Skip to main content

Dogged Determination

03/19/2013 09:53AM, Published by Melissa Mendonca, Categories: In Print, Community




Dog Expert Gary Watts Trains for Service

Story by Melissa Mendonca Photo by Eric Leslie

When 41-year-old Gary Watts was young, he had a typical boyhood obsession with dogs and puppies. Unable to have a real one of his own, he began collecting miniature glass dog figurines with his allowance money. His collection grew to more than 500, along with his knowledge of dog breeds and characteristics.

“I pretty much knew at an early age that I wanted to be around dogs and be a dog trainer,” says the owner of Envision K-9, a Red Bluff service offering beginning to advanced obedience training for dogs.

He was elated when, as an a dult, he was able to get his first dog, a boxer puppy. “I made the typical mistakes that people do—scolding the dog when it was something I caused,” he admits.

While Gary’s early years were filled with typical experiences—from a boyhood obsession with dogs to rookie dog training moves—the ensuing years have been anything but typical. His is a story of perseverance, patience, love, and, well, dogged determination.

“I lost my identity,” says the Iraq War veteran of injuries he’s sustained from combat. “Now I’m somebody else and I have to learn to deal with it.” Life for Gary and his family—wife Danelle and 6½-year-old daughter McKenna—is a day-to-day journey through the ramifications of post-traumatic stress disorder and a closed-head brain injury that leaves him unable to remember many things or organize himself consistently.

And yet, his childhood dream of being a dog trainer has been realized and is even supporting his healing journey. “It relieves my stress,” he says. “If I’ve had a bad day, as soon as I’ve got a dog in front of me, I’m good.”

“Dog training is great for him,” says Danelle, also an Iraq War veteran. “With Gary, animals keep him calm.” They also keep him focused. His skills with dogs, honed through a 2½-year vocational rehabilitation program with renowned dog trainer Carl Reifs in Colorado, have enabled him to train a service dog for McKenna that can save her life on a daily basis.

McKenna has Mitochondrial DNA Deletion, an extremely rare disease that most children don’t survive past age 3. Gary has trained Jagger, a tiny Papillion-Chihuahua rescue dog, to detect fluctuations in McKenna’s blood sugar levels. The family sleeps better each night with Jagger at McKenna’s side, ready to announce changes in her body chemistry that could prove lethal. In McKenna’s eyes, Jagger is a treasured companion who accompanies her to monthly appointments at Stanford Medical Center and seems to revel in her rambunctious play.

McKenna’s chubby cheeks, wide smile, deep dimples and dancing eyes belie her time spent in hospitals and doctors’ offices. “She’s got more frequent flier miles than people who travel for a living,” says Danelle of her daughter’s many life flight trips. Jagger offers comfort, security and safety, but just as important, he allows McKenna to run and jump and laugh with him. She loses herself in joyous play with him, and he never turns on her.

Gary’s skill and story prompted Tehama County’s Chief Probation Officer Richard Muench to bring Gary and his dog, Abby, into the Juvenile Justice Center to model compassion, discipline, integrity and consistency to juvenile offenders. Once a week, Gary and Abby volunteer to go through training techniques with the young people. “They see somebody other than who they see every day and they get to see a dog,” says Gary. He has noticed immediate bonds between some kids and Abby, as well as a coming around of those who were initially reluctant.

The family recognizes that illness and injury have been barriers to inclusion in many day-to-day activities with others. However, as McKenna’s health has improved, she has been able to take ballet lessons, which has opened a door to a world of new friends for all. Gary’s dog training business has grown as word has gotten out about his tremendous talent.

“I’m super motivated. I love being this busy,” he says. “We’ve learned to figure things out,” says Danelle of the coping and organizational skills the family has developed. “We’ve struggled with it, we’ve battled with it, but we’ve found little ways to deal with it.”

