Shelter to Soldier – “Saving Lives, Two at a Time” – Yoga Digest

July 19, 2015

Yoga Digest July:August Cover


Yoga Digest July:August Issue STS Cover Shot


Wow! What a pleasure and blessing to be able to see the story of one of our veteran/service dog teams featured in the July/August issue of Yoga Digest. The article is a 4 page spread and shares information about our mission at Shelter to Soldier, a recent success story and some powerful quotes from veteran recipient Vic Martin and his wife Kacy Martin. Huge thank you’s to Vic, Kacy, Jenn Bodnar for writing this amazing article and to Maxine Chapman (Founder of BuddhiBox Yoga Subscription Box) for helping connect the dots and make this happen. It is so important for people to understand a few things about our mission and the massive impact an article like this has. 

Every day, 22 veterans and 1 active duty service member are lost to suicide…every year, approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized in our nation. This story is about 2 lives we helped save through our program, and by sharing their story we will save many more. The message that is being spread in a national publication like this magazine is this: Hope for many other veterans feeling as though there isn’t any left, hope for the spouse and family of a veteran who also feels there is no where else to turn, and hope for the dogs that are lost, confused, scared, homeless and voiceless.

Shelter to Soldier is still a young and small charity and while we aren’t even scraping the surface when it comes to helping veterans in the masses and saving tens of thousand of dogs directly, we understand the immense value of each and every life, 2-legged and 4-legged. Shelter to Soldier will continue to grow and help others but we understand that we can’t do it alone. We are so thankful that Yoga Digest has shared our story on this platform, so that we may touch the lives of so many more individuals who are seeking support in the face of adversity.

Please, take the time to purchase this issue online or by hard copy on a newsstand near you, or purchase the yearly subscription of Yoga Digest to receive motivation to be your best self. You will get to read the entire article about Shelter to Soldier, Vic Martin and his service dog Kira (Kira the Service Dog) as well as many other great pieces that Yoga Digest offers for families in this issue. We can’t continue our mission without the kindness of people sharing it, and in this case Jenn Bodnar and Yoga Digest did that for us. They too can’t continue to help organizations like us if we don’t support them.

Yoga Digest

Visit this link to subscribe:

Blessed and grateful,

Shelter to Soldier (monthly donation option available)

Service Dogs & Service Dog Training

April 28, 2015

At Specialty Dog Training, we believe in harnessing a dogs desire to work, their amazing love and devotion, and their intelligence. We love working with all breeds, ages, sizes and in all capacities. Our San Diego dog training company teaches pet dogs fundamental obedience commands, we work through basic behavioral issues, improve, manage and alter severe behavioral issues, train Therapy Dogs, we work with and train service dogs (assistance dogs), perhaps our favorite of them all. Training and certifying properly trained service dogs takes an enormous amount of love, time, passion, patience, consistency, ability and skill. Our team at Specialty Dog Training offers those things and more. Our Founder, President and Head Trainer, Graham Bloem, has been training working dogs for 10 of the last 14 years he has been a professional dog trainer. He and our dedicated team at Specialty Dog Training provide elite training programs for service dogs and their owners. We are also commonly asked to place pre-trained service dogs and gladly match our clients needs to one of our talented canines.

Having any type of disability can be very difficult, and working through the challenges of your disability alone can make it ever harder. By introducing a working service dog into your life, you can increase your confidence and begin to do things you weren’t able to do before. Assistance dogs have been helping people for a long time. Service dogs have proven how amazing they are and what they can do to better the lives of people in need. They are often capable of improving symptoms and quality of life beyond our expectations.

At Specialty Dog Training, we primarily train psychiatric service dogs, mobility assistance dogs, seizure response service dogs and service dogs for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Any service dog training inquiries outside of these parameters will be referred (when resource is available) to other companies in the area that specialize in training service dogs specifically needs outside of those described above.

We value the opportunity to help you become part of a team with the right service dog. It keeps our cups full, and fuels our passion for dog training, as the goal of every member of our team is to help dogs help people. Having a working service dog is evidence of a mutual bond, a team working and growing together. Many of our graduates say that is one of the best parts about having a service animal.

Please take the time to read about our service dog training program criteria to see if owning a service dog is right for you and if we are a good fit for each other. Once you have read through the following information and you have an interest in potentially enrolling in our service dog-training program, please “click here to fill out our contact form. We will email you to set up a phone consultation within 24 to 48 hours.


