One Day at a Time

Emotions. Why do we even have them? What’s the point? They just create unstable, unbalanced feelings that we act on, and then make decisions based on what we are feeling in that moment. Had a good day? Great, reward yourself with a high calorie, sweet treat from the ice cream store. Because that just makes things even better. Feeling depressed? To the bottle, yay! Feeling frustrated? Start a fight in a bar! Overwhelmed? Just throw your arms up and give up on life. Feeling sad? Mope and watch sappy, stupid movies while eating chocolate and drinking wine.. Alone.

Alright, maybe not everyone does those exact things, but I’m just saying we act on them. So, because when I’m overwhelmed, and possibly turning my entire life around AGAIN (yeah, I know. Sounds like me, right?), I take on a foster dog. I really like this kid, and if he fits in well in a month or so, he may just join my pack. I don’t know yet though. So far, he’s shown quite a bit of improvement in just a couple days. I’m on a roller coaster, and I can’t get off. So many things, so many situations, so many decisions. I can handle it, I can’t handle it. I’ll be ok, I’m going to puke. I think I’m almost off, then we start to go up again. And I wait for the fall. When does this end?! Overwhelmed, frustrated.

End of My Leash great Danes Aggressive

Haven and Tank (Boarding School clients)

I also just had a de ja vu experience with a great dane (yeah, another one. This has nothing to do with the breed, I promise) who reminded me a lot of Ryder’s situation. Her name is Haven. She is a beautiful black dane who is unpredictable around dogs, people, and sometimes food. When the owners were talking to me about her, I had a sinking feeling that reminded me of Ryder. It’s been almost a year since I put him to sleep. This new dog had similar traits that sent up red flags and made me take a step back. I observed, I did an evaluation on her, and still had a feeling about her. During the eval, she gave me absolutely no reason to feel like I couldn’t handle her. She was responsive, sensitive, and showed zero aggression towards me or the other dogs. I asked for advice from more experienced trainers, and I was told to let the past go, learn from it, and give her a shot. Try her out for a week. I still had a feeling about this, but it was only because of what the family was telling me. Feelings of … caution.

Anyway, I took her as a Boarding School client, and we started training. Two weeks (out of the four weeks she is supposed to be here) go by without an incident, and she is responding to training beautifully. One day, as I was letting the dogs out, our streak was broken. Over the course of two days, she went after four different dogs. The only warning I had was a feeling I had before letting her out of the kennel. No real warning signs that I could see. It isn’t like I haven’t handled ‘aggression’ before, but this is different. I wasn’t comfortable. And I was emotionally attached, and saw Ryder, not Haven. I called my trainer friend and explained the situation and said I couldn’t work with her – she was too much dog for me. I cannot begin to explain how guilty I felt. Thoughts of failure, guilt, sadness, loss, and how I had let down Ryder flooded me. I was again overwhelmed with a sense of complete failure. I couldn’t help this dog. I have been told time and time again I cannot save them all. It sucks when this happens, but it does happen. I know that, but it doesn’t suck any less, and I’m too fucking sensitive for my own good. So, feeling of heartbreak.

Project K9 Pitbull Foster Dogs

This is Rocko

Last time, I chose to continue working with Ryder, even though he was quite a bit of dog for me then. This time, I asked the owners to pick her up, and referred to another trainer. I handled it the best I could for the situation. It’s messy, and I feel like again – I couldn’t help. What if I had been training for 40 years, or if I was the best? Feelings of doubt.

So, now I’m here. Thinking about all of it again. Overanalyzing. Learning. Advancing. Yes, I have high standards, and for some reason, I feel like emotions make us weak.

So, I’m choosing another emotion. Numb. Let’s try that one for a while.

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.

Drowning

It’s too much. The pressure, the drowning. The work, the talking, the social life. It’s too much.

My body aches and pains. It cracks when I stand up straight. My spine won’t stay straight.

Mentally, I’m exhausted. I’m trying to put in as much effort as I can. I try, and I pull it together to put on the mask of fake happiness. No one knows. Invisible scars that no one sees.

Eventually it gets to the point where it’s all just muscle memory. Wake up, feed animals, shower, go to work. Leave work, go train dogs, come home, sleep without dinner. Over and over and over again.

