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Veteran opens dog-training business to bridge gap

Cortney Harris (Stands Alone Canine Solutions/Facebook)

A local man has turned his experience in military service and his lingering mental struggles into a positive by starting a dog-training business for the community.

Cortney Harris said he sustained post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury while serving in the Army and utilized a service dog when he returned to aid his transition. His passion for working with dogs began there, and when he returned to St. Joseph, he saw the need to make something of the lack of resources.

“After I came back from Afghanistan, I had some mental issues and all that, and so I did a self-training with the service dog and so I just fell in love with working with dogs,” Harris said. “It took my mind off of all of the issues that I was having and made it to where I was focusing on the dog at the time. It definitely helped because, you know, it’s definitely a companion, but we had the dog to where he was turning it on lights and waking me up during nightmares and stuff like that.”

Stands Alone Canine Solutions became available to the community on April 1 and has since reached about 20 customers across St. Joseph, Kansas City, Platte City, Plattsburgh, Liberty and Cosby. Harris handles the training and his wife runs the business side.

The service opened in Tennessee in 2020 before Harris moved back home to St. Joseph. He said that with the pandemic exacerbating people’s desire to have an animal while spending more time at home, pet owners really needed the help.

“I see a lot of people giving up their pets because they don’t know how to work with them … I just want to help people help dogs and bridge that gap,” Harris said. “We are a generally positive base, we don’t use shock collars, we don’t use prong collars or anything like that. I want the dog to do what you want it to do, not be scared when it doesn’t.”

Harris’ personal experience with PTSD and dog training sparked an interest to help other people, whether they be veterans needing assistance or others.

“In the Army, you work with a lot of different types of people, different personalities and every dog is different, there’s not one cookie-cutter thing that we can do for a dog,” Harris said. “Every dog’s different, every training program is going to be different. It’s the same kind of thing in the Army. You’re going to have different personalities, different ways people work and all that stuff.”

Harris received a degree from Penn Foster to get his education started and plans to master dog training school this summer to have more skills. His goal is to be a more well-rounded trainer, able to teach cadaver, military, police and any other law enforcement dogs in the area.

Stands Alone Canine Solutions offers free evaluations for clients and prefers to train in the home where the dog is most comfortable. Harris can be contacted at [email protected] or 931-249-6060.


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