Business is Good!

This year has come with it’s own set of challenges. I am a generally a very positive person, and try to focus on the good in everything. So, I have chose to eliminate as much negativity from my life as possible. Ain’t nobody got time for dat!

One of the biggest changes has been the hiring of a new employee! It just so happens to be my special someone, Caleb! We have been talking about him helping me for a while, and we recently agreed he would be moving in at the end of May. Well, I broke my foot a few weeks ago, and I’m totally immobile. So, we jumpstarted everything, and he is pretty much living here now, he quit his day job, and I’m training him on how to do everyday chores, canine psychology, obedience, pressure/release, energy, handling, managing groups (daycare), puppy training, etc. I’ve given him a list of books and videos I want him to watch, and we have been doing awesome so far.

All of the private client sessions, pick ups, drop offs, and another client-facing session, we are doing together. And it is working out like a dream. We are supporting each other, and we both chime in when working with the client. I think within a few weeks, he’ll have the knowledge and experience to do a whole session by himself. Right now, we are doing everything together because he’s still learning, but soon enough, we can double our efforts, and see twice as many clients, and work twice as many dogs.

Heather Rose Broken Foot

This is how swollen my foot was the morning after I broke it.

Now, for my broken foot… I was helping with unloading some things from a truck, and it was raining. I was standing on the wheel of the truck and I slipped. I jumped backwards because I was going to fall anyway, and I tried to save it. I didn’t know there was a toolbox behind me, and I landed on it. Slipped off the side, and landed on my foot which was sideways. I ended up breaking my navicular, calcaneus, and talus bones in my foot as well as possibly tearing a tendon and quite a few ligaments. The doctor also suspects some nerve damage. Optimistically, I’m on bedrest for 6 weeks, and I have to stay completely off of it. After that, I’m in a walking boot for at least 4 weeks, and then we can start rehabilitation on the soft tissue.

The hardest part is the mental. It sucks not being able to move and all, but not being able to do the daily tasks of my business is soul-crushing. Teaching Caleb to do everything is tricky because he isn’t me. He’s doing an awesome job at everything, and he’s realizing how much work this is. But we are in this together. We are awesome at communication and working through feelings, finding solutions to problems together, and we both take criticism fairly well. We both understand the challenges of working together full time, so we’ve made sure that every day, we both get to do something fun together and alone. It’s hard because I’m teaching him to do my job. My job right now is my bed rest. Let’s be honest; I’m not good at all at relaxation, taking it easy, or being still. I’m a DO-ER! I always have to be doing something.

So, I have found something I can do from my bed, while still work. Paperwork, update my social media, and talk to people about pawtree! Paw Tree is a natural, holistic food you can feed to your dogs. However, it’s not just a kibble, it’s a complete nutrition plan specifically designed for your dog. I have been signed up as a PetPro for a few months now, but haven’t been as active as I could be because I’ve been busy with running my business. It wasn’t a priority. Now, because I can’t walk dogs or work on ecollar, this can be a priority for me. I can still work with puppies, do obedience, teach manners and place, and some other exercises where I can sit on the floor with the dog. Caleb is doing most of the handling for anything with the leash.

Heather Rose Caleb Marten Project K9 Training Puppy

Caleb, working with Slugger, one of our training puppies

Anyway, we are figuring it out, and as a team, we are doing all our training tasks, daily chores, and taking on a ton of new clients and training dogs. We are thriving, and we will continue to figure out better ways to do everything and how to be a better team. So, we are still offering all our services, and not slowing down much due to my injury, which is more than I could ask for right now.

So, that’s why I haven’t updated much in my blog the last few weeks. Been busy with all this. I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow to (hopefully) get casted. It was too swollen last week, and I’m still in a splint and an ace bandage. If the swelling goes down, then we’ll cast and start the real healing process. Cross your fingers!

Feeling is Good

Sometimes, certain events will knock us down. Hard.

Other events will make us feel like we are sky high and can do anything. And then we do.

And then we realize we are all just people. We all have issues, we all have stories, traumas, and it can always be worse.

