Difficult Dog Workshop 2015

k9Lifeline__heather_beck_difficult_dog_workshop_heather_hamilton_projectk9After an incredible weekend learning new things at the Difficult Dog Workshop at K9 Lifeline, I’m refreshed and refocused. For some reason, this time was different. It seemed every single thing we discussed, every question, every demo, every quote meant something to me. I’m exhausted, but also re-energized and I’m excited to practice all the new thing I learned. I have picked out a few bad habits I need to adjust, and quite a few new things to add to my toolbox of awesome skills. This was quite an emotional weekend for me.

On top of learning a bunch of new things and attending this workshop, I had to deal with my first ever training dog emergency. Of course it happened on the first day of the workshop. I had a training dog, a boxer, who wasn’t doing so great. He started to get lethargic the morning of the workshop, and had refused food for the last few days. He lost some weight, and also had blood in his stool. He was also vomiting. There was blood in his vomit. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving him for a few hours, so I called the owners to tell them about the situation. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a hold of them. I made a judgment call, called the emergency contact, and got this kid to the vet. Pretty much all morning, I was on the phone with vet techs, my client, the emergency contact, and the vet, trying to figure out what was going on. I decided to send this guy home and we would do training when he was healthy. What an eventful way to handle the first day of the workshop. Updates on the dog now are looking much better, but we still don’t have any answers. We are unsure on what is happening health-wise with this guy.

k9Lifeline_difficult_dog_workshop_heather_hamilton_projectk9Alright, back to the workshop, I realized I do ask for advice, but I don’t always hear the answers. Some stories were shared today about mistakes other people have made, and there were consequences. And I realized all of a sudden, that can happen to any one of us. A little mistake can mean fatal consequences. As I have my own stories of things that have happened, some of the stories I heard were worse than my own.  I won’t get into details, but we all start to deal with the hard stuff at some point. I am changing the way I do things a little to make things even safer than they were before. Just in case. It wasn’t advice I heard in these stories… It was a warning. And I’m going to abide by it.

Whenever I hear other people’s hard stories, and realize I’m not the only one who lost something besides a very special dog… I feel a little less guilty. However, it makes me miss Ryder a lot. He wasn’t ‘just a dog’ to me. He was a milestone in my career. I fell in love with this dog, but I also took it upon myself to fix it. It was my mission, and I failed. I talk about my failures. I’m not ashamed. The scars are how we learn. Damn, this was a hard day. Being at K9 Lifeline, hearing about other people’s stories, remembering my own like it was yesterday… just too much. Lots of tears today. I was very close to having an anxiety attack. It felt like the wound of losing him was ripped open again.

I have to remember to put my emotional side on the back burner and buck up and make dog trainer decisions sometimes. One my clients struggle with is unnecessary affection. Affection is never the answer. I had to learn this too. No petting, talking, or food rewards for dogs who don’t deserve it. I learned this a long time ago, and it took me a long time to realize I wasn’t following the “you get what you pet” rule. Now, I love on my dogs, but only when they are 100% deserving. Just because they want attention, doesn’t mean they deserve it. I have learned to respect dogs’ space by not giving them eye contact, affection, or verbal attention until they are deserving. The hardest part is telling people to ignore my dogs. I have started teaching my clients the “no talk, no touch, no eye contact” when they walk into my house. It’s quite hard for the majority of my clients. Respect their space like you want them to respect your space.

I was able to experience what it feels like to be a decoy for bite dogs. It was AMAZING! It was so fun, and I learned so much about this sport. I have decided I want to get a few of my dogs involved in this, and play. Dante and Jinx. Dante loves any game, but he has a high drive, and a lot of energy. Jinx has the drive, the energy, and she loves to bite. Now, don’t confuse this with aggression. Dogs with aggression should not participate in this sport at all. I realized I don’t know much about bite work, but I’m going to learn. I won’t get too much into this, as that’s a whole new blog post!

