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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Service to Animals, Service to People

So today I took the first concrete step towards my future.  Hubs and I invested in my future, and put a down payment on my continued education.  Only it has little to do with the degrees I already have.  But it is for something I’ve always enjoyed, and that is working with animals.  As soon as the enrollment process is completed, I’ll be starting coursework with the Animal Behavior College to become a certified dog trainer.  But I don’t want to work at the local Pet Smart teaching people’s ill-mannered pets to behave (though no disrespect if that’s your passion!)  I’d eventually like to work with animals that help people– chiefly service dogs or police dogs.

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Service animals are no longer just seeing eye dogs.  Animals of all species are now being utilized for all types of disabilities, both physical and mental.  Cats, dogs, monkeys, ferrets, goats, and even pigs are being used as companions to physically disabled people, people with agoraphobia and other anxiety disorders, and even bipolar disorder.  To me this exemplifies a more holistic and harmonious turn in the treatment of many severe and often debilitating health problems.  Simply put, I love how animals and the bonds they forge with their humans can help surmount even the toughest challenges and just make people happier.  

Then there are the police dogs, the bomb sniffing dogs, the cadaver sniffing dogs, the war dogs…   These dogs truly are service dogs, and they are heroes!

And I definitely want to be a part of this.  I love animals…   People, meh…  I don’t care for people as a whole, although I do generally like being around people on a more individual level.  I have a lot of interests in my life– art, writing, music, forensics, sports, horseback riding, my family…  It’s hard to give time to everything in my life that I enjoy, and even harder– for me– to settle on a career path, but I think this is something that can make me happy…

Which in the end is more important to me at the end of the day than any other considerations like money or prestige.

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