Saying Thanks

As you guys know, my last day was yesterday at my day job. I have been overcome with emotions and I have just begun to work through them. Today was super busy with dogs, cleaning, preparing, and making lists of things I have to do over the coming weeks. I have a ‘to buy’ list, the ‘I want’ list, and the ‘To do’ list. Let me tell you: They are all long. So, instead of getting into how exhausted I am already, I’m going to switch it up a bit.

This Thanksgiving, there is a lot to be thankful for. So, instead of my traditional posts, I’m going to list off everything that comes to mind (note: I don’t make ‘drafts’ what I write on my blog. It’s all on-the-spot, and unedited, so sometimes there are typos).

I am thankful this year for:

-A super supportive husband who loves me and has made sacrifices to help me get to where I am.
-My family and my husband’s family for the support and love when things got really hard.
-My dog for forgiving me for not giving him the attention and training that he deserves. I’ll admit that sometimes when I got home from a 16 hour day, I was too tired to feed him.
-My old job for being supportive and understanding my reasons in leaving. Also, they wished me lots of luck, made me cry, and made it even harder to leave.
-My friends who have helped me along the way when I needed to scream or cry, or just vent and curse and talk shit. Seriously, you helped me get here.
-All my supporters of this blog. I’m so happy all of you are following me. I encourage you to make a comment, or let me know you are reading. It does help on hard days.
-My clients for trusting and believing in me with your dogs. I want to help, and I don’t know everything. But I know where to start, and I won’t stop learning. I won’t give up, and I have stories to prove it. I am worth your time and your money, I promise. Thank you for putting your trust in me. I’ll show you what I’m made of!
-My neighbors for putting up with me and all the dogs that come and go, and make their dog try to get through the fence to get to the dogs in my backyard.
-On-the-go meals. I think I would have starved without them.
-The fact that my husband has a job and can support us if I don’t make any money next year.
-The ability to save and budget. We have made plans and have put money aside for emergencies, as well as ‘just in case’ money.
-Facebook. Yeah, this one is weird. But it has really helped me get my name out there, meet new people and educate people. I really enjoy hosting events and advertising through facebook because it is always such a great turnout!
-And most of all: I’m thankful specifically for my parents. For making me. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for my parents. They shaped me into an entrepreneur, and I have made the decisions and the choices because of the way they raised me.

So, thank you all for being here in one way or another. I feel so accomplished at what I have done, and I wouldn’t be here without all of you.

Heather Hamilton Blog Project K9 Dog Training Utah Saying Thanks

Official Announcement

I am officially making an announcement: I will be leaving my current day job and going full time with my business starting on Nov. 22nd. It is a month earlier than expected, but it is just going to jump start my plan.  I am so excited, and nervous at the same time. I have so many plans and ideas brewing, and I can’t wait to be able to do a lot of my events during the day, rather than squishing everything in at night.

My office found out what I was planning on leaving, and we all agreed mutually it was a better idea to part ways a little earlier. We are all good terms, and they are very supportive and excited for me. I am sad I have to leave this awesome company and all the great people who work there, but I’m excited I am starting the next step of my life.

This is a major milestone and I am proud to move on. I have accomplished so much this year and I’m so grateful for all my supportive friends and family. I have had major ups and downs the past week, due to this decision, along with difficult client situations, and personal challenges. But.. I somehow manage to keep my head above water and keep treading. Even if have swallowed some water sometimes, I haven’t drowned – as much as I thought I was going to on many occasions.

The most recent business challenge I have had was an emergency boarding client. For any boarding that I do, I require at least 3 days notice, the vaccination and contract information to be sent to me before hand, and for the dog(s) to come on leash with food. I don’t accept their toys, blankets, towels, beds or anything else to prevent the spread of disease.  I have always collected payment upon pickup, as sometimes I have the dog longer than expected. Oh, I also don’t accept dogs with human aggression, as that is something I am working up to – I’m not quite there yet.

This time, I had less than ½ hour notice before she showed up at my house, was late for my next client (which cost me $50 because I had to give a discount), didn’t sign the contract, and one of the dogs didn’t even have a leash. She at least brought food and vaccination history, but she also brought toys, blankets, treats, and insisted I keep them. I told her I would keep them in the closet, but I couldn’t let them play with these toys here as I have so many other dogs coming and going. She also neglected to mention her name, her phone number or any contact information, and didn’t tell me when she was coming back. Oh, and one of her dogs was human aggressive. Great. Just lovely.