Anyway, I’m feeling invigorated by this weekend, and today was the first day I was able to put into practice my new daily routine, the new skills I learned, and focus on my energy a lot more when I’m working with dogs. Today was exhausting too, but I’m so happy. Finishing the day off with what I love to do is the most rewarding thing I could ask for. I absolutely love my life!

k9Lifeline_difficult_dog_workshop_decoy_heather_hamilton_projectk9

The Cesar Millan Experience

Exciting news! I had a very rare, unexpected opportunity to attend one of the Training Cesar’s Way workshops this year. I had a strict budget for workshops this year, and my mentor asked me if I could swing this one. How could I not?!Heather Hamilton Cesar Millan Project K9

I went with my mentor, Heather Beck from K9 Lifeline, and my friend Bethany Tracy from Wasatch Canine Camp. I was so excited, I couldn’t believe this was happening. I was going to train under the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan! I wonder what he would be like in person!

I had no idea what to expect. When we got there for the arrival dinner, there was a crew asking for interviews. Basically, just asking about we expected from the workshop. I had no idea, but I know I wanted to learn how to be a more stable, calm and assertive pack leader. No matter how long you have been training, you can always learn something new.  My super duper end goal is to handle any dog, and work with any issue. For now, I want to be able to walk a big pack, as well as to feel like a strong pack leader working with or without dogs.

Cesar Millan Project K9 Wasatch Canine Camp Dog Psychology CenterIt was a very small group, and we had a chance to talk before we headed to bed that night. I met some interesting people. Some of the ladies were even from out of the country. Germany and The Netherlands!! Everyone had different experience levels, and came from different backgrounds. Veterinarians, rescue folks, trainers (positive only, and some balanced trainers, all with different levels of experience), and even some people who were just there to learn more about handling their own dogs!

Finally, the day has come! We drive to the Dog Psychology Center to meet Cesar and learn some brand new, amazing material. We pull up and it’s better than I could have imagined! It is 42 acres of peaceful, serene land that Cesar has transformed into a zen-like dog park where dogs can be rehabilitated, and owners can learn to be all they can be for their dogs. It’s all about balance, and achieving harmony. He thought of everything, and is still expanding the center.

Heather Hamilton Cesar Millan Project K9 pack WalkWe started our day with a pack walk with Cesar! As we were walking, I realized, he was just a normal guy, who wants to help people with their dogs. His energy was so calm, inviting, and almost helped you be a calm assertive pack leader. He made you feel safe without any judgment. He gave each person a turn over the course of the week to walk his pack. By watching others handle the pack, you could see the energy of each person change the energy of the pack. You could see if that person was tense, scared, or not confident within the first few seconds of handling the pack. Not being judgmental at all, Cesar pointed this out, and helped each person achieve balance while walking. It was a powerful thing to watch each person overcome their own personal struggles and get a little closer to becoming that strong leader.

Cesar Millan Project K9 Dog Psychology Center Serene

Serene waterfall at the DPC

Every day, after our pack walk, we went into a tent to listen to Cesar lecture and teach us about his principles and theories. Almost all of it were concepts I have heard before, but didn’t quite GET until now. I had the building blocks set before I came, and this workshop was the mortar to build something great. Each new concept he discussed built upon the last. We had hands on experience working with each section, and had plenty of time to ask any questions we wanted. Cesar spent as much time as necessary to explain it in a way where the person asking could understand and explain it back to him to make sure he understood. I learned so much by just listening to other’s questions. Since everyone had different experience levels, some of the questions were coming from an ‘owner’ point of view, instead of a ‘dog professional’ point of view. However, they were not bad questions. It was really interesting to hear how everyone interpreted what Cesar was saying in their own way. Seeing these people grow, and the light switch coming on was rewarding in itself.

I’m the type of person who loves to see other people succeed, change, and grow into something spectacular. There was a lot of that going on in this workshop. I was watching a few people in particular, because I saw some of my own challenges in them. Everyone has roadblocks preventing them from moving forward or growing. Some of them were pretty obvious, and some were so big, you felt it yourself when they started to get close to the top of climbing that wall. Heather Beck is one of Cesar’s top trainers, as well as the owner of K9 Lifeline, and he said it best: You aren’t trying to fix anyone. You just want to plant the seed. I used to be that person – She planted a seed in me, and I have grown into a better trainer. I will always be a seedling, but I’m a little taller than I was last year. These people will also be a little taller next year.

