It won’t have escaped your notice that we’re approaching the busiest time of the year. Festivities are upon us – we’ve just had Thanksgiving, and Christmas and New Year are just around the corner.
For the students of Class 51 at the School for Dog Trainers, another momentous occasion is circled on their calendars. The end of this week marks the conclusion of their six-month journey and completion of their intensive 24-week Master Dog Trainer program.
Basilio Delfinin - the recipient of our 2019 International Scholarship
Graduating from Class 51 is Basilio Definin from Tijuana, Mexico. Basilio was the recipient of the International Scholarship program at the School for Dog Trainers for our summer semester. With graduation just days away, we spoke to Basilio about his experiences at the School for Dog Trainers – including the challenges he has faced, and advice for future International Scholarship applicants.
Having worked in law enforcement for over twenty years, Basilio is currently the Chief of the Tijuana Policia Municipal K9 Unit. The K9 program was originally developed in 2012; in his department, Basilio says there are 15 dogs. “Most of them are narcotics, patrol dogs and explosive dogs,” he says. “We have some training methods, but we always say we are going to train the right way. That’s why I’m here!”
What does the Master Dog Trainer program include?
The Master Dog Trainer program is the most comprehensive course offered at the School for Dog Trainers. The 24-week program covers a mixture of hands-on training and classroom work to fully prepare aspiring dog trainers and canine professionals for their line of work after graduation. Basilio did plenty of research before applying.
“I checked the program – it is very complete,” explains Basilio. “From behavior shaping to behavior problems, to doing the police K9 which is the field I work in, and search and rescue. I admire the service dog program, also. Overall, I wanted to learn more to have a better K9 unit in my division.”
Over the six month duration of the course, every student learns about their strengths and weaknesses. With such a well-rounded curriculum, they also receive exposure to many different aspects of dog training – something which Basilio found extremely interesting.
“I liked the Police K9 unit because it is my field of work, but the Service Dog module – I didn’t know anything about service dogs, but it really opened my mind to see how we can help people with these sorts of dogs too.
“The most rewarding aspect was to be working and practicing with a lot of different breeds of dog. I like that a lot because every breed is different and you have to learn how to engage with lots of different types of dogs, like Poodles and those kind of dogs. The hands-on training with different breeds was great for me.”
How will Basilio apply the knowledge he has gained?
With his passion for training and educating both the handlers and the dogs in his department, Basilio hopes to improve the service to the local community when he arrives back home.
“When I get back, I am going to reset my training program. We have to do it a different way – more professional. We were doing good work before, but we’re going to upgrade it and give a better service for our police K9s.
“This has been a life-changing experience for me. I knew the old-school methods and the different ways to train dogs, but coming here opens your mind. It’s been a positive experience.”
The application process for the International Scholarship
Basilio first heard about the International Scholarship on Facebook. “I follow Highland Canine on social media and went on the website and saw the programs they had. I read all about the scholarship program.
“When I read the part that the person awarded the scholarship is going to be outside the US, I said ‘Woah, I’m from outside! I’m from Mexico! This could be a good opportunity for me!’”
Once he found out about the Master Dog Trainer course, Basilio followed the steps for the International Scholarship application on the School for Dog Trainers website. This includes submitting a 500-2000 word essay explaining the applicant’s career goals and passion for dog training, in addition to sending a video explaining why they should be chosen for the scholarship.
“I followed all the steps on the website. I had to talk with some people to get references, and I had to film my 60 second video – I filmed it with my patrol unit and my dog.
“I wrote a script because I speak mostly Spanish so I had to rehearse it a lot. I had to record about 20 videos until I got the right one!”
And Basilio’s final message for anyone considering applying for the International Scholarship?
“If you challenge yourself and you’re really open-minded, go ahead and do it. I encourage everybody that wants to be a part of the program to apply and follow the steps. Keep going and have faith in what you’re doing!”