Kingsport Times-News: Navy veteran finds her 'Pawfect Place'
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Navy veteran finds her 'Pawfect Place'

Suzi McKee • Mar 26, 2019 at 4:30 PM

After working for a few years as a CNA in the Tri-Cities and spending five years in the United States Navy, Cassidy Mortensen started looking for a career path where she could have passion and make a difference. At the end of her regular work day as Certified Lab Technician in the Navy, she found herself volunteering at Paw Works in Southern California to help with adoption events, fundraising, transportation, fostering, and providing medical care for the animals. Cassidy began to work with neglected and abused animals, and found the direction that she wanted to take once her Naval career had ended.

“I noticed that each dog was different and did a variety of things to decompress, gain confidence, and learn,” she began, “and with the work that I was doing, I began to consider being a trainer to help dogs that needed someone to instill a sense of confidence and belonging in them. One of the most beautiful moments to experience with training dogs is when you see them learn and their eyes light up with their new-found knowledge.”

Cassidy wanted to become the best dog trainer she could be with professional credentials, so she began to follow well-known trainers and do research on where they had received their training. “Starmark Academy near Austin, Texas, offered world-class education and training, so I decided to pursue becoming a Certified Canine Trainer and a Behavior Specialist,” she continued.

With hands-on experiences she described as a “boot camp for dog training,” Cassidy worked directly with dogs every day. The intense program prepared her to work with dogs that had severe backgrounds so that she could bring them back to normalcy and a more successful life.

Once she returned to the Tri-Cities, Cassidy approached the Animal Shelter of Sullivan County about working with some of their dogs. “I asked for the dog that had been there the longest and the one that was most deserving of a home,” she explained. Zeus was the dog chosen and Cassidy began the tedious task of working with him to bring him to the place where he could be adopted by a loving family. Once her work with him ended, he was successfully adopted into his new life.

“I like to compare obedience training to meditation,” she went on. “Many times, even humans have a lot of different thoughts rushing through their minds and dogs are no different. They need to understand the environment around them, what is going on, what their place in the home is, and how they are expected to behave. Obedience training calms their mind and brings them back into the moment in which they are more in self-control and exhibit more confidence.”

Cassidy begins with a balanced training approach that takes time to determine how each dog learns and how to work one-on-one for improvement. “It’s a step-by-step methodology,” she explained, “that helps me to gain the trust of the dog and to begin to facilitate more self-control in the animal. I also work with the family as well. People mean well but many times they just don’t know how to work with their pet and which tools help them to achieve complete obedience.”

With plans to open a new facility soon, Cassidy wants to expand her influence and work with dogs in the Tri-Cities.

“In my new building which is going to be located in Bluff City, I can incorporate new equipment and additional staff to help dogs reach their full potential,” she explained. “So many dogs are simply locked inside themselves and I have the keys to make each dog a more confident, well-rounded, obedient family member.”

Learn more about Cassidy and her new business, The Pawfect Place, online. Or she can be reached at (423) 863-3358 for private training sessions or a free consultation.

“My purpose is to bring man’s best friend back to homes in our area,” she said with a smile. “Obedience is the foundation for dogs to begin exploring the world around them and with my expertise, I can successfully give them the tools that they and their owners need for a more rewarding lifestyle.”

To learn more, visit www.thepawfectplace.com.

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