Cesar Millan Project K9 Sheep HerdingOne of my favorite events of the whole workshop was sheep herding. There were many different types of breeds of dogs here. I don’t know much about sheep herding, so I was excited to learn the rules, what you are trying to accomplish, what to look for, how prey drive comes into play, etc. There were german shepherds, shih tzus, pitbulls, labs, dobermans, pointers, shiba inus, etc. We all knew the German Shepherds would do great. The main sheep herder man was hesitant to let a pitbull in with his sheep, but Cesar insisted. Blake, a nervous pittie came in, not sure what to think of everything at first. The sheep herding trainer got her prey drive up and got her excited, and once she learned what to do, she ROCKED IT! She was the best of the whole group! It was amazing to see this nervous, shy girl come out of her shell and absolutely KILL IT when she was herding. It really made me want to do some herding with Jinx to see if we could get her drive going. Honestly, I would love to do it just for fun, but I don’t know what the herding instructors would think if I brought a pittie in to herd! Bah, she’d do awesome!

On the last day of the workshop, right before we all left to go to graduation, I had a question. A question that I was itching to ask the whole workshop. It had to do with Holly and Cesar’s Worst Bite, along with the experience I had with Ryder. My question felt complicated, and it took a minute to ask what I wanted to ask. I couldn’t leave this workshop without asking him. I would regret it. After I formed the question I was trying to ask, it finally came out as “How do you know when enough is enough? How do you know when it is the right move to let them go?” He said back to me “Well, look at Holly. She is a part of my pack now. She isn’t rehabilitated, but she’s better, and I can feed her, and my trainers can feed her. But she cannot be in a home with children. If she were to stay there, she would be dead. She’s happy here.”Not all of us have dog psychology centers”, I said. “We can’t all be Cesar Millan right off the bat, and we can’t rescue everyone. How do you know?” And he said “I wouldn’t know because I have never euthanized a dog because of aggression. It’s a hard thing.”

Cesar Millan Graduation Certification project K9I didn’t know it at the time, but I was looking for closure. I was looking for someone to tell me it was ok. I was looking for HIM to tell me it was ok. He wasn’t intentionally not giving me that closure, but he couldn’t. He is a humble, honest person, but he is good at what he does. My decision was right for this situation. Still doesn’t make it go away, and I’m still working at completely getting past it. I was able to give the family closure and peace in knowing this was right. That was what they wanted. They wanted permission to let go. Who gives me permission to let go? When do I feel that peace? Why do I hold on to this so much, that it feels like it is holding me back? What is it that I need to do to move on? To feel the closure I feel I deserve?

One of the MONUMENTAL things that started to make more sense while I was here was being a pack leader. What this means, and how to implement it. It’s not about the dog. Ever. It’s about the handler. Are they anxious, nervous, angry, heavy-handed? How do they act in their day to day activities? How do they handle stress? To be a calm-assertive pack leader, you have to balance out your entire life and learn to live in the moment and handle things calmly. If you get emotional, or over think things, you ruin that moment, and you are not being a strong leader. All of it starts here. Not with the dog. Once you can master the calm energy in yourself, you can handle a pack of 30 dogs no problem. This was a gigantic moment for me, as I was just starting to comprehend this concept, but this workshop made it so much clearer.

Cesar Millan Graduation project K9At graduation dinner, we took pictures with Cesar, said our goodbyes to all our new friends, danced, drank, ate, and had a great time. It was a wonderful week, full of new memories, new material to study and learn, and an experience of a lifetime. I am so happy I had this opportunity to hang out with Cesar for a week and learn from him. It was truly one of the highlights of my life. He is a normal person, who loves to hang out, loves food, loves dogs, and loves to help people understand how to build a better relationship with their dog. Now, I can also help people build better relationships as well with everything I learned.

I hope someday I can come back and see the expansions he will make on his new center. It is one of the most peaceful places I have ever been to, and I won’t forget the feelings I felt there, or the things I learned. Such a life changing experience.

Cesar Millan Project K9

Cesar, giving us the tour of his center

 

I’m Alive!

Sorry I haven’t updated in so long! With building my business, the holidays, and taking some much needed time to myself, I am back in the game.

