Testimonial - Officer Seth O'Brien

I should admit that my testimonial will be biased because I consider Erich Grasso one of my few, very close friends.  This relationship began over seven years ago when I asked the vet for a reference for a “dog trainer” who could assist me with my then 10-week-old German Shepherd. The girl at the desk handed me a business card and said, “Trust me, don’t call anyone else.” Thank God I took her advice.

When I first met him, I immediately knew I was in good hands as I watched himinteract and appear to effortlessly “connect” with my pup.   The real test came a few months later when my wife threatened to get rid of the dog if he didn’t stop chasing and trying to eat the cat.  So, I called Erich about this new problem and one session later Erich had taught my puppy to stop chasing the cat, but more importantly, taught my wife and me how to reinforce this behavior ourselves.  It was then that I became a believer in Erich Grasso and I knew I had met the real dog whisperer, before that other guy ever appeared on TV.

As my knowledge and passion for working line German Shepherds grew so did my passion for training these dogs.  Erich, being a generous and loyal friend, began inviting me and my dog to observe him during group training of his private clients as well as assisting members of the Bridgeport Police Dept. K-9 Unit.  As the years passed, Erich continued to teach me about training working dogs while I (attempted) to teach him about proper eating habits and the importance of regular exercise.  We would joke and wonder about how we might be able to work more frequently together, possibly incorporating dog training with exercise.

Then, in 2009, I was able to call Erich and inform him that I had been chosen as one of two officers tasked with re-implementing the city of Stamford Police Department’s K-9 Unit, which hadn’t existed for 25 years. Erich began providing support in that endeavor from the first day.  Erich sacrificed countless hours of his personal time so that he could attend and observe the majority of our Basic Patrol/Narcotics detection handler’s course.  His support and training advice continued after graduation and Erich, as only he can do, helped me resolve issues with my K-9 that couldn’t be resolved in class. 

Erich remains intimately involved, still sacrificing countless hours of his time, as a trainer of our unit.  He continues to provide guidance and assist me in my role as the unit’s training coordinator and he regularly rides together with me, as my civilian partner, experiencing the practical “street” application of the Police Service Dogs that he has helped train.
Just when I thought Erich Grasso couldn’t be any more of a thoughtful, selfless friend, I was proven wrong.  In June of 2011, after just two short years, I was forced to retire my K-9 partner Stoki, due to a genetic spinal disease.  Approximately two weeks after this decision was made I received an early morning phone call from Erich.

“Seth, I couldn’t sleep.  I woke up and realized that I might have the perfect dog for you.”
That was the message left at 6 a.m. that morning.  Thankfully, with the support of the unit supervisor and police chief we acquired K-9 Cooper from Erich.  Instead of selling this incredible dog to another police department, Erich donated him to me and our unit. Now, six months later Erich, Sgt. Frank Reda (Norwalk P.D.) and I have been able to fully train K-9 Cooper and he and I have successfully certified as a K-9 team on both the state and national level.

So, what more can I say about Erich’s dog training abilities? Gifted, natural talent and insightful barely scratches the surface. Not only can he observe each dog and assess its individual strengths and weaknesses, but he then assesses the dog owner/handler as individuals.  Simultaneously, he is assessing how dog and handler interacts as a team.  Finally, after closely observing the specific situation, problem or training scenario at hand, he devises an individualized solution.   

In my opinion, that is the key to Erich Grasso’s success.  Relentless commitment to understanding the individual K-9 team and an open mind that always allows his training methods to evolve even when his success would cause one to believe there is no need for change.

I will never be able to thank Erich enough for all that he has provided me over the years. So, I will say it again, THANK YOU Erich!   Officer Seth O'Brien