Tools for Canine Engagement
North Star K9 Training launches a dog training business tailored to each dog’s individual personality and needs
Four young women, all friends and life-long animal lovers, found themselves at a pivot point: What would life be like if they pooled their efforts and launched their own business? What if they had the freedom to create a niche experience for dog owners?
“We sat down in camp chairs in a circle on UT campus under a starry sky,” says Shannon Thurston. “If we created a new business, what would the name be? That’s how we came up with ‘North Star K9 Training.’”
That night at UT, Shannon, along with Chloe Brock, Lindsey Brock, and Ellie Terry-Emert made a decision to take a leap of faith.
“The four of us literally held hands and jumped off a cliff into unknown waters,” Shannon says. “We knew we’d either sink or swim for our lives.”
And swim they did. They started with adventure dog training camps in January, then opened the doors to their downtown Cooper Street facility a month later.
One of the things that sets this company apart is their commitment to treating every dog as individuals. “Their learning paths will be totally different,” Chloe says. “Other companies are more assembly-line, but we tailor the training process to the dog’s—and owner’s—needs. One dog’s first lesson is not another dog’s first lesson.”
Dogs, like people, need a sense of purpose and achievement, Shannon says. “We provide the tools for dog owners to offer mental stimulation, brain and body exercise, confidence, leadership and enrichment that comes with a pay-check for both the owner and the dog.”
Take Stella for example, a German Shepard who began training with North Star in July.
“Despite former aggression training, she couldn’t even get within 30 feet of another dog without lunging, barking, and scaring whoever was nearby,” Ellie says. “She was largely confined to the house. But after working with her and her owners for a couple weeks, they can now take her out around the town and share more experiences as a family unit. Those cases fuel me to keep doing what I do and really give me purpose.”
Since January, the North Star K9 team has grown to six and they have provided dozens of dogs, like Stella, with the training they need to live enriched lives. This team has also gone above and beyond to help a variety of local non-profits committed to bettering the lives of the four-legged friends in the region, including Volunteer Doberman Rescue, Adopt-A-Golden, Young Williams and Dobie Defenders. In November, they made a ripple across Knoxville by winning Cityview’s Best of the Best in the Dog Training category.
The company is already offering a monthly pack walk and biweekly Tailgate Pawtys, but much more is planned. They hope to partner with other local businesses for a monthly Pup-crawl and Dog Patio sit-out, host events for NSK9 alumni and free informational community nights to promote education in the Knoxville dog community. They want to help more shelter and rescue dogs get adopted and create a lifetime bond with every family and dog that comes through their program.
“A year after that night, we’re so glad we did it,” Ellie says of that pivotal moment at UT last year. “We have no regrets.”