Specialty Dog Training requires the following criteria to be followed to train and assist in certifying service dogs/assistance dogs for our clients:


  • A letter of recommendation to the client directly indicating the need for a trained serviced dog/assistance dog. This letter must come from a licensed medical professional and the letter should also state the medical reasoning for this need.
  • Two 1-hour (minimum) phone consultation prior to enrollment to discuss your needs and goals and for our company to explain the process to achieving those goals with a program outline.
  • One of our dog trainers must evaluate your dog should you elect to enroll an existing pet that you own. Your dog must pass our behavioral evaluation and service dog testing criteria in order to be accepted into our service dog-training program. This evaluation is $175.00, however, if you enroll in a training program with us, those funds are credited towards the balance. If you do not have a dog chosen yet, Specialty Dog Training will assist in the process of acquiring a dog best suited for you to fit your specific needs. Our company does not begin the process of acquiring a dog until our client has committed to the program by signing the training agreement and fulfilling the financial obligation of that contract. Our team of dogtrainers will help you find a dog that has a suitable temperament, age, size and potential ability. Depending on your unique needs, we may suggest rescuing the dog from a local shelter, humane society, or breed specific rescue. In some cases, hand picked breeders that follow excellent breeding practices are utilized.
  • If our clients are outside of San Diego County, Specialty DogTraining does require that the client pay all travel and consulting expenses related to their dog and his/her training. We may also require our client to travel to San Diego and stay for a period of time to complete handler training. In some cases we will provide the handling training to you at your location as well.
  • Our dogs in training will have a minimum of 120 hours of hands-on instruction over a period of a minimum of 6 months. No less than 30 of these hours will be devoted to outings in public settings to condition the dog to respond obediently in all environments. The majority of our dogs go through a 1-2 year service dog training program and we perform well over the 120 hour minimum standard.
  • We will not pass any dogs exhibiting aggressive behavior towards people or other animals.
  • Service dogs are not pets, they are working animals that must be trained to be highly obedient and perform their trained task. For this reason, our service dogs are also not allowed to solicit food, attention or petting from other people while working. They may not sniff merchandise, people or dogs while working. The dog must accept loud noises, lights, strange sights, unusual footing and all other real life distractions. Service dogs are not allowed to urinate or defecate in public unless given permission by their handler in the appropriate place.
  • At Specialty DogTraining we can train a vocal response (bark command) to be utilized as an alerting tool only when needed to meet the clients needs in a service dog. This learned behavior is a non-aggressive cue. We do not train or certify service dogs for personal protection or guard dog work.
  • All graduating service dogs will be trained to perform tasks on command (verbal, hand or other specific cue) for the benefit of their disabled handler.
  • All service dogs in our program must pass a CGC (Canine Good Citizen Test), the ADA Public Access Test and a specific task related test. Specialty Dog Training also requires our clients/handlers to pass a verbal or written (depending on client) test on service dog laws, dog handling commands and cues, speaking with the public about their dog and basic medical care for their dog.
  • Please note that our service dogs & service dog training programs start at $25,000.00. We understand this is a substantial investment for you as it is for us as well. We train service dogs for those in need because we love to. Our pet dog programs are far more lucrative for our company and for this reason, we only take on select approved cases and we often have a wait list. A number of our recipients that were not financially able to afford this service on their own created Go Fund Me and/or Indigogo campaigns to raise the needed funds. On the other hand, we don’t dare to put a price tag on the positive life changing opportunity of having a service dog at your side.

**If you are a post 9/11 US Combat Veteran seeing a trained service dog, please contact our charity partner Shelter to Soldier. Qualified candidates receive service dogs at no charge.




A Trip to the Vet: Dog Training San Diego

March 3, 2015

A Trip to the Veterinarian


Are you planning a trip to the Veterinarian soon? Maybe your pup just needs a routine check up, updated vaccines or possibly even surgery. Well, regardless of the type of visit there are some things you can do to help make the experience for you and your canine companion much better.

  1. Don’t wait until you “NEED” to go to the Vet. Plan a trip once a month where you just stop in and say hi to the staff, give your dog a treat for walking in to the building and then leave. By visiting your dogs Vet frequently and making it a positive experience, when you really need to go your dog won’t dislike the visit nearly as much…if at all. This will also associate car rides as a positive thing, rather then going in the car twice a year to get stuck with needles and thermometers your pup will think there is something in it for him/her.
  2. Build a relationship with your Vet and make sure that he/she is a good fit for you and your dog. Some Vet’s are good with small dogs, some with large and others are good with both. It helps if your pup enjoys his/her doctor and the staff around them as well
  3. Although you may have been referred to a Vet or heard great things from others, each person and dog is an individual and my advice would be to try and set up a meeting or basic exam to get a feel for the practice and the Veterinarian. If that meeting goes well then you can commit to a long-term relationship and other procedures.

