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.

“Mia-May” and “Maxie”


Mia, the day we got her. She’s the little grey and white tabby in the middle/right.


Mia 5 and a 1/2 weeks old

My husband and I had been discussing getting another dog, and we didn’t feel we had enough time to devote to another one at the time. So, we had decided to rescue a kitten. We wanted a kitten because we needed it to be ok with dogs. And we needed to make sure our current dog, Napoleon was ok with cats. So, we started looking. We visited rescues and shelters, and finally found one we fell in love with. She was a little tiny tabby, only 5 weeks old. Her litter had been found in a shed with the mom dead.

I realized the foster had her hands full, and wanted to take this little kitten as quickly as I could. I wanted to nurture her and save her, and give her a home with a family who would love her. So we did! We brought home our little furball and named her ‘Mia’. She immediately fell in love with my husband and became my husband’s cat. Silly little creature! She didn’t even know I was the one who picked her out and did all the research to find the right food and litter and learn about how to do CPR on her just in case something happened. I learned how to give her formula and learned what kinds of diseases cats can get… I over-researched, and now I’m a fountain of verbal diarrhea when it comes to cats (and dogs, for that matter).


Mia, 6 weeks

Anyway, her and Napoelon hit it off! No problems there. Had her for the first night, and she was very shy. She started to get some green discharge coming from her eyes. I wiped it off with a washcloth, and didn’t think much of it. Next morning, they were so gooped up, they wouldn’t open. So, I carefully used a washcloth to get all the goopies out, and now I’m a little worried. She was acting lethargic and not active at all. She wouldn’t play, and was sneezing a lot. Took her into the vet, and found out she tested positive for FHV as well as having an upper respiratory infection. Poor thing couldn’t breathe! We got her on some meds, and she got better in a few days.

Now, we just manage the FHV and she can’t go outside. She could get other cats sick, or she could get sick, since her immune system is weaker than normal. That’s ok, I wasn’t going to let her outside anyways. Strictly indoor kitty! She got better and was EXHAUSTING! Seriously, I thought it would be fun having a little kitty in the house.. no. Not at all. I was completely wrong. Cute? Yes. That was all she had going for her. She wanted to play all the time, get attention all the time, scratch the furniture… and worst of all. She BITES! HARD. Like blood bites! I thought she was a vampire kitty or she hated me.


Mia, 7 weeks

So, back to the drawing board. Kitty training, google, the cat whisperer, whatever helped! I did everything it said. Scratching post (actually 3 of them), don’t play with your hands, plenty of socialization, and make her feel comfortable. I did all that. Nothing helped. So, next steps, scruff her and hold her up until she calms down. Yeah, she just got more pissed, and then when you let her down, she would come back to you and lunge at your face. DEVIL CAT, I swear! Eventually, it got to the point where we were dreading. The one thing I DID NOT want to do… adopt another kitten so she could have a playmate. So we did. And it worked!!

We adopted a grey tabby named Max. He was feral and had some problems. We worked with him and within a few weeks, he’s the center of attention! At first, he hid under the coffee table, and wouldn’t even come out for food. We had to physically remove him from under the table to hand-feed him. Eventually, he realized when it was meal time. Then he started coming on his own, and every time, we wouldn’t pick him up, but just pet him once or twice. Then, he started to like it.



He went through a phase where he wanted to be held all the time. Now, both our cats are the biggest loves you’ve ever met! Mia meows all the time, so it’s a bit annoying still. Especially when I’m not having a good day. I seriously just want to drop kick her and shake the crap out of her until she stops meowing. So, instead, I remove myself from the situation and go cry in the shower or something. It’s better than hurting my cat.

Max, on the other hand, all he wants to do is snuggle. Calmly snuggle. He doesn’t want to be in your face, just on your lap, or near you. This is really nice when I’m working from home, or just playing a video game or something. He’s my favorite cat (don’t tell Mia… actually, go ahead. She won’t care, and she knows it anyway).

Well, they are still under 6 months old, and full of energy. They are inseparable now.  Wherever one is, the other closely follows. They sleep together, eat together, nap together, play together, and get into trouble with each other. We have a good 20 YEARS to learn more about them, but I think we are on the right track!




Napoleon meeting Mia for the first time