Sometimes, you have to take a step back and realize you have to let some things go. As hard as it may be. You’ll know the time to move on, and you’ll know when you are strong Depression Sayings Grievingenough to stand up again and face the challenges that come with being human in this fucked up world.

So much pain. So much emotion. Memories and the stories sometimes get in the way of us moving forward on with our lives. But I can’t see it that way. I don’t see it as getting in the way. I see them as rocks and potholes in the road on our way somewhere.

I have always believed the journey is more important than the destination. And when it seems like you are finally getting close to being there, the road or the conditions change. You face an unexpected storm, and your route is altered.

Sometimes, you get derailed. You crash. I crashed. And sometimes, you never really recover from these crashes. The scars will be there forever. Some people won’t understand why you can’t move on after the injuries are healed. It’s a phantom pain. The actual wound isn’t there anymore, but the memory of it happening is still so mentally jarring.

When other people don’t understand, it hurts us more. All we want is someone to listen. Don’t try to fix anything, just listen to us vent and remember and cry and break down. No one can fix it. I don’t want anyone to fix it.

I’m past the point of screaming, and I’m at the point where I’m using distractions to help me heal. Movies, friends, cooking, games, working out, and working very hard to stay in a balanced state of mind.

Those little things that sent me wanting to jump off the edge before just have me irritated now. I’m healing. Slowly. And I’m starting to notice the world around me again.

Heather Hamilton Project K9 Depression BiPolar

This is the beginning of the healing feelings. 🙂

This thing has been one of the most painful things I have ever experienced. Losing the person I spent my entire adult life with. Going through the death of a marriage. I wish these feelings upon no one. I am generally a very happy person. Being broken is exhausting, and it’s even worse when people tell you to get over it, move on, forget about it. The numbing pain gets so excruciatingly sharp. I have lost so much, I can’t turn off my feelings. What I needed to heal was time and space to breathe by myself.

When I shut down, when I am hurting to the point where it feels like my heart is about to literally break, I don’t need people to tell me it’s going to be fine in the future. I know, but that doesn’t make me feel better now. I want to take time, meditate, be alone, and think. Mentally heal. I was torn apart.

Alright, I’m a nerd and this is totally a geeky reference, but this is what I can relate to. My Hyrule was turned into the Dark World. Everything was the same, but demented. Monsters and demons invested all my thoughts. It seemed I had tasks to complete, even though I didn’t agree with everything. I did them because I was progressing in my healing. I was escalating through the murky swamp that was my cognitive thinking. Nothing made sense. And then, finally, I feel a little bit of peace.

I can breathe, I can think, I can be. I can go as fast or as slow as I need to. I’m not rushed, I’m not ushered into making a decision. I’m me again. Though, I still have moments of the dark world, I can finally function normally and I don’t have a feeling of uselessness anymore.  I’m starting to breathe on my own again.

I look up and realize the sky is blue. I haven’t seen the sky in so long. I haven’t actually felt the rain or a breeze. I know it’s there, but I didn’t pay attention. I can feel again. And feeling is good.Rainbow After the Storm Depression Blog

Reflection of Positivity

Napoleon and I, after a short training session

Napoleon and I, after a short training session

With all of the emotional challenges I have faced recently, I have to keep focusing on the positives. I focus on how much good I do, and I also face the grim truth: We can’t save them all. But, the ones we are able to save will live on with better lives. I have to think positively.

So, this week’s blog is about my successes this year with my business and personal gains. At the beginning of the year, I had set goals.  Goals I had to accomplish in order to make a huge life change. To take a leap of faith, to make the jump. It all comes down to that decision.

My biggest goal was to get my certification. I have been talking to the owner of K9 Lifeline for quite some time (starting over a year ago) about taking her certification course. At the time, it was around $3,000 and 2 weeks long. Well, that means I needed the money, and I also needed 10 days of PTO. It takes a full month for me to earn 1 day. So, that was 10 months of absolutely no sick days, no vacations, and no ½ days for my own personal sanity. I started saving up my time last year around November. I had a few days saved, so if I didn’t take a day off for Christmas or any other holiday, or get sick, or have an emergency, I could take the course in July.

