raising Services administrative assistant for our school, she’s previously worked as a horse wrangler, camp counselor, spin instructor, and as a volunteer doing animal assisted therapy on Maui, Hawaii. Today Katie lives at a marina on a 1971 Yankee 30 sailboat, runs marathons, competes in triathlons, and studies for her masters’ degree. Whew!
Her Work at Southeastern Guide Dogs
Since 2013, Katie’s been training service dogs, first as part of our three-year apprenticeship and then as a trainer. She recently achieved the Assistance Dogs International (ADI) Service Dog Instructor certification, a rigorous course of study and hands-on effort culminating in a lengthy exam. As a certified service dog trainer, it’s no wonder class veterans give her a salute of respect and the right hand of friendship. She’s got what it takes and she knows what she’s doing.
“I love my job,” she says. “I have a great team to work with and I love the impact that we make. I love the impact that the dog makes on not only the individual, but the family and the surrounding community. I travel all over the country to follow up with a lot of them, so it’s fun to get to see them afterwards and see the progress they’ve made.”
With her outstanding credentials, fun-but-tough attitude, and ever-ready smile, Katie makes an amazing service dog trainer and friend to our veterans.