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.

Facing the Day with Confidence

I just read Naughty Dogge‘s article about how trainers need to learn to not be indecisive. Which, I agree with. Hesitation, or lack of confidence is something that can actually cause a lot of problems. If you hesitate while training a dog to ‘Sit’, it is not nearly as damaging as if you are indecisive with an aggressive dog. However, in either situation, you just missed an opportunity, or put someone at risk.

I may not know everything, and I know I have a lot to learn. But at the same time, I present myself with confidence. I can admit I was wrong, and that I made a mistake. I learn from those mistakes. It is very easy for me to stop and think ‘I can’t do this. I shouldn’t even call myself a trainer.’ But I am. I am inexperienced compared to some people who have been working with dogs for 10 years. However, I have drive. I want to learn, and I am building my clientele while I am also working full time. I am planning on going to school in July to obtain my certification, so I can be ‘more legit’.

I am excited, and nervous of making mistakes. But I can pick myself up and face another day. I do this… every day. I make mistakes, and I struggle with making the right decision. Sometimes, it’s not the right decision. But at least I made a choice at all. I’m doing this. I’m not waiting ‘for the right time’, ‘for the money’, or ‘for an opportunity’. I’m doing it. I’m living it, and I’m making it happen.

I have confidence, and I don’t struggle with being indecisive. I make decisions quickly, and I am prepared for when a dog throws me a curveball. Which has happened, and recently. I won’t give up, and I will face every challenge head-on. I might be confused, and I may have to take a step back to look at the bigger picture. But believe me: I’m not giving up. I won’t.

Distracted Day

 

distracted

Today, I just feel distracted… I start working on something, and then I get pulled into something else. Or, I get distracted because of a phone call, an email, a text, facebook, or another work-related something.

I keep thinking about dogs. Haha, I’m always thinking about dogs. But today, I was excited about seeing one of my long-term doggie clients. He was recently neutered, so I was excited to see how his behavior is now. I haven’t seen him in a few weeks, so I also wanted to see he was progressing without me. I normally get to accompany him and his human-momma to class on Saturdays, but I won’t be able to attend this weekend. Rarely happens, but a series of different events led up to this moment. See? Now I’m thinking about the social this weekend.

**And then my coworker got my attention by making colonoscopy jokes. Ok, back to dogs.***

great-dane-puppy

Super cute dane puppy picture I found

My husband and I have been discussing getting a second dog, on and off really, for quite some time. We are ready, and then something financial happens. Or we are 100% on board, and then the dog gets adopted before we get there.  The puppy fell through (see my post on Great Dane Breeding), and I’m still disappointed. Though, I would much rather rescue anyway, instead of buy.

So, we are just putting it on the back burner, and letting it happen when it happens. Yes, I will continue looking, but it seems I just get my heart broken every time. I want to have a dog throughout its whole life. Go through the puppy stages, adolescence, adult stage, senior, and then make the final decision to terminate life when the time comes. I want to be there every step of the way, and be there the whole time. Someday… someday.

So, let’s do some self-searching, and talk about feelings again. Right now, in this moment:

-Distracted
-Sad, it’s an underlying constant
-No Motivation (not sure if this is a feeling, but meh). This started last night.
-Excited !!

Oh yeah! I’m babysitting a trainer friend’s dog this weekend, and he’s coming tonight. I’m excited for a few reasons.
1) Having a second dog over the weekend. That’s always fun for me.
2) Napoleon gets a playmate.
3) He’s a pittie, and I love this breed. Since he’s not my dog, I’ll say his name is ‘Dawg’
4) He’s a ‘teacher’ and will help Napoleon learn what is acceptable and what is not.

I’ll post about our adventures over the weekend on Monday. Oh, back to my emotion list…

-Nervous (About the cats and Dawg)
-Tired, I always feel tired these days
-Worried (My hubby is sick today and about money-constant)
-Annoyed at all the spam emails I have

Well, I think that sums it up for this exact moment in time. How is your day going?