*Skipping through the week to make this story go faster*

After a week of training, ‘normal’ day work, boarding work, and home events that week, the family came to pick up their dogs. I referred them to a trainer who works on issues like these, calmly explained the price (we had a miscommunication, making the night very stressful) and I learned a few valuable lessons.

-I will never do emergency boarding again.
-I will revise my contract on a few fine points where this could happen again.
-I will require payment up front for people I don’t know or who I haven’t done business with.
-I will make sure the total amount and the pick up/drop off times are CLEARLY discussed over the phone and included in the contract (for drop off times and price) so there is no confusion.
-Don’t get upset when there is a misunderstanding. I need to stay calm and completely stable in every situation.

I learn more from bad situations than in any other circumstance to minimize risk and prevent any miscommunication from happening in the future. I’ll get better, and I’ll learn how to prevent more and more uncomfortable situations in the future.

Compassion Fatigue

I realize why I have been so anxious and shaky lately. I see shelters filled, rescues overflowing, and animals being euthanized for no reason other than there is no room.

My chest is always tight, and I tear up when I see the result of mistreatment. I get over it and think ‘I’m doing as much as I can.’ I focus on breathing and I recover.

Heather Hamilton Compassion FatigueAnd then I hear about someone wanting to breed. Not reputable breeders, but just some random person who doesn’t know anything. Some random person who wants ‘for their kids to experience the miracle of life’ or ‘I want one of my dog’s puppies’.  I hear it every day. ‘My dog is cute, I should breed her’ or ‘I have papers, so I need to breed her. It’s my responsibility’ or ‘I want to make some money’… the list goes on.

It starts over and I have a panic attack. WHY do I have to be so sensitive?! I want to toughen up and not let things like this affect me so much. I want to scream and cry and hit someone. I want to shake them and force them to watch the pink juice go into animal after animal so they understand what they are doing is filling up shelters. I can’t breathe because of other people’s ignorance. I can’t sleep and feel sick. It’s happening again, and I can’t stop.

I have visited 2 shelters this week, and I’m going to another one in a couple days. I want to take all these ‘breeders’ with me and shove this in their face. I can’t stop shaking I’m so mad. My heart won’t stop pounding. I can’t breathe and the tears won’t stop.

I look at Jinx and know I saved her life. Not only that, but I see she has been bred. She has been mistreated and someone did wrong by her. She should never have been bred, but she was. Where are her puppies? Probably in a shelter or dead. Not only It is ignorant or stupid, but abuse. I don’t show her I feel this way.  I am a strong leader, and I have to her show confidence, rather than pity. I can feel weak and sad for her on my own time. She has to learn how to handle different situations and looks to me for guidance. I show her how I want her to act. That is confident, stable, balanced and strong. She’ll get there, but I can’t let her see me this way. She will feel it, and it will cause anxiety, fear, and for her to be unsure and concerned.

These PEOPLE want to breed because a ‘pomsky’ is the new, cutsie dog. People want to make a quick buck off of some backyard poorly-bred puppies. They are sold for hundreds or thousands each. No pedigree lines have been proven. No papers. They are not a ‘real’ breed. Does that make them any less of a dog or worth less? No, but that means these people are contributing to the vicious cycle of life and death. If people would spay and neuter their animals, we would have less of a problem. If people were responsible and did their research, they would see this isn’t a good idea. Do they care? No. They only care about money and making cute puppies.

Heather Hamilton Compassion FatigueInbreeding, puppy mills, overbreeding, and pet stores run rampant. The doggie parents were not given prenatal care or vet checkups for the pups. The males didn’t have proper fertilization tests done. The females had problems during pregnancy because the inexperienced ‘breeder’ failed to provide proper care during delivery. No health checks were provided, so dogs who have cancer, hip dysplasia, arthritis, gastrointestinal problems or heart problems are bred. Puppies die. Genetics get worse, and our ‘reputable’ breeds are hurt. They are have to raise their prices because of all the bad lines. They have to work harder to find good lines for their operation.

Cross breeds are made and then designer breeds are born.  Health problems occur and the animals are bred again. Puppies are given up on and end up in the shelter because of behavioral problems. Then killed because lack of space. Most puppies don’t make it to their 2nd birthday because of this cycle.