I had the time, but the Difficult Dog Workshop was in June, and I JUST HAD to go. Which cost me 3 days. That’s 3 more months of no sick days or vacation. I can do it, I know I can. That means I can take my certification in October, and to play it safe, let’s plan on November.

Then, I found out the eTouch Workshop was coming in October with another very reputable trainer. Ok, that’s another 2 days. Which means I’m looking at Dec/Jan. Ah man… at this rate, I’ll never get it. And I’ll never take a vacation!

Then I heard from another trainer that the course is a little cheaper, and is only 6 days, instead of 10, but I get the same amount of material. WHAT?!  Really?! I can take it now! So, the plan is in motion, and I hope to get my certification at the end of August! YAY!

Pack Walk 6/28/13

Pack Walk 6/28/13 (Click to enlarge)

I have also started doing my pack walks. This wasn’t a requirement, but it is a success, and I’m proud I have been able to organize this event. Every time I do them, they get a little easier, I gain a little more confidence, and more people show up for them!

I am now offering a nutritional workshop (hopefully twice a year) because so many clients have been interested in what is the best dog food or I’m interested in raw, I’m just feeding chicken, is that ok? I want to educate and help people do what is right for their dog. Wow, another big event, planned. Hook. Line. Sinker.

I have attended a few nutritional workshops, watched online seminars, increased my training network and made some awesome friends as well. I have read so many books, it sometimes feels I’m reading the same things over and over again. But, if I attend a seminar, read a book, or meet with new people at a workshop, and I learn ONE new thing, it was completely worth it. If I learn a lot, that knowledge is invaluable because I will build on that and learn more new things and become an even better trainer.

I have been asked to help during my trainer friend’s Saturday Socials, and I feel I am becoming more and more confident each week.  This was huge for me, because eventually, I want to run these. I have run a small social in my backyard with 11 dogs (specifically picked out who would be able to come) and I was pretty confident (but so nervous too!). I am more confident and assertive when I am by myself because I sometimes feel I am such a baby in this field, so when I am around someone with more experience, I tend to freeze up a little or my heart starts pounding. I have only been ‘on my own’ training for 2 years. I worked at Petsmart and did simple sit/stay training with my dogs in high school, but not like this.  I will someday be as awesome as these trainers. I can do it, and I am well on my way!

Mowgli was here for boarding for a weekend

Mowgli was here for boarding for a weekend

I have started boarding in my own home. This was a scary move, but overall, I really enjoy it. The dogs are kept safe, get plenty of attention and stimulation and are in a loving environment. And I get to experience what handling more dogs feels like in a safe way. I try to only board dogs I know for this reason. Sometimes, I board dogs I haven’t met before, and it can go either way. I had a crazy dog I boarded in the beginning that was a disaster, but right now, I’m boarding 2 that I had never before. Both are sweethearts, and I’m happy to have them! I get to practice some of my own techniques, I get to practice reading dogs I don’t know, and I get to practice walking multiple dogs at the same time. Sometimes this is a huge challenge because I’ll be walking 4 dogs at once, and only one knows how to walk on a leash nicely. So, we take an hour to go around the block. But that’s just it – I get to practice!

I have actually started making money, and even though I won’t show a profit this year (which is actually a good thing for taxes, of course), I will next year. This year, I attended 2 workshops (so far, and plan to attend another) and my certification course, which weren’t cheap. So, I made money, and then spent it all on workshops.

I have plans in the making to get a better ‘dog car’ as mine is really taking a beating with all the dogs coming and going in it. This may not happen next year, but the year after. In the meantime, I need to find a way to keep my seats intact! Even Napoleon’s kennel won’t fit in my backseat.

We have plans about our location for when I get more serious about doing this. Either having a facility on my own lot, or leasing/purchasing a facility in the future. This is WAY in the future, just a dream right now, but it’s something.