Heather Hamilton blog Project K9 Dante cropped earsLet’s see.. I already told you about my little puppy, Dante. Well, he’s not so little anymore. I can barely pick him up now. He’s all legs, and reminds me a baby goat! He’s clumsy, but wants to run super fast, so he runs into everything.  After the first month or so with him, we have adjusted and learned more about him. We have learned his good and bad behaviors. He is a little shit in the crate sometimes (was horribly when we first got him), but he’s learning and is getting better every day. He is trained on Halti now, and we go on nice walks around the neighborhood every day. He has experienced seeing cows, goats, donkeys, ducks, etc. We are still working on socialization, so I’m not so concerned with obedience. That’s the easy stuff that can come later. He has already learned absolutely no nipping ever, and the jumping up has gotten 1000x better. He is well on his way to making himself be a wonderful member of society.

Heather Hamilton blog Project K9 DogsJinx is progressing in her training as well. She is super comfortable at home, and is off-leash reliable for the most part. We are working on off-leash reliability around people now. According to Marc Goldberg, ‘eCollar fixes everything. Except for when it doesn’t. But it usually does.’ We are finding this to be true. She loves her eCollar, and she is making improvements. Over New Years, we had my in-laws in town, and we had some changes in her that we haven’t seen before. She has moved a little from avoidance/flight stages to avoidance/fight. Which, is actually progress. Now, I want to move her into avoidance/acceptance. As we knew when we got her, she is a project, but she couldn’t be in a better place. We are giving her the training, understanding, and love she needs to be successful, and get over all her fears.

As for Napoleon, he is getting older. I notice it every day. He’s not anywhere near close to being done with this life, but I do still notice it. He has become quite the helper with all my training dogs. He’s not great at social queues, but he is damn near perfect at house rules, and a great example of walking nicely on and off leash. He has calmed down quite a bit in the last year. I think taking him to clients’ houses and expecting a 1-2 hour ‘place’ command has really helped.

Well, that’s it for my kids. How about my board and train dogs? Well, in the last few months, we have had 3. A shih tzu/schnauzer mix puppy, a chocolate lab, and a boxer. All did wonderfully with their training. The lab and the puppy were both residency programs, but my boxer is here for the full boarding school. She came to us for dog aggression, which turned out to be excitement and adrenaline. We have been working on calming commands, rest, and learning to be calm when she would normally go straight to excitement.  She is doing great, and progressing every day. We received some wonderful pictures of the chocolate lab for Christmas. He was doing a perfect ‘place’ with 15 people, and an excited energy around the house. Wonderful! The little puppy came to us all the way from Oregon, and unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time with this kid. He was super jumpy and sensitive. Didn’t really like being touched or handled too much, but was a champ around other dogs. The family had children, and it wasn’t a good fit, so he was rehomed into a different family. However, they are continuing his training and it sounds like it is working out a little better for the dog.

Heather Hamilton Blog Project K9 Calm Dogs

Please excuse the mess, lol.

I have so many plans for this year, I just need to get the ball rolling and take initiative. This week, I have been working at K9 Lifeline for some extra experience. I have helped run a social with them, did some daycare, kennel tech stuff, and worked with a few tricky dogs. It has been a really good experience for me, and I learned a lot from the staff there. My little Dante found a bigger Dante to play with while we were there. MY Dante made friends with a blind pit/bulldog (I think) mix. His name was George, and I kind of fell in love with him. Unfortunately, I just went from 1 to 3 dogs fairly quickly, and I don’t think we should do another one so soon. Hubby and I discussed fostering him, but I just feel I’m a little busy trying to get my feet on the ground still, so maybe later this year.

Speaking of fostering, I want to foster a pregnant mom this year. I want to do the delivery, and rear the puppies until they are 8 weeks old and ready to go to new homes. That is the biggest project/experience I want this year.  Hubby is like ‘OMG NO!’… but I’m sure I can convince him once our puppy gets a little older. I just attended a ‘Proper Socialization and Natural Rearing of a Litter’ seminar through WCC Bernese Mountain Dogs. Bethany Tracy is one of a kind with the way she raises her puppies. With all of her experience in training and breeding, I take her advice above anyone else’s when it comes to how to raise a litter. That’s why I took this seminar: So I could be ready this year when we foster our mamma and have puppies. I learned so much more about puppy development and behavior. I was exhausted after the seminar! So glad I had this opportunity!

Whew, ok, I think that’s enough for now.

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.

I DID IT!