See the trend? It doesn’t end. Recently I have come across many ‘breeders’, and people pretending to be a rescue while they are also breeding. It has been quite a lot in the last week. That, with visiting the shelter has been emotionally exhausting. I have to ‘buck up’ and handle it because this is my life now. What can I do, other than volunteer with shelters, offer training to people who have adopted dogs from shelters, and spread the word about non-responsible breeding and puppy mills? I feel like what I do is never enough.

I want to call everyone out. I want to educate and yell and punch someone’s face in. But I won’t. Because I am a professional and have to hold my tongue. I have to educate in a ‘smile and bear it’ kind of way. Even when those people spit in my face.  Apparently, I have compassion fatigue. It’s a real thing. Look it up.

Catching up

Heather Hamilton and Hubby as Fix It Felix and Vaneloope Von SchweetsHalloween came and went, and as most of you know, I love Halloween.  My husband and I dressed up as Fix It Felix and Vanellope von Schweets from Wreck it Ralph. Our costumes were great, I was very happy with the turnout!  My hubs made a GREAT Fix-It Felix, too! Good day filled with chocolate, excess calories, unproductive behavior, and awesome costumes! We had a party at his office, and it was really fun. Haunted House, cotton candy machines, popcorn, candy, costumes, kids, etc. It was really fun.

Heather Hamilton Project K9 Blog Dog Training Pitbulls, JinxWe have had our newest addition for 3 weeks now, and I love her. She is PERFECT once she gets comfortable. She’s super playful, has that pittie spunk, and rocks the ‘place’ command, sit/stays, and we are working on down/stays along with eCollar work. She loves her eCollar and is just doing great. She understands the concepts, responds well when I tap her, and she is just fabulous at come when called. When she gets super excited, it only takes a gentle reminder to calm her down. There is a time and a place for high-energy play, and it is not when we are inside, nor when we are trying to train. We still have some work to, and her biggest issue (people shyness) is coming along nicely, as she meets about 10 new people a week. If I can have people pet her, that’s even better. She warmed up to my family, and they spent some quality time together and fed her peanut butter.  She is also transitioning to a raw diet and is eating a pound of meat some tripe, fish oil, and a raw eggs. She loves tripe! She is a whole different dog than when we brought her home.

Tiny little improvements are still improvements. She doesn’t like crowds, but does great in a pack of dogs. She is starting to approach the front gate when we have people come over, rather than running away down the stairs. No accidents, and she loves her kennel now. She is putting on weight, learning to be respectful, and not to jump on the furniture. She is just doing so well! Again, we still have a lot of work ahead of us, but I’m happy to say she is making improvements. It may be a few months before I am able to use her for work though.

I attended my Force-Free method workshop at K9 Lifeline and watched Marc Goldberg work some dogs using his method. It was great to see, but also refreshing to know I’m on the right track. I’m not perfect, and I’m still learning, but I’m doing it right. I have a ways to go before my body language is crystal clear like his, or before I start working dogs with aggressive tenancies. I’m in no hurry. In fact, after having a few reality checks, and seeing some recent injuries  to some highly qualified, talented trainers, I’m going to take them when I feel ready. I know what to do and how to work them, but I don’t quite have that balanced pack yet, nor the confidence to know how to handle any situation.Heather Hamilton Project K9 Blog Dog Training Pitbulls, Jinx

Napoleon is considered a ‘difficult dog’ because he makes not-so-great decisions when he gets excited. He is a confident, silly, poster-child of a lab: happy go lucky. He is a great demo dog for on and off leash walks, obedience, and using him as a ‘rude example’ because he is a rude dog. Jinx isn’t rude. She has a dominant personality (after she warms up) and will administer corrections if needed. I have seen her correct Napoleon, and a few of our board dogs when they get a little too crazy while playing. She’s the ‘fun police’, however she can have a good time too. She’s calm, but not great with people. Awesome with other dogs, though. I need one more to add to ‘balance’ my pack (though it may be a while) and I’ll know it when I see it. So, we are still looking, but not actively.  If I meet the right one, I’m bringing it home.

We are planning on going on vacation soon (obviously not posting dates on the internet), which is also exciting. We weren’t planning on having one this year, as we are preparing for a change (which I have yet to announce) and financially didn’t know if it was going to happen. I’ll post pictures and post the story after we get back.  It will be nice to leave for a bit and take some time off work.

Anyway, just wanted to give everyone an update of the last week or so’s adventures.