Despite Personal Loss, Animal Behavior College Student Finds Comfort in Cat and Dog Training

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The online programs provide professional certifications so students can pursue rewarding careers helping animals

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"I learned about ABC from a few vet techs [veterinary technicians I know who highly recommended the school," Lisa said.

Lisa Michelle Dixon already had a successful career. The professional actor, photographer and runway model has appeared in an array of magazines, music videos and infomercials. However, she also battles depression. When she adopted a kitten 11 years ago, her symptoms improved. However, after her younger brother and grandfather died in 2016 followed by her older brother in April 2018, she struggled emotionally. Lisa’s father gave her a puppy last September to comfort her, which she named Blue. Blue was the first dog Lisa ever raised herself. Not long after that, she enrolled in the dog trainer program at Animal Behavior College (ABC) to gain the knowledge necessary to train her new puppy. The program also introduced Lisa to a new and exciting career training dogs.

“I learned about ABC from a few vet techs [veterinary technicians] I know who highly recommended the school,” Lisa said. “My grandmother influenced my decision as well. She watched me work with her [Blue] and commented that I’d be a good dog trainer. It was then that I realized I could take the Cat Training Program, too so, I enrolled in both.”

Unfortunately, before Lisa could begin the programs, heartbreak struck again. Her beloved grandmother died in October, which deepened her depression.

“I was devastated,” she whispered. “To lose four people I love in such a short period, it’s beyond comprehension. Depression is something that I struggle to deal with daily. Society has made depression and other mental struggles—I don’t call them illnesses—invalid when all emotions are valid.”

More than 16 million adults in the U.S. have experienced at least one major depressive episode in a given year, according to the World Health Organization. Depression can interfere with or limit an individual’s ability to carry out major life activities. However, several studies have found that owning a pet can help reduce depression symptoms by relieving stress and improving the health and well-being of their owners. In fact, in an April 6, 2017, Time magazine article “Science Says Your Pet is Good for Your Health” explains that people who have pets also tend to have lower blood pressure and heart-disease risk than those who don’t.

Lisa has a website of photos covering subjects including art, beauty, fashion, architecture, sports, etc. She especially enjoys taking photos of animals’ faces and plans to incorporate her cat and dog training skills to take images that are more artistic and conceptual.

“I think a lot of my artistic images capture the beauty we find in the darkest hours, which is a lot of what I’ve gone through over the last years,” she said. “The best thing I have learned to do is to allow myself to feel each emotion and feel it deeply. I don’t believe that time makes it easier; I believe that over time we begin to learn to handle it easier.”

For Lisa, caring for her pets helps her to relax and enjoy each day. They also provide solace and a sense of purpose.

“I remind myself daily that there’s so much to live for and they show me that unconditional love does exist,” she said. “They motivate me to get up in the morning to care for them. The more I focus on learning how to train and doing things for them, and with them, the more I find my self-love again.”

ABC’s online Cat Training Program and Dog Obedience Program teaches students how to become professional cat trainers or dog trainers. The courses cover numerous topics, including learning theories, training tools, problem-solving, preventing unwanted behaviors, safety techniques and practices, feline or canine nutrition and business building. Cat training students participate in a shelter practicum and dog trainer students in an externship. Both programs include pet first aid and CPR certification. As of January 31, 2019, ABC has graduated more than 15,800 students from both programs combined.

In addition to cat training and dog training, ABC also offers certification in pet grooming and veterinary assisting. Specialized certificates of completion in seven short-term programs are also available on subjects, including doggie daycare, pet fostering, pet nutrition, and training shelter dogs. For more information, call 800-795-3294 or visit

About Animal Behavior College
Founded in 1998, Animal Behavior College is a vocational school that trains professional dog trainers, cat trainers, veterinary assistants and pet groomers nationwide and in the 10 provinces of Canada. ABC has graduated more than 27,000 students from its four core programs combined. Students obtain practical hands-on experience applying what they learn by working side-by-side with a member of ABC's expert mentors group. These professional mentors include thousands of professional dog trainers, veterinary hospitals and clinics and grooming salons from all across the U.S. and Canada who are dedicated to helping students succeed in the pet services industry.

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Angela Pena
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