Heather Hamilton Project K9 at K9 LifelineThis last week was exhausting and incredibly informative. I’m so happy I was able to do this, and that I had this opportunity. In my opinion, going to K9 Lifeline and working with Heather Beck and her incredible staff opened up a world of possibilities. They are a Harvard of dog training schools.

I learned so many new things, including becoming proficient in the E-collar and the prong collar. Two tools I was hesitant to use because I didn’t know how to use them correctly. Now, I am completely comfortable, and I can only get better with practice. These are not ‘pain training’ tools when used correctly. They are very powerful, and if used correctly, the dogs will love them! Napoleon gets so excited when I break out the E-collar to do training! I worked on a few bad habits I had with the Halti as well. I had the opportunity to run the daycare with a few of K9 Lifeline’s finest, and learned so much from watching the behavior during this time.

On top of that, I learned how much work it really is to have a facility. Whew! They were understaffed a few people, so we did some of the everyday work as well as learning all the new material for our certifications. It was fun, and educational, and a complete eye opener! I love anything dog, even if it’s picking up poop, but it was a lot of work to care for 50 dogs, while making sure all the interactions were appropriate. Yeah, I’m obsessed. They say that to become great, you must be obsessed with your work. Well, I can honestly say I’m obsessed.

Heather Hamilton Project K9 at K9 Lifeline working with Ginger

I learned more about owner/dog relationships and how that can change when the owner leaves the picture. The dog came in because she was very possessive of the owner. The owner left, and the dog was great. Owner came back, and she turned into a completely different dog. Never seen that happen before. The relationship between dogs in the same household can change as well when they are removed from that environment. I mean, it makes sense, but I never really thought about it before. There were a few dogs who came in who did not get along at home, but each dog got along with all the other dogs in the room. Very interesting to see how that changed once we got them together.  Very educational to see that. I haven’t worked with issues like that, but at least I know how to handle it now if I do get a case like that.

I have all the tools necessary to handle any behavioral issue, but I think I’ll still go pretty slow and wait a while on aggression cases, difficult dogs, etc. I am completely fine with working with happy go lucky dogs, doing basic obedience, teaching calm state of mind, working with puppies and doing leash work. If I feel I’m up to it, I will take a difficult case, but I have no shame in referring another trainer, either. I want to challenge myself, but in a safe way. And I have fantastic support from other trainers in my area if I need help as well.

I had a breakdown day 4. I seriously had a panic attack in front of everyone, and it was because of a series of events that caused it to happen. Me, being there, getting my certification and learning all the new information was completely overwhelming, exhausting, and I was completely ecstatic that I was able to do this. Then, realizing that I have done a lot of work with my boy, Napoleon. But, he won’t be as calm as I want him to be. He’s just not that type of dog. Which made me sad and made me feel like I failed. Then, I felt guilty because I felt he didn’t make enough progress and that I needed a different dog. Which isn’t the case. He’s my furbaby, and I love him, and I’m not the type of person to give up my animals. I had to realize that he’ll never be a super calm dog. Then, I had the sting of pain as a reminder that the decision to put down Ryder was first discussed right before the Difficult Dog workshop at this facility. Which, in turn reminded me of putting him to sleep. And how I couldn’t fix him. 2 very reputable trainers have told me they would have made the same decision. That’s comforting, but at the same time, it still brings pain because of the decision the family and I had to make. I know I can’t keep reliving it, I can’t dwell on it, and I have to get over it. And I am, in my own time. Just… I have never put a dog to sleep before, much less someone else’s dog. As much as I want to say he wasn’t my dog, he had a special place in my heart, and that can’t be replaced. It will mend with time. The experience I had this week brought this to the surface and I had to face it. Then, at our Saturday Social, I saw another dog who looks just like Ryder. He is a little taller and has a bit more weight on him, but same color, and same problems. He was adopted the day before he was put to sleep. It was luck, and his owner is the right owner for him.  This doesn’t happen all the time, and I have to realize that. I don’t want to say I’m ‘stuck’ in these thoughts, but it is taking quite a while to ‘get over it’.

