By Heather Regula, Correspondent
Less than one percent of our nation’s population is currently on Active Duty in the military. Exact counts for the number of veterans in our country vary, however, the VA estimates that approximately seven percent of our population are veterans. While people join the military for a variety of reasons, there is no doubt that becoming a soldier makes you part of a community like no other. The camaraderie and work ethic found among most military personnel is difficult to find elsewhere. The sense of belonging and pride associated with being a soldier transitions into the civilian world and keeps veterans connected to each other. Many vets will tell you that serving their country was the most significant honor of a lifetime and that they are forever better because of it.
Michael Pierce’s love of country started at a young age. Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Pierce lived in Tennessee and Mississippi while growing up. The media coverage of the first Gulf War inspired him to enlist in the military as a Patriot Missile Operator and Maintainer.
“I had recently graduated from high school and was looking for a job. I thought the Army would be a great way to earn money for college. I planned to serve only one term, but found that I enjoyed the discipline and the privilege of serving my country,” explained Pierce. “Each time the opportunity came up for me to re-enlist, I did so without hesitation and for the maximum time allowed.”
Over his approximately 22 years of military service, Pierce was assigned to several different duty stations. Stateside, he worked at Fort Lewis (Wash.), Fort Bliss, and Fort Hood. Overseas assignments afforded him the opportunity to be stationed in Korea twice, and in Germany.
“Before I knew it, it was time for me to think about retirement. At first, it was a difficult decision – thinking of all the places I’d been to and the experiences I’d had. I truly enjoyed serving my country and the camaraderie that came with it. Most of all, I enjoyed taking care of the soldiers I was responsible for,” stated Pierce. “My last duty station was Fort Hood and my wife, Lisa, had a good job here, so we decided to stay here after I retired.”
Transition to the civilian world is at times easier said than done, but Pierce kept his focus by putting his GI Bill to use and enrolling in DeVry University and obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Technical (Emergency) Management. Pierce has been a volunteer with several community organizations.
Pierce decided to put his lifelong love of canines to work and attended dog training Starmark Academy in Hutto.
“I stayed at the campus and completed my training. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Animal Behavior Specialist. After graduation, I spent a few months going to people’s homes and training their dogs. Now I have a climate-controlled facility with plenty of room to conduct private lessons.” explained Pierce. “It’s awesome to see the transformation that takes place. It is rewarding to watch an owner who came in struggling with their dog when they came in, leave here with their animal under control.”
Pierce’s training includes teaching the owner to train their dog. He differentiates his instruction based on the needs of his clients and their dogs. A board and train program is also available. Pierce offers a $100 discount off six private lessons for a rescued dog. Proof of rescue, or certificate of adoption, must be provided.
“It’s important to continue the training after the lessons are complete to maintain the transformation and keep the animal under control. When looking for a dog trainer, make sure that it is the right fit – the right fit for you and the right fit for the dog,” said Pierce. “My philosophy is – A well-trained dog is a happy dog. Happy dog = happy owner.”
Pierce lives with his wife, Lisa, in Temple. For more information or to contact Pierce, check out Loose Lease Happy Paws on Facebook, or visit the up and coming website www.looseleash-happypaws.com. Pierce can also be reached by emailing email@example.com.