Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Bethany Helwig
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

It's a pawesome time at Liberty K9

Local veteran expands dog training business in Barnum

 

November 7, 2019

Bethany Helwig

Very good boys and girls stayed on "place" for this picture with Liberty K9 owner Jenny Orn. The dogs from left to right are Chatham, Gracie, Spanky, Dunkin, Sapper, and Kirby.

It was a dog lover's dream visiting Liberty K9, a dog training business in Barnum. When entering the home of Jenny Orn-a dog trainer and veteran-a group of four friendly dogs came to greet me at the door. After being introduced to Dunkin, Sapper, Kirby, and Spanky, the four dogs quietly dispersed throughout the room, occasionally rising to get another scratch behind the ears.

Although Orn has always been a dog lover, becoming a dog trainer wasn't the career she thought she'd have.

Orn worked as a police officer for the Superior and St. Cloud Police Departments for a number of years. It was during her time as an officer that she met one of her dogs, Dunkin, who she rescued from an abusive situation while on the job. She was later able to keep Dunkin who is now a trained therapy dog.

Orn enlisted in the Air National Guard in 2007 and actively drilled for 10 years. While deployed overseas in Saudi Arabia, she received an injury to her back. Over time, the condition of her back deteriorated to the point she could no longer safely work in law enforcement.

"The only thing I had ever wanted to do since I was 9 was be a cop, so I was completely lost," said Orn.

It was her father who urged her to consider if there was anything she could do in the world and get paid for it, what would she do?

Her logical conclusion was training service dogs for veterans. She ended up connecting with a dog trainer through Facebook who did just that and pointed her in the right direction. This new goal led to taking a 12-week course in Texas to earn a Canine Training and Behavior Specialist certificate in early 2016. Following the initial training, she took on an 11-week internship at a different facility to gain experience. That's also when she found one of her other dogs, Sapper.

Although having a certification isn't technically required to train dogs, Orn said, "If ever I have someone that's interested (in dog training), I say go to the school because it's so worth it."

With her new certificate, Orn started her own business in her hometown of Barnum. As for the name, "I wanted something patriotic. I think Liberty K9 is easy to remember. It's short, it's not fancy."

When first starting out, Orn ran the business for about 14 months before taking a position as an instructor at the same Texas facility where she had been trained-this time finding her other dog, Spanky. After another 14 months down south, she returned to revive Liberty K9.

"I'm ten times busier this time than I was the first time," said Orn of returning to the business. "I feel like part of it is there's a need for it in the area. I feel the other part is word of mouth and we have happy clients, so they tell everybody about us. Then one hundred percent God has blessed our business."

Earlier this year, construction began on a new facility to expand the business's capacity. Once finished, it will house an additional training area, 18 runs for the dogs, 10 of which will be outdoor/indoor, and have in-floor heating. The building is still under construction but Orn hopes it will be completed and open for business by December 1.

"We've tentatively set our capacity at 35 dogs max." This also factors in those dogs that come from the same family and can share the same run. The previously max capacity had been 15 dogs.

"We've grown enough and had enough interest to put up the new building and sustain that," said Orn. "We're also adding grooming now which we didn't do before. Also, before we had only been offering boarding to past training clients and now we're opening it up to anybody because we actually have the space."

The success of the business became even more evident when Liberty K9 was voted Best Pet Boarding/Daycare in the Duluth News Tribune's 2019 Best of the Best competition.

"Obviously there's no way to really gauge the best," said Orn. "It's all a matter of opinion, but to me what it means is we have really happy clients and that's what's important. Clients that are happy enough with us and loyal enough to vote for us every single day, that is what meant a lot to me."

Apart from Orn, Liberty K9 has one full-time and four part-time kennel techs, her mother runs the grooming portion, and her father handles the accounting. Grandpa Leon is the unofficial maintenance man and has been integral in completing the new building. "It's very much a family affair," said Orn.

They plan on helping send two of the kennel techs down to Texas soon to complete the short-program for dog training so they can assist Orn.

Liberty K9 currently offers behavioral and therapy dog training, obedience and off-leash obedience, daycare, grooming, and boarding. For training services, Orn is currently booked until January of 2020. "For boarding, generally we have availability except we're already booked for Thanksgiving. The holidays fill up really fast, and weekends are usually busier."

To learn more about Liberty K9 and the services they offer, go to libertyk9mn.com or follow their active page on Facebook.

 

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