Justine Borghello, ABCSDT, CTDI, PCI-KA
Certified Service Dog Trainer- Animal Behavior College
Certified Trick Dog Instructor- Do More With Your Dog
Herm Sprenger Prong Collar- Knowledge Assessed.
CGC Evaluator- AKC
Temperament Test Evaluator- AKC
SPOT Evaluator- UKC
FETCH Judge- AKC
Dog Training Mentor- Animal Behavior College
K9 CPR & First Aid Certified- Team Dog Training
International Association of Canine Professionals
American Kennel Club
United Kennel Club
North American Diving Dogs
Trikos Team Dog Training
Barn Hunt Association
Greater Columbia Obedience Club
Charlotte Dog Training Club
Fenzi Dog Sports Academy
Grisha Stewart Academy
I have wanted to work with dogs since I was old enough to form memories. My dad was a police K9 handler and I was always enthralled with their bond and how Shadow just loved to work with my dad. When I ended up adopting a human aggressive dog at 18 years old, I was forced to learn as much as I could to help him. Every trainer I worked with told me WHAT to do, but no one told me WHY I was doing it that way. This pushed me to read as many articles and watch as many videos as I can to learn about dog behavior and Hank is the reason I am a trainer today.
I have been fortunate enough to work with many species of animals, which has helped broaden my understanding of behavior. I have worked with dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, wildlife, and primates, but at the end of the day, I always found myself going back to dogs. Despite all the amazing species I have worked with, nothing can replace the bond between a dog and their person.. In the beginning of my dog training career, I spent several years working and volunteering at local animal shelters. This is where I gained valuable experience dealing with all types of dogs and different behaviors. I then went on to spend about 10 years as a vet/animal health technician, with 6 of those being at UC Davis. Even as a technician, I still always maintained dog training on the side as a hobby.
In 2015 I finally realized that I was ready to pursue dog training as not only a hobby, but as a career. I left my comfortable job at the University and took a job as a trainer, and eventually became the Chief of Operations at a non-profit organization that provided PTSD service dogs for Veterans. This was and still is, one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had. Unfortunately, like many non-profits, funding was limited and caused the organization to close just a few years after I started with them.
I then went on to work for Unleash the Beast as a trainer for a few years where I gained valuable knowledge in dealing with behavior modifications and aggression cases, before I moved to the Carolinas in 2018. After a couple of years of getting settled in, Smokey Oaks K9 was started in January of 2020, and it has been a dream come true!
I am passionate about training and love to continue my education by watching webinars, reading books, and attending seminars. For fun I enjoy participating in various dog sports and earning titles with my dogs!
Bachelor of Science- Psychology
Certified LEO Decoy- Top Dog Police K9
Field Medical Service School- US Navy
After my active duty service as a Senior Company level Navy Corpsman with the 1st Marine Division during the invasion of Iraq, I continued to serve the men and women in uniform, by providing medical care for all operations of the San Diego ROTC program. I stepped away for a period to complete my education, achieving a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. My degree led me to serve with an NGO in Iraq, as the Chief Medical Officer, working with the refugees of Mosul.
After my return home, I became involved with a service dog organization, and was able to put my degree to use. I started as a Kennel Technician and grew to become a trainer, and eventually the Service Dog Coordinator.
Since that time my wife, Justine, and I have relocated to South Carolina
to focus on becoming the best dog trainers and K9 representatives possible. I have since worked in the industry to further my education in as many avenues as possible, both with working K9s, as well as pets, allowing for the most complete experiences possible. Since starting our business in South Carolina, my wife and I both have worked to become the retirement home for the York County Sheriff Department K9s, having found homes and continued working lives for dogs after their retirement form the department. We have shown a willingness to travel to ensure that all dogs that we are involved with receive the best of care and find the best homes possible. We have placed dogs in homes local to us, and as far away as California and Arizona!
I have a strong passion for teaching scent work and detection, and enjoy attending working dog seminars every year to learn as much as I can.