And while they value sharing their story of Gary’s brain injuries because it promotes understanding of other injured veterans, they are quick to note that it is not the draw to their business. Says Danelle, “He’s saying, ‘Come to me because I’m a good dog trainer and I want to make your life better.’” •

Envision K-9 (530) 529-5465



profile Dogged Determination Dog Expert Gary Watts Trains for Service Envision K-9 Richard Muench Juvenile Justice Center


  • Art For A Cause

    05/24/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/24/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/24/2017
    09:00AM

    During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity. Brew Craft Coffe-Havens Humane Society 1...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/24/2017
    10:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/24/2017
    11:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Redding Rancheria's State of the Tribe Luncheon

    05/24/2017
    11:30AM — 01:30PM

    Join us Wednesday, May 24th at Win River Resort & Casino's Event Center beginning 11:30 am for Re...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Midweek Madness

    05/24/2017
    02:00PM — 08:00PM

    Visit either Wildcard location on Wednesday and get $3 off a growler fill.


  • Weaverville Farmers' Market

    05/24/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    The Weaverville Farmers' Market is held on Wednesdays from 4-7 pm from May through October! tr...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/25/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/25/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/25/2017
    09:00AM

    During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity. Brew Craft Coffe-Havens Humane Society 1...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/25/2017
    10:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/25/2017
    11:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Pints with Purpose

    05/25/2017
    05:00PM — 07:00PM

    Wildcard wants to highlight some of the amazing community leaders and non-profits taking our comm...


  • A Taste of History

    05/25/2017
    05:30PM — 08:30PM

    The Shasta Historical Society's annual fundraiser and social event. This year will feature live m...


  • Whiskeytown National Recreation Area will be having a public scoping meeting and open house in re...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/26/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/26/2017
    09:00AM

    During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity. Brew Craft Coffe-Havens Humane Society 1...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/26/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/26/2017
    10:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/26/2017
    11:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Canvas and Cocktails

    05/26/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Come drink and paint with us! You don’t need ANY art experience to enjoy this evening of fun, mus...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/27/2017
    09:00AM

    During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity. Brew Craft Coffe-Havens Humane Society 1...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/27/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/27/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Ranger-guided Activities Offered on Memorial Day Weekend Whiskeytown National Recreation Area...


  • 53rd Whiskeytown Memorial Regatta

    05/27/2017
    10:30AM — 06:00PM

    The Whiskeytown Memorial Regatta is a two-day sailing race that brings competitors from far and w...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/27/2017
    11:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Brewhouse Tours

    05/27/2017
    04:30PM — 05:00PM

    Want to know more about what goes on behind the scenes at Wildcard? Join us for a tour. This is y...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/28/2017
    09:00AM

    During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity. Brew Craft Coffe-Havens Humane Society 1...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/28/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/28/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/29/2017
    09:00AM

    During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity. Brew Craft Coffe-Havens Humane Society 1...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/29/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/29/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/29/2017
    10:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Healthy Eating and Being Active Class

    05/29/2017
    10:30AM — 11:30AM

    Looking for FREE classes on tips for healthy eating and being active? Then this is for you! Cla...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/29/2017
    11:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/30/2017
    09:00AM

    During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity. Brew Craft Coffe-Havens Humane Society 1...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/30/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/30/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/30/2017
    10:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/30/2017
    11:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/24/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/24/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/24/2017
    09:00AM

    During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity. Brew Craft Coffe-Havens Humane Society 1...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/24/2017
    10:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/24/2017
    11:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Redding Rancheria's State of the Tribe Luncheon

    05/24/2017
    11:30AM — 01:30PM

    Join us Wednesday, May 24th at Win River Resort & Casino's Event Center beginning 11:30 am for Re...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Midweek Madness

    05/24/2017
    02:00PM — 08:00PM

    Visit either Wildcard location on Wednesday and get $3 off a growler fill.


  • Weaverville Farmers' Market

    05/24/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    The Weaverville Farmers' Market is held on Wednesdays from 4-7 pm from May through October! tr...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/25/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/25/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/25/2017
    09:00AM

    During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity. Brew Craft Coffe-Havens Humane Society 1...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/25/2017
    10:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/25/2017
    11:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Pints with Purpose

    05/25/2017
    05:00PM — 07:00PM

    Wildcard wants to highlight some of the amazing community leaders and non-profits taking our comm...


  • A Taste of History

    05/25/2017
    05:30PM — 08:30PM

    The Shasta Historical Society's annual fundraiser and social event. This year will feature live m...


