Welcome Home to Travis Brorsen

posted March 26th, 2019 by
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Say Hello and Welcome Home to Travis Brorsen

World Famous Dog Trainer and Oklahoma Native


By Anna Holton-Dean


Growing up in Perry, Travis Brorsen was a typical Oklahoma kid. Elected a state FFA officer his senior year in high school, his interests in pets, education and public speaking were piqued—areas that would all meld together and later culminate into his passion and dream career as a highly sought after, world-known dog trainer and educator. He just didn’t know it yet.

After graduating from Oklahoma State University in 2001, Travis packed his bags and headed for Los Angeles where he attended acting school and pursued an acting career. “My parents thought I would just be heading home at any time, but I’m a very competitive person. So, I was driven to do it,” Travis says. “I did four years of acting school until I got my first job as a guest star on ‘JAG.’”

The part was for a guy in his 20’s, a Marine from Oklahoma. His agent told him if he couldn’t land this job, he should consider a different line of work. Fortunately, he got the part and went on to star in other shows like “Desperate Housewives” and “Bones,” along with other pilots and movies.

In the down time of the 2008 writers’ strike, Travis noticed almost everyone had a dog except him; with all of the great parks in L.A., a four-legged companion was exactly what he needed. So, on a visit home to Oklahoma, he adopted his first pet Presley, an unruly Boxer. “I did not know what I was doing at all. It felt like a nightmare; I was a bad (pet) parent,” Travis remembers. “I did everything wrong from putting him in the crate when he was in trouble to yelling his name when he did something wrong. All of the things I teach now, I was doing them wrong at the time.”

He could never have anticipated all the ways Presley would impact his life.

“Presley was an unruly pup, and it was all my fault. After a little guidance and pet education, Presley truly changed the course of my life,” Travis says. “That’s why I got into behavior and training, to help other pet owners bridge the gap before it is too late.”

It was the Boxer’s misbehavior—running off during a hike at Runyon Canyon—that led to the pair’s appearance on CBS’s “Greatest American Dog.”

“A lady ran up to me and said, ‘Is that your dog?’ I thought, ‘Oh no, what did he do?’ She said, ‘Oh no, he’s great,’ and she asked if we were interested in auditioning for a reality show called ‘Greatest American Dog,’ all about building relationships between the owner and the pet. I thought that’s great because we don’t have one.”

While Travis’ first impression was that reality shows are not a respectable thing for an actor to be a part of, he decided to give it a shot and went to the interview.

“Halfway through the interview process, they asked, ‘Is your dog even trained?’ I was like ‘No, I thought that was why we’re here’… We were cast, and each week we barely made it, but I was soaking it all in.”

No one expected Travis and Presley to come out on top, but the pair came from behind and won the entire competition including $250,000—the most money ever won by a dog and human, but it was the knowledge Travis gained that would eventually prove invaluable. Through the experience he found a passion to help other dogs and their owners create similar positive learning and relationship building experiences. “I learned the best ways of training a dog, keeping it short and turning it into a game. I learned patience, mutual respect and unconditional love,” he says.

Meanwhile, everyone assured him a big break was sure to follow as an actor or T.V. host. But after a year and a half with no offers and the winnings depleted, Travis knew he needed to do “something worth something” with the money he had left. He and Presley moved back to Oklahoma where he created “Adventures with Travis & Presley,” an early childhood education program focusing on bully prevention and character building, which is now being used in thousands of elementary schools across the country. He and Presley would go to conferences and speak at any venue where people needed to be empowered.

Travis also apprenticed under Victoria Stilwell who was a judge on “Greatest American Dog.” Stilwell is a world-renowned dog trainer from Animal Planet’s show, “It’s Me or the Dog,” known for her positive reinforcement. The two trainers worked on many projects together including an updated version of “Rin Tin Tin.”

After winning “Greatest American Dog,” Travis built a highly successful dog training business in Los Angeles. In 2012, he married his sweetheart—also an Oklahoma native—Broadway singer Heather Jones. That same year the couple adopted another Boxer, Pete, from the Boxer Rescue of Oklahoma, and the family moved to New York where he founded Greatest American Dog Trainers, proving himself to be a successful trainer on both coasts.

Dubbed “the Animal Guru” by the New York Post, he was also approached by a production company to host and produce a show, “My Big Fat Pet Makeover,” which went on to air on Animal Planet, can be streamed on Hulu and at animalplanet.com, and viewed on many Southwest Airlines flights.

With the successful training business still thriving in New York, and the addition of their son, Bleu, in 2017, the Brorsens decided to move back to Oklahoma in 2018 (while Travis maintains his NYC clientele and travels there frequently) to prioritize family life and a new project benefitting Oklahomans with disabilities.

“Part of moving back to Oklahoma was to create healthy, ‘Made In Oklahoma’ dog treats. Our first line is a single ingredient, all natural, premium beef jerky treat. We partnered with Enid’s 4RKids, a nonprofit that provides jobs for adults with disabilities. [Individuals at] 4RKids hand cut, pack, label, seal and ship all of our treats. Each bag purchased helps provide jobs for their organization. ‘Pete’s Mesquites Beef Jerky Treats’ can be found online and at all A1 Pet Emporium locations.”

Most recently, he appeared on “The Rachel Ray Show,” was nominated for TV’s Best Dynamic Duo for the Fox Reality Awards and was honored with the Humanitarian of the Year at the New York Pet Fashion Show in 2018.

And here at OKC Pets, we’re excited about his newest role in 2019 as a contributor to our publication. You can check out his first article in this issue on teaching children responsible pet ownership. It may just be the information you need to quell quarrels, relieve parents and ensure the pet’s forever home.

And If you see him out and about around the OKC metro, be sure to welcome Travis home.

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