Training Staff at Southwest Florida K9 Services
RUSSELL "RUSTY" GRAHAM
• I8 years as police K9 Instructor & Trainer (1988-2006)
• K-9 Instructor: Florida Department of Law Enforcement
• K-9 Instructor: United States Police Canine Association
• K-9 Instructor: National Police Canine Association
• K-9 Evaluator: Florida Department of Law Enforcement
• K-9 Evaluator: United States Police Canine Association
• K-9 Evaluator: National Police Canine Association
• Owner/Head Trainer: Southwest Florida K9 Services (2004)
• 14 years as civilian dog trainer (2004-present)
• Certified K9 Obedience Instructor: Penn Foster
Once I became a deputy sheriff and worked alongside the police K9 officers and their K9 partners I knew that was where I wanted to go in law enforcement. I had a difficult time in being picked for K9 but ended up becoming a Law Enforcement Officer in 1988 when I began working the departments first drug detection K9 in the Narcotics Division. I worked police dogs for 18 years including Patrol, Narcotics Detection, Explosive Detection, and Bloodhound Trailing. I handled six of my own dogs during this period.
In the K9 Unit there are two types of K-9 officers. Those that want to go out and hunt for bad guys and a few that want to train the handlers and their dogs to go out and find the bad guys. I was the second. As I learned the knowledge of the Police K9 trainer I discovered it was as rewarding to have a dog I trained go out and find a hidden bad guy or find a concealed container of illegal drugs. I was given the opportunity to travel and train with some of the best police K9 trainers in the United States. I also competed with my police dogs thruout the United States and racked up a nice set of trophies for their hard work.
Before I retired me and my wife "Dee" started up a small K9 training business in 2004 for a hobby in the hopes that it might turn into a retirement job for me in the near future. We began working with civilians and their K9 partners called "pets". We found that these dogs were as loved by their owners as I had observed with police officers and their K9 partners. However, a lot of these "pets" come with a lot of baggage from shelters and rescue organizations and many were skiddish and frightend unlike the police dogs I had worked with in law enforcement.
A lot of these "pets" were on their last chance with a forever home being passed from one place to another in an attempt to save them from being put down. Some were okay but a good many of these pets needed a lot of loving work, not much pushing and training in a positive happy manner.
I came to hope that the reason I was put on this earth was to help these type animals and attempt to save a few of them from a cruel ending. I truly get my satisfaction from changing a dogs confidence, sense of well being, and seeing the dog develop into a happier, more confident, and of course a more obedient dog.
As I watch the satisfaction on the owners faces as their K9 family learns obedience skills and is able to perform advanced obedience commands it gives me an extremely content feeling.
I thank all of you from deep in my heart that trust me to train you and your dogs. I take that responsibility seriously and hope that every owner and dog that comes to visit and train at Southwest Florida K9 Services leaves satisfied and believe they received quality training. "Rusty"
DIANA "DEE" GRAHAM
While working at the Lee County Sheriff's Office began helping co-workers and friends with dog training of their pets. (1994)
Associates of Science Degree in Animal Science (1998)
Started dog training business of Southwest Florida K9 Services (2004) with husband Rusty
Began weekly socialization and basic training in Cape Coral (2007). Specializes in animal behavior working with dogs to correct behavior problems so these dogs fit into the family life without conflict.
Now instructs Socialization, Basic and Intermediate Obedience and Agility at our training facility located in North Fort Myers.
As a small child around 4 years of age I knew I was meant to work with animals in some fashion, when I found a litter of kittens discarded on the side of the road wrapped in a pillow case and I brought them home. That was my first attempt at being an animal nurse. It didn't work out so well as the kittens all passed away but it made me aware that I wanted to grow up helping animals.
Growing up I was given the chore to feed, water and of course, clean up after our dogs. At the age of 10, we adopted a female border collie from a local shelter. It was at this time that I realized training dogs was going to be a given in my adult life. I began bonding with her and shortly thereafter we began our training regimen. During the summer I would take her outside and teach her to sit and down with treats.
As an adult married to a K9 Officer my first dog to do serious training was a little female GSD named "Casey". At the time, I did not know any difference between imported dogs, backyard breeders, puppy mills, working dogs, show dogs, or pets. Luckily, for me, she was the product of two imported Schutzhund titled working line German Shepherds.
I soon learned how fast working line dogs could be trained due to their natural instinct to work and the drives to work they possess. We worked together as a team for almost two years in Schutzhund but before I was able to title her she unexceptedly passed away at 2 years old.
I was broken hearted and vowed to not have anymore dogs, although, with my husband being a Canine Officer, thankfully that was not the case. I started holding small classes for my friends and co-workers. That was the begining and I am still excited and look forward to training every time I step on the field.
It is my greatest satisfaction with training to take an untrained and unruly animal and turn them into an animal that owners are pleased to own. "Dee"
I love German Shepherds. I actually love all dogs, all animals really, but German Shepherds have my heart. They are my breed. I’ve always had at least one German Shepherd. I've always done at least some training with each of them, and have worked with various trainers.
Six years ago, when my two Shepherds were puppies, I hooked up with Rusty & Dee for training for them. Although I had some previous experience in training, Rusty & Dee taught me so much more. They honed the skills I already had, taught me new and more techniques in training and very importantly, taught me about dog behavior. They also encouraged my desire to keep training and to take my dogs further and further.
I can't possibly explain the bond you get with your dogs when you start to train at that advanced level. You truly become a team…. Not just an owner with their dog, but a team working together to reach a goal. I recently titled my new baby Diva with her Schutzhund BH title. The feeling of pride I have in her and the feeling of accomplishment I feel for the two of us as a team is indescribable. We're now training for our next title and I plan to take my Karma for her BH title as well. I credit and thank Rusty & Dee for our success, which was only possible with their training and encouragement.
I have been teaching for Rusty & Dee for quite a while now, hoping to share the skills and knowledge I've acquired, with other dog owners and their dogs. It's so incredibly satisfying and fulfilling to see people start with us with an out of control dog and to see their progress as they train together and become a team and end up as a happy, bonded unit, and to know I was able to help them get there.
• 8 years training experience
• Titled “Diva” Schutzhund BH
• AKC Evaluator
• K9 Instructor Basic and Intermediate Levels
• Personally trained 8 of her own dogs