Meet the Trainers

Jeakira Wurts

Volunteer Trainer

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Jim Hodges

Associate Trainer

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Kelly Pichel

Associate Trainer

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My wife thought it might be beneficial to get a service dog for her because of her debilitating disease. We started looking on the internet to buy a mobility service dog. It was a long search with only a few results. It would entail one year to get on a waiting list for two years to pick out a puppy and have it trained at a cost of $30,000. She finally found a place where you could receive a dog for a cost under $10,000. This place has a prison program where the inmates train your dog and when it’s finished you have a week of training with your dog. A win-win situation. Everyone benefits from the dog, inmates, and owners.


When we received our dog, it immediately pulled my wife out of her wheelchair. The training was no more than a group class of chaos with dogs jumping around and no one able to control their dog. After the week we tried to get a refund. They said my wife got worse in the last six months and it wasn’t their fault. That was the real reason we wanted a service dog to begin with. They would only refund half of our money. We then started looking again for a dog. We found a golden retriever that was already obedience trained and had a canine good citizen certificate. We went to look at this dog, Aiden.

Aiden already performed far superior to the other dogs. We bought him from the breeder who offered to research a service dog trainer. That’s where we met Steve Welch of SW Canine Rehabilitation.
We picked up Aiden and Steve wanted him right away. I mean we didn’t even go home. We drove straight to his facility. Aiden was in training with Steve for just a few months and then we started personal one on one training program with Aiden. Still not taking the dog home with us.
After a few weeks, we became proficient enough to handle Aiden and was able to take him home. However, training never stopped. We still saw Steve weekly to learn more. Aiden is AWESOME.

He is completely off-leash, picks up anything that we drop on the floor, opens and closes doors, brings groceries into the house, pulls the wheelchair and carries anything. Most important, he is a loving part of our family and a great companion for my wife.

We funded Aiden on a GoFundMe page where a lot of old and new friends donated money to pay for Aiden. It was an amazing gift of love from everyone. We couldn’t have done it alone.

With that in mind, I decided to buy two golden retriever puppies, Clutch and Rowdy to train for basic service work so that when someone needs a dog the basic training has already been performed.

Steve really embraced this idea and was an integral part of helping me train these dogs. It gave us a way to put everyone’s donation back for someone else. We are trying to give back as much as we can to change more lives.

I’m also currently learning to be an associate trainer for Steve in the hopes to be a certified trainer.


In 2011, I was down at my mom’s house visiting. My Dad passed away June of 2010 and we were both having a hard time with it. I was in a bad mood and grieving, and was getting ready to go home. I walked out of her house, went around the corner, and I ran into this sick looking older man getting out of his car. I asked him who he was and what he wanted. He told me he was there to train my mom’s dog. I thought that was cool, and I was curious about training because we had just signed up at Pet Smart for basic obedience lessons, and we had completed the first class. I decided to go back in with Steve and listen to what he had to say about dog training. I’m so glad I did. The more he talked, the more I realized that Pet Smart was a joke. (I kind of felt that after the first class.)

We dropped out of the class at Pet Smart, and I had Steve train my Husky right after he got done with my mom’s Yorke. Steve trained the dogs in-kennel, and we took classes about a week later, and I was so impressed with our dogs. My Husky Sadie had manners, and she would listen and behave. I started taking Sadie over to Steve’s place and training her. I started to work with other dogs and learned advanced training techniques. I started to really like it, and I was looking for a new career. It took me awhile, but In 2015 I decided to start taking dog training seriously. Now I have trained, or helped train over 300 dogs, and am learning all kinds of stuff about dog behavior, and I am really enjoying it. It is tough stuff, but I am so glad I met Steve, and let him talk me into being a Trainer.

Why I chose to become a trainer.

My oldest son, Matthew, who is now 13 years old and weighs 180 pounds, has autism. He “elopes” and is a “Flight risk”, meaning that he will run away from my side in public without any forewarning.
I am a single mom and share custody of my three children with their father. When Matt started his growth spurt at 12 years old, at 5’2″, I knew I needed to keep my son safe when he would pass me up in height.

When I found Steve Welch as associates at an Autism Fair in Fullerton, I was already at my wits end worrying about his safety. My son was 12 years old and already as tall as me in April 2016. Steve and his associates told me they had a service dog ready for Matt.

It was a lot of work at first but once I got the hang of it, I witnessed what my son’s dog could do. The first time he eloped with our dog present, she tracked him and within minutes we found him around the corner. The next time, I was picking up my kids at their after-school program, he left my side again and this time his dog tracked him around a school building and brought me to him on the other side. Another time, my son eloped at a grocery store and she not only lead me to him, she was already on her hind legs stopping him when he got to the end of the aisle he was running down. Another time, while we waiting for our take-out order in the restaurant, I saw her walk immediately in front of my son and stood there blocking him before he eloped. When we got our order my son eloped and his dog was already leading me in a semicircle around him and stopping him before he could run into the parking lot. Once I realized what she could do for my son, I slept peacefully for the first time, ever.

His dog is still a dog at home, she plays with my kids, her toys and loves fetch, but when she is protecting my son she becomes a professional and if she is blocking him in advance, I’d sooner move a brick wall than move her away from him.

Because of this miracle in my family’s life, I chose to become a dog trainer.