The Future is Here: Reflecting on the Amazing Year 2023
2023 was marked with amazing experiences here at Top Tier K9®. On a high note, we set company records for numbers of students trained, numbers of dogs sold, number of pets trained and expansion of franchise locations. On a low note the hurricane did major damage to the infrastructure of our Madison Fl location, and I personally lost 2 of my service dogs Uzi and Huey. Both died of complications associated with age. Our dogs pass too young, our time with them is too short, but it drives me to do even more in our service dog program. The loss does not overshadow the value of the time we had together and the hundreds, if not thousands of people we touched in the process.
If I am going on a mission in combat, can you imagine my commander denying me ammunition and saying, "you will probably shoot it all up and then die anyway". Believe it or not, I have folks tell me they would rather not help a disabled veteran get a dog because "The dog will eventually die and the loss will be too great". It's the chance to fight, a fighter's chance that the ammo gives and the service dog gives to the warrior. It's not what happens afterwords, it is what is going on during the fight, how we improve, how we grow, how we conquer our enemies: visible and hidden. Maybe, just maybe, the ammo/dog gave us that chance to actually win the battle, hell maybe even win the war.
This holiday season marked our 15 for 15...15 dogs for 15 disabled veterans. I have never been so satisfied as I was training those disabled veterans through our Academy for Dog Trainers, finishing their Foundation Dogs® for distribution and delivering those dogs to the individual veterans. Getting to know their stories was a life changing process for me. Vietnam veterans, Desert Shield/Storm veterans, Iraqi and Afghanistan veterans were all involved. Ages ranged from 35 to 87 years old. 6 different states: Texas, Indiana, Florida, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Arizona and 3 different charities American Military Family, EOD Warriors Foundation and Forgotten Coast K9 helped find the veterans and assist in ensuring communications were solid. Forgotten Coast K9, Marathon Medical and Top Tier K9 franchising funded the program. The distribution network created by Top Tier K9 Franchising set the stage for this, and future working dog programs. Aurora Colorado, Greenwood Indiana, Bradenton Florida, Milton Florida, Madison Florida and Tallahassee Florida Franchises were all involved. A centralized dog training, human training and quality assurance program at Top Tier K9 Corporate allows for a consistent distribution of working dogs across the country. Each franchise continues with the ongoing support for the veterans, allowing a local solution to the countries service dog challenges. Look for more on this in 2024.
We launched franchises in Colorado, Indiana, Missouri, Florida and Pennsylvania during 2024. We are working to continue to grow our sales and marketing support systems on behalf of our franchisees. Look for serious growth in Top Tier K9 Academy for Dog Trainers in our Masters programs and advanced business training and development dedicated to Top Tier K9 franchisees.
Academy for Dog Trainers
We trained and certified just shy of 80 new dog trainers in 2023. That is a record achievement anywhere in the world and sets us up for even more success as these certified trainers spread the word about Top Tier K9 and our programs.
We are kicking off 2024 with a new course layout. January 11th starts the next pet trainer class and February 21st starts the next Introduction to Foundation Dog Training class. These students will be eligible for puppies from our next "Litters of the Ground" and if they want, can purchase a puppy and begin the Saturday Foundation Dog Trainer classes as soon as they get those puppies. This should be an absolute blast and is the layout of all classes following this January 24th kickoff. Our Foundation Dog Trainer class runs every Saturday, all year long. So, any student who has completed the Introduction class can start the Saturday after they get their puppy...whenever that may be. This gives a standardized training process for students who are getting their hands on experience with a Foundation Dog and makes it so the students do not have to rush to find a puppy, but can take their time and find the right puppy for them.
Other Cool Stuff
We expanded our fleet of dog trucks. We added 2 trucks, one an 8 hole Chevy and the other a 4 hole Dodge. Both are awesome vehicles and are equipped with generators and air conditioning systems to allow us to transport dogs in style!!
We expanded our Milton Florida facility, making it 100% self-sufficient and a solid profit center. We negotiated contracts with national kennels and veterinary service programs to use Top Tier K9 services and recommend Top Tier K9 franchisees to their hundreds of thousands of clients, and we have begun the process of repairing the Madison Florida location to launch a decoy school beginning February 24th, 2024.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
There is so much more I could tell you about 2023, but really it is better to live in the now then to look too long at the past. For now, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a properous New Year. God's grace is what has made Top Tier K9 the powerhouse that it is. Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ on the 25th reminds us that God loves us so much he sacrificed his son for our sins, so that through Christ we can achieve God's Peace and find our way to heaven. May God bless you and your family, and may God continue to Bless America, the greatest nation in the history of the world.