Pro-Train Grads Oscar and Michael Make American Red Cross Headlines

Five-year-old German Shepherd Oscar is the proud service dog for Michael Pritchard. Michael is a longtime independent investigator working with the public defender’s office. and suffers a hearing deficit. And, after successful pairings and training with other dogs from Pro-Train for his family, Michael knew he and his work life would benefit from a trained service dog.

It was a bit of a rough start, however, as he was originally paired with a different dog (Gunner) who had been slated for a veteran suffering from PTSD. Gunner was very attuned to the amount of emotion happening in a court session.  And, while Michael loved Gunner, he could see that his beloved canine was not going to handle the rigors of his career well. That’s when he called Pro-Train founder and owner, Mark “Dogman” Castillero and they both made a bold move. Gunner was returned to Pro-Train to be paired more suitably with another owner. “It wasn’t my first choice, but I trusted the instincts of legendary trainer Dogman Mark.”

Owner and Canine Bonding

Mark delivered Oscar…a recently trained service dog pup, then just 9 months old. Oscar’s personality, according to Mark, was a better match for the daily grind of public service, in and out of courts and offices and near lots of different personalities and scenarios. “At first, it was me who struggled as I missed Gunner, but Mark encouraged me to take my time with him…and establish a true bonding,” recalls Michael. Bus rides, a trip or two to the bowling alley, a few visits to the local Costco…and it wasn’t long before Oscar and Michael were inseparable.

Oscar actually exceeded Michael’s expectations. He was so pleased to see that Oscar would provide “therapy” to his witnesses in his child dependency court cases. Even at a distance, witnesses and others in the court room would be more at ease with Oscar nearby.

He points to the phenomenal training that he and Oscar received through Pro-Train. “The great thing about Oscar is that he knows he has a job to do, but he’s just as well behaved with the vest off when out in public,” said Michael. Pro-Train makes sure that every dog, no matter whether it’s protection or service dog or basic obedience, has been well socialized and knows how to “play well with others.”

Trained to Play Well with Others

Speaking of playing well with others, the Bend, Oregon based duo have found an additional “calling” as Donor Ambassadors for the American Red Cross. Now semi-retired, Michael was looking for an opportunity to use his time to volunteer for a cause he is passionate about. He knew that blood transfusions had helped saved at least two of his family members.

At the start of their volunteering, Michael and Oscar were up before the sunrise picking up donations and delivering them to local hospitals. The duo has become so popular in the region, that at donation events they’ve seen an uptick in the number of willing donors after just meeting the two!

Featured in the American Red Cross Newsletter!

Michael and Oscar were featured recently in that region’s American Red Cross newsletter.The-Beat-Temp-issue-2–color (dragged) It speaks of this amazing inspirational duo, “Oscar alerts Michael when someone is speaking to him from behind. Since Oscar is such a good boy and donors continuously ask to pet him, Michael’s response is ‘sure you can…if you donate.’ It’s amazing to see how many potential donors will go through the process so they can give and get loves from Oscar.”

Of the 10,000 dogs trained through the years, this story is one of our favorites here at Pro-Train. Michael and his family have had six dogs trained in total over the past 25 years. Michael is quick to give kudos to not just Dogman Mark, but all the trainers he has used throughout the years at Pro-Train. Lead Trainer, Saheed Lawal trained Oscar, as an example. And Michael has used the “lifetime guarantee” for refresher trainings with Saheed and Oscar when he visits family in North San Diego. “It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in this lifetime…can’t imagine my life without my well-trained furry family members.”

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