Today we’d like to introduce you to Shayne Henkel.
Hi Shayne, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
It started as a dream several years ago- to be able to provide top quality service dogs to individuals with disabilities. The rise of programs taking advantage of people by providing poorly trained dogs, dogs with no training, or just completely taking their money to just disappear was tipping the ratio of how many reputable programs there are out there. There is a distinct need for highly trained dogs to provide life-saving tasks that benefit their disabled handler. We wanted to help and make a positive impact on our community. Through time, research, and a lot of training: we have made it come to life.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Starting a service dog program that focuses on the correct temperament, health, and training is not for the faint of heart. It has been a full-time commitment with a handful of people on the team to make it happen. Training these dogs also doesn’t happen overnight- it starts from the moment they are born, which is why we had to develop a strong breeding program. Some other challenges you run into are that not every dog is going to work out as a service dog, even when you start training from a young age. There are so many factors that go into service dog training, which means so many things that could possibly go array.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Personally, I serve as one of the accredited trainers, along with overseeing the poodle breeding program. I get the opportunity to take the training dogs out and about to public places such as the grocery store, doctor’s offices, the airport, theme parks, etc. It is so crucial that our training dogs get as much exposure to all kinds of environments as possible to best set them up for success. With our poodle program, I research pedigrees, health testing and match our girls to well-titled males that would produce successful service dogs. I take a lot of pride in what I do because I enjoy it. We have a high training standard and I am proud to uphold that.
What was your favorite childhood memory?
As a child, I grew up heavily involved in theatre, which resulted in me being involved in several productions of Annie. I use to constantly watch the Annie movies and sing the show tunes. My favorite part was the dog, Sandy. As a child, I always wanted to be an animal trainer and wanted to train a sandy of my own.