The biggest success, if you can call it that, would be the decision the family and I had to make about their dog, Ryder. You can follow his whole story here. He was a very special Merle Great Dane who had an unpredictable streak. He could be loving on you and playing, and then turn and bite someone. Unfortunately, these are some of the hardest dogs to work with because you can’t find a trigger. We thought it was men, hats, uniforms, etc – but, he wouldn’t go after the same person twice, or the same hat, and if you switched the hat with another person, he would be fine. 95% of the time, he was manageable and just needed training. The other 5% of the time, he was unpredictable and could seriously hurt someone. He was hard to adopt out, and we didn’t find the right home. So, we made the decision to euthanize him. We didn’t come to this decision lightly and it was months of talking about options. I won’t get into everything again, but this was the right thing. I cried pretty much the whole week, I was emotionally exhausted, I didn’t want to talk about it anymore, I wanted a miracle to show up on my doorstep and be the perfect place for him, or I wanted Best Friends to take him. Neither happened. But now, I am at peace with this decision and I am still sad of the outcome – it won’t ever be a ‘happy ending’. But, I know he is running free and will be happy now, without having to worry about anything. I had to make this decision and it has made me a better trainer. This was a turning point in my career. I’m sad it had to be him, but I’m happy he is free and healthy now.

Most of all, I can’t ‘count’ how much I have learned this year, but I have really taken an initiative on learning as much as I can, and sacrificing so much to do this. I have also learned so much about myself, and I feel more complete because of what I have accomplished.  I don’t have the constant stress feeling of ‘Am I doing this right?’ or ‘I’m going to fail, what if I fail?’ feelings. If I fail, I get up and try again. If I get bit or kicked in the teeth, I put a band-aid on and try again. I won’t let other trainers, dogs, people, or my mistakes stop me from continuing on. I will learn from them and be a better trainer for them. I’m happy to take constructive criticism and coaching, but please – no need to be an asshat about it. I want to learn, and I can admit I don’t know everything.

I work in the dog industry, a bite is bound to happen. Not that I want it to, but just like working in construction, it’s inevitable. It’s not if, it’s when.

I’m happy, and I see an end to these 100 hour workweeks. I see a light, and I’m excited to see what happens. Scared, but excited.

I can do this.

Overwhelmed

It seems the harder I try to make a difference in the dog training world, the more depressed I get. I have so much to learn, it feels like I am drowning in all the knowledge. I think I get ahead of the game by reading a bunch of training books, taking notes, watching seminars, going to social class on Saturday.  Then, I get one little piece of advice from another trainer. One sentence on a dog I have been working on, that’s all it takes. My whole world comes crashing down onto me. I failed…again.

I work and learn, and practice, and then execute on others’ dogs, and then I do see improvement within a week or so. More importantly, the client sees it. I’m thanked, and I’m happy with myself. This tiny moment makes me happy. I’m proud of the accomplishment the client and dog have made. And then I explain to another trainer what I have done. And instead of saying, ‘Wow, you made great progress’, they say something like, ‘Well, you should have been progress within a few minutes’. My hopes, dreams, and all the work I have done … crushed. *Poof*. Gone. And I’m back in my place of feeling worthless and unimportant.

After this happens, I’m swallowed again by the darkness and I feel small and the world would be better without me. I’m a waste of resources. There are better trainers out there, why does the world need me? I get myself all worked up feeling this way, usually crying the rest of the day, and feeling like I want to throw up. This makes my husband angry, and usually we end up fighting. I understand he doesn’t want me to pity myself and to ‘get back up on that horse’. It’s not his fault, I know – he just doesn’t like to see me sad. But I’m always sad on the inside. I just wear my happy mask and try to pretend while I am around people.

I JUST WANT TO BE GREAT! And I have always been willing to put in the effort. I study almost every day, I try to network with other trainers, I try to figure out my next steps. I don’t want a miracle, or just to magically become an awesome trainer. I enjoy learning about different techniques and methods, and I want to learn from other trainers. I want to breathe dog training. This is so much fun for me… but I don’t know if I can make it in the real world. It seems every single force there is, is trying to stop me.

Why do I continue? It’s easier to just give up. To just be a follower, don’t even try. I can’t face the rejection. Why?

Because this is what I want. And I want to put in the time and effort to make it. I love doing it, and it gives me a few moments of happiness. Those few moments are enough for me to get up, take the ‘abuse’ as I like to call it. The world is abusing me. . . and I just have to take it. I have no other choice.