Does your dog respond negatively when visiting the Vet? You may need professional help to work through these worries and issues. Call or email us anytime to set up a consultation and we can discuss how our team can help improve your pups vet experience!



Thank you!

Shelter to Soldier 2nd Annual Benefit

July 23, 2014

Saving Lives, Two at a Time


ShelterSoldierInvite:Layout 1.qxd

Visit to purchase tickets.

We look forward to seeing you on Monday July 28th from 6 – 10 pm at The Ultimate Skybox!

Ranch & Coast Magazine’s Best of 2013 Party @ Schubach Aviation

May 30, 2013

TJ & James

R&C and Schubach Event for STS May 2013


It is with immense gratitude that I write this to most sincerely thank Schubach Aviation and Ranch & Coast Magazine for hosting the event of the season, San Diego’s “Best of 2013 Party” on Friday May 24th, 2013 at Schubach Aviation’s hangar in Carlsbad, CA. Shelter to Soldier was the beneficiary for this year’s party and we are blown away with the generosity of the above mentioned organizations as well as the many individuals and companies that donated to the successful opportunity drawing and silent and live auctions.

Thank you to Andrea Naversen for being our wonderful MC and to Russ T Nailz for donating his time as our auctioneer. We appreciate all of the donors that helped us raise much needed funds via our silent auction and opportunity drawings: Detour Salon, Curtis Chan, DDS., Fairen Del, George’s California Modern, Urban Plates, Solace, Carmel Valley Facial Plastic Surgery, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, Helen Woodward Animal Center, Café Secret, Uber on Demand Private Drivers, Shier Aviation, Pacifica Del Mar, San Diego Opera, Popchips & SeaWorld, Cynthia Webb Designs, Camellia Boutique, Burlap, Baxter Development Group, The Lodge Torrey Pines, Promises2Kids Summer Concert Gala, TRE Boutique, Longaberger (through Lore Meanley), Schubach Aviation, Geppetto’s, BodyRokCarlsbad, Dirty Dogs, Frog’s Fitness, Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Del Mar Rendezvous, HPF Hangover Prevention, Cedros Soles & 20 Lounge, Adelaide’s, and Belly Up.

silent auction table pic

A special thank you to our live auction donors; Schubach Aviation & The Bacara Resort, The Grand Del Mar, and John Matty Co. We were able to raise $11,100.00 on these amazing live auction items alone! We will be posting the total amount raised soon!

We would also like to thank the culinary and beverage partners who certainly added so much to the evening. Pamplemousse Grille, Del Mar Rendezvous, The Fish Market, Burlap, Market Restaurant & Bar, The Marine Room, Pacifica Del Mar, Cafe’ Secret, Waters Fine Catering, Stone Brewing Co., Nobleza Azul Tequila and Venom Vodka. A big thank you to our floral partner, Adelaide’s, for providing amazing arrangements!

The event was a huge success for CA non-profit Shelter to Soldier and has given us a needed boost for rescuing and training more shelter dogs and certifying them to be service companions for our veterans suffering with mental health disabilities.

We will be forever grateful for the level of support and love that was evident from the beginning to the end of the event, and we are particularly grateful to be a part of such a giving, loving and dedicated community.

We look forward to growing the partnerships and networks that were established on this fantastic evening and we can’t wait to see familiar faces at our future events. Thank you for your continued support! Together we will save lives, two at a time!


Please visit: for more information about our organization


Ty at event 1

SOF (Special Operations Forces) Relay Run to Support Shelter to Soldier

December 26, 2012

Our Shelter to Soldier partner and good friend Major Brian Dennis and 11 warriors from SOCOM are running a 200 mile relay race from Miami to Key West on Jan 5th. Most of these warriors are combat veterans using this as an opportunity to raise money and awareness for Shelter to Soldier, our 501c3 non-profit that pairs dogs in need with warriors in need. Read more about Shelter to Soldier

Many of you know Brian because of his heroic story of rescuing a scared and abused dog in Iraq named Nubs. Nubs and Brian are working hard to help raise more donations and awareness for our non profit and we appreciate all of your support. These two heroes and war veterans (yes Nubs is a vet too) are being joined by 11 other outstanding special operations warriors to run 200 miles for a great cause!

Please support these war heroes and Shelter to Soldier by donating in the following ways:

Online via PayPal:

Or you can mail a check or money order to:

Shelter to Soldier

SOF Warriors Run

5266 40th St. S

St. Petersburg, FL 33711

Please make out the check to Shelter to Soldier and put SOF Warriors Run in the memo section. (SOF stands for Special Operations Forces)

Thanks so much for being a friend of dogs and warriors in need!


