K9 Service With A Twist was created to support the growing need for professionally trained service dogs in and around the San Antonio area…and to help prison inmates.
A few years ago, while working for a large Service Dog organization, I witnessed firsthand the awe-inspiring, unexplainable intuition of a proper working service dog. I was at a public access test and watched as a Vietnam veteran struggled to stay calm while he was separated from his service dog. After only about 8 minutes they were reunited, and that Great Dane mix walked right over to him and put her big paw on his leg as if to say, “I’ve got you.” She let him stroke her head and grab her paw while he quickly settled down and his tremors subsided. I knew then I always wanted to be a part of this incredible, magical bond, even if it was just in some small way. I wanted to be a little more connected to the dogs and people who they were saving... because that's exactly how powerful this can be.
Catherine Laria, owner of K9 Country Club and Training Academy in Bulverde, TX is one of the most accomplished dog agility handlers and trainers in South Texas. For almost three decades, she has competed in a variety of dog sports including Agility, Herding, Dock Diving, Barn Hunt, and Obedience. Catherine and her Whirlwind Border Collies have competed at the highest level throughout the country and internationally. They have been finalists in regional and national competitions every year since 2010, and have represented Team USA in the world championships.
Over the years Catherine has developed a keen sense for noticing what a dog is seeing, hearing, or feeling versus what the handler or owner think they are communicating. This experience has led her far beyond the scope of dog sports.
Catherine is also the Executive Director and Head Trainer for the Paws in Prison program out of the Gregory S. Coleman Unit in Lockhart, Texas. Since 2019, Catherine has been developing a program that is focused on rehabilitation and reentry for the women who participate, educating inmates for greater responsibility and empathy through the rescue and training of shelter dogs to be adopted by the public. Catherine and the Paws in Prison program were featured in the CBS “That Animal
Rescue Show” in 2020 and was part of Anifab, the Animalis Fabula Film Festival in 2021.
In 2021 Catherine founded the K9 Service With A Twist, 501c3. K9SWAT was created as a way for her to give back to the two organizations she is most passionate about, wounded warriors who need service dogs and the inmate participants of the paws in prison program. Both groups share experience in having an incredibly difficult time navigating the world we live in today. So K9SWAT was formed to support and inspire programs that focus on a second chances at life for military veterans, prison inmates, and the shelter dogs we rescue. www.k9swat.org