Founder & Training Director
Graham Bloem was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and has had an affinity with animals all his life, although his true passion is for dogs. At age five, he immigrated to Toronto, Canada with his family, but enjoyed frequent trips back to South Africa. His experiences in wildlife settings instilled a dream of one day working with animals. From Canada, he immigrated to the United States obtaining US citizenship and he now resides in sunny San Diego, CA with his beautiful family (wife Kyrié, three wonderful children, and dogs Lucy, Toffee, and Juno, a Heinz 57-rescue sweetheart, a playful and loving Golden Retriever and a giant Bernese Mountain Dog).
Graham initially worked as the manager of a local pet nutrition store and used this opportunity to learn about the nutritional needs of cats and dogs. He then attended Animal Behavior College, and in 2002 graduated with honors as an Animal Behavior College Certified Dog Trainer (ABCDT).
After college he joined the Helen Woodward Animal Center’s adoption facility in Rancho Santa Fe, CA. working in several roles ending as senior dog trainer. Over the years, he has worked with thousands of dogs, continuing his studies to further his understanding of dogs’ behavior and needs. Graham specialized in behavior modification and helped to save the lives of thousands of dogs from an uncertain future. After the valuable experience at Helen Woodward, Graham established his own dog-training company, West Coast K9. He also accepted a position of senior mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, sharing his dog training knowledge and passion with new trainers and certifying them in California.
Graham has participated in many TV interviews and fundraisers, has been featured in Dog Fancy Magazine, has run seminars on dog care and training, and appeared on several news and radio shows with CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX and CNN. Some of these interviews resulted from his involvement with dogs rescued in the war zone in Iraq. This began with Lava, a puppy rescued during the battle of Fallujah who was brought to the USA by Lt. Col. Jay Kopelman, the New York Times Best Selling Author of “From Bagdad with Love” and “From Bagdad to America,” in which Graham had honorable mentions. Lava is an amazing, loving dog that made an impression on Graham with his outstanding senses and incredible intelligence. Graham helped to socialize and train Lava for his new life in America, teaching him both basic and advanced obedience commands.
In 2006, Graham served the Rancho Coastal Humane Society in Encinitas, CA as their contracting trainer for two years, responsible for behavior assessment, evaluation, treatment plans, staff training, creating and running training programs including volunteer based programs, and other training related tasks. In 2007, Graham was the trainer of another famous dog rescued from the war-zone in Iraq by Lt Col Brian Dennis of the Marine Corps. Lt Col Dennis bonded with a stray mixed-breed dog, Nubs, while serving his country in Iraq. Brian later wrote the NY Times Best Selling Book, “Nubs – The True Story of A Mutt, A Marine and A Miracle,” in which Graham is prominently mentioned. In 2008, Graham joined Snug Pet Resort & Absolute K9 Training team, a pet resort and training facility co-owned by an all-pro NFL star. Snug Pet Resort & Veterinary Hospital is also a boarding facility, grooming salon, and training facility where Graham has had the privilege of working with many dogs, their owners and families.Graham stepped down from his position of General Manager and senior dog trainer at Snug Pet Resort in July 2012 to once again pursue his passion of dog training, particularly behavior cases & service dogs. Graham, his wife Kyrié and friend Krys Holc formed the non-profit “Shelter to Soldier™™”, which provides specially trained rescue dogs to post 9/11 combat veterans working through PTS (post traumatic stress) and/or TBI (traumatic brain injury). The couple also runs and owns their for profit dog training company, Specialty Dog Training.
“When you begin to understand the bond and connection your dog has with you and you have with your dog…confusion will diminish and your dog will begin to follow your lead”
Graham is also a proud co-owner owner of the online pet supply company, Pet Mall America, offering professional guidance and quality pet supplies to owners throughout the country. Lastly, Graham is an Advisor and Chief Dog Trainer for CleverPet LLC. CleverPet is an incredible dog interaction device that has been created to fill the much needed gap of time when owners aren’t home or don’t have time to engage with their dogs. CleverPet keeps pups mentally and physically active through an automated process. Not only is this “game” a ton of fun, it truly helps relieve boredom, stress, anxiety and focuses dogs on the positive process of learning and play. CleverPet, “engage idle paws”.
- Animal Behavior College Certified Dog Trainer
- Mentor Trainer for Animal Behavior College
- Founder of Shelter to Soldier™™ – a non-profit organization that rescues dogs from shelters and trains them to be service dogs for military men and women struggling with PTSD.
- Founder & Training Director – Specialty Dog Training
- Advisor and Chief Dog Trainer for Clever Pet, LLC.
- Founder & President of National Academy of Professional Dog Trainers
- Professional Dog Trainer since 2002
- Apprenticed with renowned Master Dog Trainer, Rick Klassen.
- Dog Trainer to Helen Woodward Animal Center, a world renowned animal shelter, for 4 years.
- Dog Trainer & Consultant to Rancho Coastal Humane Society, a pioneer in rescue programs, for 2 years.
- Dog Trainer to Nubs Dennis, the world famous rescue dog from Iraq. Nubs’ children’s book is a NY Times Best Seller and is one of the most successful children’s books of all time. The story is now being produced into a motion film.
- Dog Trainer to Lava Kopelman, another famous rescue dog from Iraq. Lava’s owner has published two NY Times Best Sellers.
- Managed and directed Snug Pet Resort & Absolute K9 Training for nearly 4 years.
- Canine Good Citizen Evaluator
- Behavioral Evaluator & Specialist
- Service Dog Specialist
- Therapy Dog Specialist
- Business & Dog Behavior Consultant to boarding facilities, doggie daycares, veterinary hospitals, animals shelters & rescues
- Featured on local and national radio
- Featured on local and national news – CBS8, ABC 10News, KUSI, FOX5, NBC, CNN
- ABC 10News Leadership Award Recipient
- 2016 Waggy Award Recipient
- Mentioned and Praised on Ellen DeGeneres Show, Today Show & Tonight Show
- Contributing writer to Dog Fancy Magazine & Dog’s Life Magazine
- Mentor and Trainer to men and women from all branches of our armed forces
Other Members of Our Pack
Co-Founder & Director of Operations
LtCol Brian Dennis
Co-Founder - Treasurer - Board Member
Davis Moss, LCSW
Mental Health Liaison - Board Member
Dr Liz Grey
Veteran Advocate & Recipient