by Allison Fine
In 2021, it is so easy to find issues that divide us as humans. Religion, politics, and race are topics that often have us “pick sides” and spend time focusing our energy on how we are different. Conversely, there are many things that bring us together — some would call them universal truths. Wanting healthy and happy families, loving to eat good food, and the way pets make us feel are all places where we find commonality despite our differences. In fact, nearly 70% of all American households have a pet, and 53% of us have dogs.
Seattle native and owner of Northwest Dog Trainer, Marcus Wright, recognized those truths when he recently left his job in finance and insurance to focus on his passion, dog training, full-time.
Ten years ago, Wright had three dogs he wanted to train himself. He found a mentor in Tacoma who showed him the basics of dog training and rented a space in Des Moines that was perfect for him to hone his skills with his own pups and stay out of the rain.
Soon, Wright, who is Black, realized he could train other people’s dogs, and through the same training-mentor, he met two other young Black men — Ty Clark and Zayne Brown — who shared the same passion: bringing people together through the common work of loving and training dogs. While they each have their own training companies, together they are partners in Northwest K9 Training Center (NWK9).
Wright, 34, grew up in Skyway but eventually moved to South King County, graduating from Federal Way High School in 2005. In 2009 he received a B.A. in communications from Evergreen State College.
Growing up, Wright’s family benefited from community programs like food banks and school supply drives, and that community-based work is a goal for him with this business. “I want to impact as many people as I can,” says Wright, who would like to see NWK9 become a nonprofit so that they can offer youth internships, community events, low-cost training options, and more. Wright says that watching dogs progress in training is the best part of his work. Taking a dog with some adverse behavior and a frustrated owner and “seeing the relationship between them change” is the biggest reward. Wright currently has six dogs of his own, including a 120 lb Cane Corso named Squishy who is often used as a model dog when training. Wright can be found @thenorthwestdogtrainer on Instagram and Facebook. Fun fact: Wright also has a cat that he has trained to walk on a leash.
Tyler “Ty” Clark, is 28 and a 2014 graduate from Hampton University with a degree in graphic design. He moved from the East Coast a year ago when his girlfriend was stationed at Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) by the Army. Clark started training dogs because he had an American Bully named Llama that needed some training. He thought, “I could do this myself,” and sought out the training-mentor who then connected him with Wright. Clark says he loves training all types of dogs, “but I specialize in aggressive dogs. I love seeing the turnaround for the dogs and seeing the customers’ reaction when their aggressive dogs are trained after being on the edge.” Clark has four dogs, including Llama, who just had puppies, and a rare all-black German Shepherd named Beans. Clark and his girlfriend are expecting their first human baby soon as well. He can be found @thepublick9 on Instagram and TikTok.
Allison Fine is a Bay Area, California native who has called Washington home since 2013. She is a social worker, community organizer, activist and advocate for people with special needs and survivors of domestic violence. She has various roles in political, Queer, feminist, and labor organizations. She lives in Federal Way with her daughter and their two dogs and two cats.
📸 Featured Image: Northwest K-9 co-owners Marcus Wright (front) with Guapo, Tyler Clark and Beans (German Shepard) and Zayne Brown and his dog Stone pose in the training yard of their business in Des Moines. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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