Dog Eat Dog Trainer

(photo by Battle Buddy)

(photo by Battle Buddy)

I absolutely love this photo! This embodies everything I eventually want my career to be— training good dogs to help good people!  And this weekend I started the next step in the journey.  Not all that long ago, my sister told me she was in school online to become a dog trainer.  When I realized how easy it was (not necessarily the studying part, but the enrollment and access to materials, etc,), I talked it over with hubby and decided to go for it, taking the first concrete step toward a career goal that I’ve taken since graduating college (and having abysmal luck getting a job in my fields of study.)

Recently, I finished all of my academic coursework and on Saturday I had the first training session of my externship.

I had spoken with my trainer on the phone for a while a week or two before so we could work out a schedule and she could tell me what I should bring.  She had a short list of her preferable tools–  three different sized quick-clip martingale collars, a leather leash, and different types of treats for different “grade” rewards.  The collars I ordered arrived within two days of being ordered, but I was disturbed to discover how expensive the leather leashes are, (and my loyal readers know I’m pretty damn poor, and not just ramen noodle college poor.   I decided to take a regular nylon leash in the meantime, while I scouted around online for a decent priced leash to fit my needs.  The first dog we worked with showed me the reason why I will be paying good money for a good, wide leather leash.  Harold was a large (although not overly large) black and white dog with an interesting double dew-claw.  He was sweet, and easy to food lure into basic “sit” and “down” positions–  a great first dog for me to learn and practice on…   But he was also a bit excited, and deceptively strong.  I wasn’t expecting it, and when I first pulled him out of his kennel, he practically zipped the skin off my palms with that stupid nylon leash!  My trainer and I actually ended up double leashing him for added control.

Anyway, my trainer was also really cool.  Not only was she nice and easy to work with, but she also encouraged me to ask her questions and bring up any ways that my coursework teachings might differ from her methods (which is often the case, as although many of the main tenets are the same, every trainer has their own style.)  What’s even cooler is that in addition to her dog training business and her affiliation with ABC, she is part of an organization that trains service dogs for autistic children!

Despite the chilly day and unforgiving wind, I ended up having a great time and look forward to my next lesson.

As an added bonus, I received an email from my trainer saying that she also enjoyed our session and that it was “nice to have a student who has natural ability.”  Color me tickled!

Hopefully, as the next few months progress, I will have some interesting stories about my experiences for you guys!  In fact, I’m almost sure I will!

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Low Blow…and Not in the Good Way

I really hate to admit when someone gets under my skin…especially if it’s someone who is unimportant to me in the grand scheme of things.  But after a Facebook “conversation” that devolved rapidly into mud slinging, I got to thinking about it, and discussing it with friends, I decided to write a little bit about it.

Aside from being irritated and disappointed by the fact that it seems many people are no longer capable of having a conversation with anyone who does not agree with or validate their own point of view, I am so fucking tired of people judging me based on my life choices.

Tyler Durden said it best: “You are not your job.”

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I guess some people do identify with their jobs, especially if their line of work is a career, rather than just a “job…”   And especially if their career is one that corresponds with their hobbies or pleasures.  For instance, writers likely internalize their career as a part of their personality; cashiers likely do not.

At this time in my life I have found myself in role I hadn’t necessarily foreseen when I was growing up.  I am a stay at home mom.  That’s right.  I said it.  I have a double degree from a University college and I stay home and watch my kid.  And I think it’s awesome!  Sure, I have put off my own career for a bit (however, I am considering going back to school soon.)

What really galls me though is the ever-widening gulf between “women like me” and the opposite extreme of career women.  Aside from the backhanded “advice” I have received from a few of my friends and family about how I “have a degree but haven’t done anything with it,” there often seems to be a sort of implicit judgment that because I do not work outside the home right now, I can’t possibly find my life fulfilling, let alone be a productive member of society.  Today, I regret to say someone I once considered a friend (in high school) attacked me personally when I dared to weigh in on the subject of women in the work place.  Flat out told me to come back to the conversation when I got out in the real world.

What I want to know is…what makes her world more real than mine?

What about the fact that I have a family (and a child with whom I am lucky enough to be able to stay home, during the precious and  formative years of her life) makes me less qualified to have an opinion?

What about the fact that she is single and has a career makes her superior to me, or more informed than me?  I have worked.  I don’t live in a hole in the ground.  I even happen to be a woman.  (Imagine that.)

This world takes all sorts to go around.  Not everyone can be a high-powered business executive.  Not everyone wants to.  Furthermore, projecting your own bitterness or insecurity about your life onto someone innocent is not cool.