My therapist says it will take as long as it takes. Which is true, but I wish it would hurry along. I’m not angry anymore. I don’t blame myself or anyone else. I just miss him. It’s all just missing him. I miss having a great dane at my place, and I miss his dopey, cute face. I don’t miss his attitude, but I do miss working with him. I had a very strong bond with this dog, so for me – it’s just getting over that he’s not coming back.  It’s not even about the decision anymore. I know it was right, and I’m at peace with that. Just sometimes, I’m overwhelmed with how much I miss him. I will get better at this, and I’ll get over it. Doesn’t make it any less sad, but I have to move on. Everyone is right – this can’t rule my life, and I can’t keep reliving it.

This side of me – you won’t see this when I’m training or when I’m being professional. I can ‘turn off’ my feelings and be professional. I talk about this in my blog because it helps me, and I hope it helps other people as well. I will tell my friends who want to know how I’m doing, my family, and people who I feel comfortable enough with to actually talk about it.

I haven’t broke down in public in YEARS. As embarrassing as it was, I had wonderful people around me, and everyone understood. They helped me talk about it, and express how I was feeling without feeling like I was completely vulnerable. I felt safe.

Anyway, on a happier note…

Heather Beck and Heather Hamilton

Heather Beck and Heather Hamilton

I got my certification! I did it! And I’m a fully fledged dog trainer now! I have to thank K9 Lifeline and their staff, Wasatch Canine Camp, my family and friends, and everyone who gives me support every day. Everyone who reads my blog and makes encouraging comments as well. You people give me the strength to keep going.

As hard as it was, I returned to my day job this week, and realized I am changing my life so I can do what I love. I think about dogs all day, about my technique and how I can improve it, and I can’t wait to go home and practice on my own dog, so I can have even more confidence when I work with client’s dogs. I look forward to the end of every single work day so that I can work with dogs. I’m now offering board and train options, which I am super excited about, as I am confident I know what I’m doing now. I can always make improvements, and I’ll continue to go to workshops, seminars, and learn new techniques to add to my tool belt.

Now, I just have to focus on advertising to get more clients for when I make the final jump.

I DID IT!!

First Day Of The Rest Of My Life

Tomorrow my certification course starts at K9 Lifeline. I can’t believe it’s finally happening. For the past year, I have looked forward to this day. I found out about Heather Beck at K9 Lifeline and the certification program, and that I really could make this dream a reality.

You hear about it all the time with inspirational quotes and people who have turned their life around. Well, I’m now part of that 1% who have actually done it. I have tried so hard to go to as many workshops as I possibly could, read as many books as possible, go to seminars and purchase online webinars. I took classes on things that weren’t even relevant to training, but were to dogs (like my Canine Theriogenology course). I wanted to learn everything dog.

I’m now at a huge crossroad in my life, and I have made a choice. I am getting my certification, and I will be a legit dog trainer. All the hard work, all the hours, all the sacrifices I have made for this decision and the mistakes I have made along the way – it’s all paying off. And I’m doing it.

I am making history, so to speak, as I am turning my life around. I am overwhelmed with excitement, joy, nervousness, and the feeling of accomplishment.

I have made up my mind, my husband has been very supportive, and only a few times we have had a fight when we have had someone else’s dogs here.

The first time was a HUGE mistake of mine. I took a dog to ‘babysit’ (because I wasn’t officially boarding yet – I was doing it for free) for a few nights while a friend was out of town. That was Checkers. (WOW! Looking back at this previous post… I didn’t know much of anything. I won’t change it, so I can document my progress, but not a good decision to watch this kid!) He was too much for me (which I knew after the first hour of having him, as when I have boards here, they are on a pretty strict routine (boot camp, so to speak). He tried to go after Napoleon, he didn’t know his name, he was highly destructive, not kennel trained or potty trained, and couldn’t be left alone off the leash in the backyard because he scaled my 6 and a 1/2 foot fence. Yeah, bad idea. I didn’t even think to call for help, as it was my friend’s dog. He barked all night, and I didn’t have a bark collar. I didn’t even have a remote collar at that point.

Another disagreement was, of course, over Ryder. We got into it because we were at the end of the road with this dog. The family and I had made the choice, and I helped carry it out. The last remaining option was to save Ryder by adopting him. That was the only option besides ending his too-short life. My husband is a logical person, and he was right on this one. We couldn’t take him, as much as I wanted to. I was emotionally unstable and it turned into a pretty huge knock-down, drag-out fight. I hate airing my dirty laundry, but again – this blog is to be open and share everything. Even the hard parts.

