October 21, 2019
Army veteran, Warren, has overcome PTSD and started his own business as a dog trainer
Warren Howell, from Great Sankey, was medically discharged from the military on medical grounds after developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from his service in Bosnia in 1995. Finding civilian life difficult to adjust to, he decided to adopt a rescue puppy to give him something to focus on.
“It took many years of treatment to get my PTSD under control and throughout that time I adopted rescue dogs. I was training them to cope with the outside world and it was having the same effect on myself. We began helping each other.”
Eventually, Warren had recovered enough to think about returning to work.
“Coming from a military background, security work was a natural career choice for me, but I had built up such a strong connection with dogs during my recovery and I didn’t want to lose that.”
It was then that Warren decided to combine the skills he learnt during his military background with his passion for working with dogs.
“I got a German Shepard puppy called Blade who I trained from 12 weeks old. By the time he was 14 months we had passed our dog handler qualification and began working together in security across the country, including working on the Star Wars film set!”
Unfortunately, one day, while Warren and his dog, Blade, were doing security for a large store, the shop was raided by armed robbers and Blade was attacked and had to be retired. With Blade no longer able to work, it meant Warren was also out of a job.
“My dogs had helped me recover from previous dark periods in my life, and this was no different. I slipped into depression but, to keep positive and focused, I decided to enrol on a canine behaviour course. It wasn’t easy, but my personal experience with dogs helped and I managed to pass with a Distinction!”
Passing his canine behaviour course gave Warren a boost in confidence, but he was still struggling with his mental health and didn’t know how to start a new career.
“Although my confidence was starting to come back, I still didn’t know what directions I was heading in, that’s until I was introduced to a programme called New Leaf.”
New Leaf, funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and The National Lottery Community Fund, is a holistic 1-to-1 programme supporting people to combat their personal barriers to employment.
“New Leaf helped me in so many ways: they helped me to believe in myself again, as well as teaching me how to run my own business and financially supporting me to do so, proving me with budgeting advice and mental health support. Thanks to help from New Leaf, Modify K9 was born and I now have the opportunity to work with lots of dogs and their owners, as well as my best friend, Blade.”
With his new business, Modify K9, Warren is helping the dog owners of Warrington to better understand their canines, develop happy and well-trained dogs, and help people find the perfect puppy for their lifestyle.
So, what’s next for Modify K9?
“The future is looking bright. Modify K9 is going great and I’m also working towards becoming an assistance dog training, so I can train dogs to support people living with mental or physical disabilities.”