With appreciation,

Graham Bloem, Brian Dennis, Nubs the Dog and the team at SOCOM

Shelter to Soldier – Therapy Dog Program

November 24, 2012

Shelter to Soldier is growing our spectrum of services to those in need. We are building a one of a kind Therapy Dog Program. Shelter to Soldier therapy dog volunteers will participate in therapy visits at medical facilities, military related facilities, schools and other programs in need of some puppy love. For those of you that are interested in becoming a part of this sector of Shelter to Soldier, please contact us. We are accepting applicants with certified therapy dogs, dogs that have foundation obedience but need additional training prior to the therapy test as well as guiding dogs and their owners from the ground up. Graham Bloem & Specialty Dog Training™ will create a custom training program for you and your graduate-to-be, if you haven’t already achieved this prestigious certification.

 Click below to contact us:

Fall Dog Training Specials

November 4, 2012

Fall Dog Training Specials

SDT Core Lesson Packages


  • Individual In Home Lessons: Was: $200 per lesson                          Now:  $150.00 per lesson
  • 10 In Home Lessons:            Was: $1750.00 ($175 per lesson)         Now: $1500.00 ($150 per lesson)
  • 20 In Home Lessons:            Was: $3000.00 ($150 per lesson)         Now$2500.00 ($125 per lesson)
  • 30 In Home Lessons:             Was:$3750.00 ($125 per lesson)         Now: $3000.00 ($100 per lesson)
This special ends soon and we are only offering 3 of each package at this price. Payment is due in full at the time of enrollment and the lessons do not expire.
Zip codes included for in home lessons: 92122, 92037,92121, 92126, 92127, 92128, 92064, 92130, 92014, 92067, 92075, 92007, 92024, 92065
I am looking forward to working with you.
Graham Bloem
President & Certified Dog Trainer
Specialty Dog Training™

Shelter to Soldier: Paws 4 Troops Fundraiser

October 16, 2012

Shelter to Soldier is excited to announce our 1st annual fundraiser!

Paws 4 Troops

Friday November 16th from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm

  • Please help support Shelter to Soldier by participating in our raffle and silent & live auctions, as well as long term contribution plans.
  • Shelter to Soldier provides needed and life changing support to veterans by pairing them with trained service dogs.
  • Meet like-minded people who share in a committment to our troops and who love dogs!
  • Tickets: $50.00 each (Purchase below by choosing quantity and then click “Buy Now”)
  • Appetizers, Dinner and Non-Alcoholic Beverages Included.
  • *Full cash bar available & all proceeds are donated to Shelter to Soldier
Special Guests: 
  • Major Brian Dennis: F18 Pilot in USMC & NY Times Best Selling Author of the book: “Nubs, The True       Story of A Mutt, A Marine & A Miracle”
  • Jagger & Kristi – Magic 92.5 Morning Show
  • Others to be announced

Purchase Tickets


We appreciate your support

Shelter to Soldier Needs Your Support

October 3, 2012

We want to thank everyone for their positive feedback and support for our non-profit, Shelter to Soldier. We are so excited to help many dogs and soldiers in need through this program! Shelter to Soldier has already achieved more exposure than anticipated and we have military men and women in need that we will help. In order to do so, we need donations. Being a private non-profit, we rely on individuals and corporations to sponsor our program. Each dog becomes a part of our STS family and we provide housing, a good quality diet, treats & bones, medical care and of course high end dog training.

Last night I met yet another Marine that’s story touched me. He broke his neck and had multiple other life threatening injuries. The doctors told him he wouldn’t walk again and he was lucky to be alive. Not only is he alive and walking, he was in a break dance class rockin it!! My son was in the same class and truly admired this hero as do I. While speaking with this gentlemen, he said he has tried to acquire a service dog multiple times and has either been denied or been put on a “list”. He is one of many veterans that deserves a service companion and I want to help make his dream come true. I want to accept him, not deny him. I want to make him a part of our STS family, not put him on a “list”. He is one of many veterans I have had the pleasure of meeting recently that has been through too much and need a canine companion. Just 2 days before this I spoke to a good friend of a 21 year old marine that stood on an IED and lost both of his legs just weeks ago…He is a fighter and working through this difficult time but a service companion would improve his quality of life greatly!

Please support us in saving dogs and helping soldiers by visiting our page and donating. We will be updating our site and FB with success stories, pictures and videos along the way.

With sincere appreciation!

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