The mask, the costume covers the feelings, covers the feeling of insanity. Thoughts of wanting it to end begin. As the day goes on, the thoughts get deeper and darker, and I suffocate in them.

The feeling starts again. The drowning. I can’t speak, I can’t breathe. No one can hear me anyway. I’m drowning and everyone else is fine.

photo

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What helps? How do I breathe? Solitude. Extra loud, sad music. My animals-sometimes, other times they are annoying, and I don’t want them anywhere near me. Which, all they want to do is make me feel better.

Last night, I was drained, empty, exhausted, and depressed. My muscles hurt, and I took a bath in my jacuzzi.  My dog laid on the bath mat, Max sat on the edge of the tub the entire time, and Mia snuggled up in a pile of dirty clothes. They stayed there the whole time. At the time, I didn’t notice. Today, I remembered. I noticed.

I love them. I have the night off, and I will be giving my animals extra special attention when I get home. Because I love them. All they had to do was be there. Don’t talk to me, don’t do anything, just be there. And they were.

 

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?

Soothe My Pain

This blog is how depression feels. Physical pain, emotional drowning. You are alone, and along for the ride. The only thing that ends the suffering… is the one thing we can’ do.

Mushroom Soup

As I knew it would, I crashed. Got up, feeling off, feed my animals, and went to work. Got to work, and realized the massive project I had left yesterday… was still there. Been working on it for about 5 hours, and it’s just now starting to clear up. Due to a problem within our software, a project I had been working on for a week or so has crashed, leaving a huge mess of clean-up for me. Basically, it’s a lot of unnecessary, tedious work that shouldn’t have happened.

That sort of set me off this morning. But I was determined to not hit the wall. So, I plugged in my headphones and rocked out to the same song over and over again. It helped. Then I get a call from my husband, asking if we could go out for dinner with some friends tonight. Some friends who are only in town for a few more days.

I didn’t have any trainings tonight, and he knew that, so he called to see if I would like to go. This would normally be something very nice that I would enjoy. Well, being a little on the low end today, and then being OCD, I realized my plans would change tonight.

*Panic*

I wouldn’t be able to go grocery shopping this evening, which means I’m not able to make mushroom soup. I was looking forward to making mushroom soup, because we have a lot of mushrooms I need to use before the end of the week, or they will go bad. This also means that since we are going out to dinner, we are going to spend money. Which causes anxiety… this is where the tears started to well up and I started to shut down.

mushroom soupI kept thinking, because that’s what I do. I then realized that I would be getting home late this evening, and I’m already having a not-so-good day. AND I don’t get mushroom soup.

Oh SHIT! Napoleon! He is crated at home right now, and he needs to be let out before we go out tonight. Which means I have to go home first (which is 20 minutes out of the way), let him out for potty time, feed the animals, and then crate him and leave again. This almost had me in hysterics because this means he’s going to be in his crate all day, and then again while we are out at dinner. He would also not be getting exercise today, which is unfair to him. UGH! I hate when this happens.

So now, all these things are swimming in my head, and I can’t even think! My brain just shut down. My dearest husband doesn’t understand, and he’s trying to talk me down. Finally, I’m breathing. Just breathing. That’s a good thing. I stop breathing when this happens.

Ok, back to reality. SHIT! SHIT SHIT! I have someone coming tonight to pick up something she bought from me. Now I have to call and cancel or reschedule with her. I HATE RESCHEDULING!! I feel like I’m a flake and I just cancel or reschedule on everyone. And, on top of that, I can’t the rest of the week because I have dog trainings… and I can’t during the day, obviously, since I work… oh, it’s starting again… I can’t breathe.

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Later….

I have calmed down now…though it took several hours. I’m getting ready to leave to go out to dinner. It’ll be fine. Napoleon will be fine. My mushrooms will be fine. My husband has offered to go to the grocery store tomorrow while I’m doing training, so I can come home and make mushroom soup. He also offered to go out on a walk with me later this evening with Napoleon (if it’s not too cold), otherwise, we’ll play hide ‘n seek with him when we get back. This is a big deal since he doesn’t like taking care of our animals.

… *breathe*… Just try to breathe. I feel a panic attack coming. I’m trying so hard to keep it together. WHY?? I just want to sit in a dark corner and cry…and eat my mushroom soup.

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.