Basically, my message for today is two-fold:

1) Think before you type speak.  Even if you think your words are benign or you “mean well,” that does not give you license to judge someone else for their life’s choices, especially when they don’t impact you.  If you really care about and respect the person to which you are speaking, you don’t want to hurt their feelings or insult them.   Even if you don’t know them (ie: random people or mutual friends on social media,) how about remembering some basic fucking manners???

2) If you are one of those people who does believe you are somehow superior to someone else because of your life choices (or theirs,) please do them a favor and take their name out of your phone.  Take them off your Facebook “friends” list.  Don’t mail them any Christmas cards.  They don’t need you in their life, and, since you clearly have your life “together” enough to judge your friend’s, you don’t need them in yours either.  

I think these two principals could conceivably have very wide applications.  Religion, sexuality, appearance, parenting styles. Just about anything you can think of… I might even go so far as to say they’re genius. 😉

And if all else fails…

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DP: Helpless? I Don’t Think So!

The DP Challenge for today is sort of ironic:

Helplessness: that dull, sick feeling of not being the one at the reins. When did you last feel like that –- and what did you do about it?

It’s irony is two-fold in that I have felt sort of helpless about my life for a while.  Please understand, I am not unhappy with my life.  I have a wonderful, hard-working, good-looking hubby and a beautiful, intelligent, and sweet two year old girl.  I wouldn’t trade them for anything…  and yet, other aspects of my life have been suffering for a while, for many reasons.

I’d say the root of this is probably the unpleasant shock that came when I graduated from college in 2005 with a double degree… and could not get a job.   Getting a job was like getting credit in a way.  If you don’t have credit, you can’t get credit.  Similarly, there are so many people in the job market today that even in specialized positions, employers feel they have a wide sea of eager fish to choose from.  We eagerly await their return calls, while they have their choice of prospect after prospect in a revolving door of interviews.  Also, they want education.  They want that little piece of paper that says you went to school for at least for years and your education is specialized in this or that.  But…

They also want job experience.  I worked my way full time and went to school part-time, and I worked part time and to school full-time, and I’m sure variations of the two.  But my job was at a mortgage company– read: not my desired career field.  So when exactly, after working in the day and then going off to school in the evening, or visa versa, was I supposed to have time to intern for job experience.  I had my own apartment, no roommates, bills to pay.

Also, turns out my majors were not well thought out.  Turns out, to get a decent job in Psychology, you pretty much need a Master’s degree, and to work in a specialized field in Criminal Justice, it’s usually advised that you walk a beat.

Maybe my counselor in the Student Aid office should have mentioned some of this stuff when she was suggesting I declare a double major.  Just saying.

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Maybe you should have planned better and got a job in your career field, you may say.

To which I would answer either 1) How, with no education?  or

2) Hindsight is 20/20.  Should I continue to pay for making ill-informed or uninformed choices forever?

But alas, I digress…  The point is, suffice it to say, I only had a general idea of what I might want to do.  It’s moot now anyway, because I don’t think I could stomach the job I initially dreamed of having, a criminal profiling job.  I’ve become too sensitive.

And despite having a fulfilling home life, my “career” has fallen by the wayside.

I also have long had aspirations of writing novels as well, but have never been able to complete a novel length manuscript (see my post on writer’s block.)

I have also long wanted to work with animals.

I have a lot of interests and a little experience with a lot of things.  In other words, I know a little about a lot.

Do you see my problem here?  My goals are many and thus I have not given 100% to any of them.  There’s also the money problem.  I haven’t held another full time, career type position since my three and a half year stint at the mortgage company.  Not for lack of trying.  Just a no-go.  So we don’t really have extra money now, even for me to invest in myself.  Similarly, hubby has some ideas of his own he  may or may not decide to pursue.

Well, this brings me to the second reason the DP Challenge for today is sort of ironic.  I have been entertaining the idea for a while that I would love to work either in animal control or with police and service dogs.

Yesterday, I found out my sister is going to school to work with dogs.  I talked to her on the phone today and she offered to send the info about her program.  I am excited, but I am already thinking of all the reasons this won’t work out for me.

I won’t have the money for the program; I won’t have the time; There’s no one to watch the baby if I have to go to classes while hubby is at work; Will hubby be upset if I want to go to school and he still hasn’t gotten to?

But this could be the first step in me “taking the reins back” on my professional life, so to speak.  I also tend to vacillate between being hopeful and being pessimistic about my career situation, and so maybe I need to put a cork in the negativity and, you know… like Nike says, Just do it! Swish!