Because of this experience, and the fact that I am not a positive-only trainer anymore, I have changed my business name. In loving memory of Ryder, my project dog, my new business is called Project K9. So, for all of you who asked why I picked this particular name, it has a meaning. This is why. It isn’t just a new name, but a new beginning. A reality check, and a way to learn from everything that has happened.

Heather Hamilton Mistakes Bipolar Type II Project K9 Dog TrainingSo, in the last year, I have learned so much from my experiences, from the rescues I have worked with, from Wasatch Canine Camp, K9 Lifeline and their staff, from my clients and their dogs, my therapist, the mistakes I have made, and of course, my family and friends, and my husband. I couldn’t have done this without the support of my friends and family, and the help I have received along the way. I have made so many sacrifices. I miss time with my husband, sleep, eating healthy, weddings, etc. I jumped into the deep end, and struggled to not drown sometimes. But I stayed afloat, even though I was exhausted.

It’s all paying off, and I’m going to do what I love. Thank you all for following my story. And for the support and love you have all shown me. I will be back in a week or so with more updates and to talk about everything I have learned in the following week.

Oh, and on a personal note, I am learning to control the ups and downs of having Bipolar Type II without medication. I have mentioned this before, but with the ups and downs of having a training business is hard enough. Then, add in a mental disorder, and it’s a party!

For everyone struggling with mental illnesses – keep your chin up. I can do it. So can you. For all of you who don’t have mental illnesses, but are struggling with a tough part in your life: Be strong. I know it’s hard. But you can do it. Just get through it because it will get better. Just grin and bear it. Just put on that happy smile, fake it to make it. You can get through it, and happiness is just as contagious as sadness. Try not to be a downer, and suck it up. Yeah, I’m blunt sometimes.

Just get through it.

Random Keywords

Random-randomLooking through some of the keywords people have put in to find my blog on search engines. I have done ZERO SEO work on my blog because I’m not interested in getting views. I just want to tell my story to the world and people who are interested. If you want to read, awesome. If not, you’ll die a painfully horrible death that’s ok too.

Anyway, here are some that stood out, or were super common in the list of 400 keywords people searched for. I didn’t include the obvious ones like ‘heather Hamilton dog training’ or ‘how do I potty train my puppy’ or ‘great dane puppies’ because those aren’t interesting at all, and those actually make sense.

sexwoman, pet gay sex, husband leash training, sex lasben muskart, sexwoman ah nd animal, dogtraining gay fiction, puppy with no money, heather hamilton dog, dog training gay bara, singapore roller coaster vector, can bearded dragons eat triscuits, gay puppy training pads, dog gaysex, heather beck dog training

So, let’s think of this logically. Lots of gay animal sex keywords mentioned. I don’t think I have ever wrote about gay dog sex, gay puppy training pads, dog training gay fiction, or anything gay in Singapore. But, ok. Not sure how my blog came up with those searches. Great job, Google. Let’s clear something up. Dogs can’t be gay. Ok, moving on.

‘husband leash training’. This makes sense if you are into that sort of thing. I can see the appeal. I don’t think I would write about it on my blog, however. I would have to go look through every single post I have ever made to see if I have discussed ever attaching a leash to my husband.

Next one is ‘puppy with no money’. It is a sad world indeed. That puppy may just need to find a job.

Now, Singapore roller coaster vector. I.. don’t even know what to say about this one.

Can bearded dragons eat triscuits? Umm, I guess they could if they wanted to… Not healthy for them, but I’m sure if they were hungry enough, they certainly could eat a triscuit. Man, what are people searching for nowadays? Bored much?

And the last one that is interesting and kind of cool – ‘heather back dog training’. Heather Beck is a trainer in my area, a highly reputable awesome trainer, I might add. She owns K9 Lifeline and teaches workshops throughout the year. The workshops I have attended this year have all been at her facility, and I am also taking her Certification course next week at her facility. She travels to Belize a lot to help adoptions out there as well as spay/neuter and help with vaccinations. She also works with Cesar Millan on his workshops. I’m excited to get to actually work closely with her next week.

Anyway, this post was random, but I wanted to at least write something this week. Just a heads up- next week will be busy since I will be at my workshop, so don’t expect a post from me.

Chow for now brown cow.