  • Whiskeytown National Recreation Area will be having a public scoping meeting and open house in re...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/26/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/26/2017
    09:00AM

    During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity. Brew Craft Coffe-Havens Humane Society 1...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/26/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/26/2017
    10:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/26/2017
    11:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Canvas and Cocktails

    05/26/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Come drink and paint with us! You don’t need ANY art experience to enjoy this evening of fun, mus...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/27/2017
    09:00AM

    During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity. Brew Craft Coffe-Havens Humane Society 1...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/27/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/27/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Ranger-guided Activities Offered on Memorial Day Weekend Whiskeytown National Recreation Area...


  • 53rd Whiskeytown Memorial Regatta

    05/27/2017
    10:30AM — 06:00PM

    The Whiskeytown Memorial Regatta is a two-day sailing race that brings competitors from far and w...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/27/2017
    11:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Brewhouse Tours

    05/27/2017
    04:30PM — 05:00PM

    Want to know more about what goes on behind the scenes at Wildcard? Join us for a tour. This is y...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/28/2017
    09:00AM

    During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity. Brew Craft Coffe-Havens Humane Society 1...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/28/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/28/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/29/2017
    09:00AM

    During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity. Brew Craft Coffe-Havens Humane Society 1...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/29/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/29/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/29/2017
    10:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Healthy Eating and Being Active Class

    05/29/2017
    10:30AM — 11:30AM

    Looking for FREE classes on tips for healthy eating and being active? Then this is for you! Cla...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/29/2017
    11:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/30/2017
    09:00AM

    During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity. Brew Craft Coffe-Havens Humane Society 1...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/30/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/30/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/30/2017
    10:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/30/2017
    11:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/31/2017
    09:00AM

    During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity. Brew Craft Coffe-Havens Humane Society 1...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/31/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/31/2017
    09:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/31/2017
    10:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Art For A Cause

    05/31/2017
    11:00AM

    LOCAL's Gallery Presents: Art For A Cause During May Percentage of All sales will go to charity...


  • Senior Health & Fitness Day

    05/31/2017
    11:00AM — 02:00PM

    Shingletown Medical Center Presents 24th Annual National Senior Health & Fitness Day® The Shi...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Midweek Madness

    05/31/2017
    02:00PM — 08:00PM

    Visit either Wildcard location on Wednesday and get $3 off a growler fill.


  • Weaverville Farmers' Market

    05/31/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    The Weaverville Farmers' Market is held on Wednesdays from 4-7 pm from May through October! tr...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Vinyl Night

    06/01/2017
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    Join us downtown the first and third Thursday of every month. We are going to ditch Spotify for t...


  • The Red Bluff-Tehama County Chamber Certified Farmers' Markets open June 3rd! All farmers and ve...


  • Join Tangle Blue Saloon and The B.A.M.T. Coalition for Fun Times for the 2nd annual Trinity Celti...


  • Mountain Wintu Herbs Class

    06/03/2017
    10:00AM — 01:00PM

    Learn how to make: Fire Infusion* (Cider) w/Turmeric When: Saturday, June 3, 2017 Time: 10 a...


  • Saturday, June 3rd, The Friends of the Shasta County Libraries will sell gently used books in the...


  • CityConnect 2017

    06/03/2017
    01:00PM — 03:00PM

    CityConnect is a free event for all ages to make connections and become a part of the solutions f...


  • Reggae Fest 3

    06/03/2017
    04:00PM — 10:00PM

    Come enjoy live music, dancing, fun for kids, local food and community vendors, beer garden and m...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Brewhouse Tours

    06/03/2017
    04:30PM — 05:00PM

    Want to know more about what goes on behind the scenes at Wildcard? Join us for a tour. This is y...


  • Redding Community Contra Dance

    06/03/2017
    07:00PM — 10:00PM

    What is contra? Contra dance is the American cousin to Scottish and English Country set dances. I...


Enter to Win a $100 Gift Card!

 

 

Check out our sister publication, Enjoy Magazine: South Valley Living
Wedding Style Guide 2017
Enjoy Magazine Facebook
Enjoy Magazine Instagram Instagram
Enjoy Magazine Pinterest Enjoy Magazine

Enjoy Our Sponsors