Stephen LaVallee began training dogs in 1980, while stationed in Okinawa, Japan as a Military Policeman for the U.S. Marine Corp. During that year he attended the Patrol Dog School as well as the Narcotic Detector Dog School. Upon graduation, Steve worked as a Patrol/Drug Detector Dog Handler with his dog Delaney, a male Collie/German Shepherd mix.
In 1983, Steve began training in the Explosive Detection Dog program, and after certification worked as a dual handler working both a drug dog and explosive detector dog. During the same year, Steve also competed and placed second overall in the Far East Asia Intra Service Military Working Dog Trial with his dog George, a male German Shepherd..
Shortly thereafter, Steve accepted a transfer to Camp Pendleton, California, where he worked as a Drug and Bomb Dog Handler with Danielle, a full brother to his first dog and Shane, a male Husky/Shepherd mix. Steve was also the training non-commissioned officer for a 10 dog unit. This required the creation of on the job training scenarios and remedial training programs for any teams exhibiting weakness on the street.
1n 1986, Steve transferred to Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, where he worked as a Bomb Dog Handler, and the training non commissioned officer. Steve also attended Kennel Master School that year, and upon graduation served as the Kennel Master for a 12-dog unit. In 1988, Steve placed second in the Island Wide Military Police Dog Trials, and the following year, won the Island Wide Military Police Dog Trials with his German Shepherd, Cay, and earned the coveted title of Top Dog.
1992 brought change, and Steve accepted a position at Pilot Dogs, Inc., a guide dog school in Columbus, Ohio. After completing a three-year apprenticeship he was promoted to Trainer/Instructor. Working up to 10 dogs per three-month training cycle, Steve worked with a variety of dogs including German Shepherds, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Boxers, Doberman Pinchers, and the Hungarian Vizsla. It is during his work at Pilot dogs, and later, the Seeing Eye, that Steve developed a more softer handling and teaching style to meet the needs of dogs that are bred for their more sensitive nature.
Steve acquired a German Shepherd puppy in February, 1993 to compete in the demanding and challenging sport of Schutzhund. Steve went on to title his dog, Frazier, from puppy to Schutzhund 3 and FH (an advanced tracking title), along the way winning local trials and high in tracking at the regional level. In a sport where a high percentage of dogs are imported already trained and titled, this in itself is a accomplishment
In 1996, Steve accepted a job at the world-renowned The Seeing Eye, the first and original guide dog school in the United States. While at the Seeing Eye, Steve worked as an instructor and team leader for up to 40 dogs per team every four months. In addition to these responsibilities, Steve also operated as a traveling instructor, working with graduate students in their home environment. This required the evaluation and development of follow up training programs for any problems that were encountered in the field.
In the summer of 2002, Steve established K9 Solutions.
Steve currently resides in East Amwell Township in Hunterdon County, with his wife Kate and three boys, Alex 12, Matthew 10 and Kevin 5 years old.