Kodak Moments in the Life of a Dog Trainer

Today is March 23rd and 44 years ago at 11:11 AM I apparently entered the world in a hurry, at least according to my mom who tells me she barely made it to the hospital. For those who know me on a personal level it is probably no surprise to hear I was moving with intent, after all I am a Malinois at heart. 🙂

But this past weekend I slowed down enough to spend some time with old friends and meet new ones at the IACP conference in Texas. Early in the program line up, Mark Goldberg, the IACP President made a comment about our organization being like a family. We have our spats or differences but in the end we are one family held together by the common goal of creating a better environment for dogs. And so rather than just reiterate that the speakers at the conference were wonderful (which they were) I’d like to share a few of my other memories from the last few days……

Hugging Mark Hines from Kong Company and seeing that he is on the road to recovery from physical challenges that were altering his life in terribly unpleasant ways.

Meeting John Wade and discovering a sense of humor and wit that I suspect will endear us as friends for years to come. Plus an appreciation for his ability to just say it like it is, with no sugar coating. We need more of that in this industry.

Having Tawni McBee put life and heat back into my oddly cold hands through her Reiki and touch. I and Maddie are always grateful for your gift.

Having Barbara DeGroot mercilessly remind me it was my birthday weekend!

Feeling the tears well up, as Cyndy Douan accepted an award of gratitude for pouring her heart and soul into this organization for the past ten years.

Being able to update my Facebook status regularly enough to let those who could not join us this year experience a bit of the fun!

Listening as Brother Christopher shared a book suggestion as a perfect read to further my quest for inspiration and meaning.

Having Sarah Wilson pay me a compliment on my blouse saying she liked the cut and fit (when the real reason I wore it was to hide the added couple pounds the Midwest winter left on my waistline!!)

Listening to Chris Brudecki from PetSafe share the rules of the *airport shoe game* so us frequent fliers would have something to busy ourselves with on the next long layover.

Seeing Bob Jervis from National K9 and taking the annual picture of the crew of graduates that come together in Hutto each year.

Sitting with Martin Deeley and discussing an idea for possible fund raising and marketing for the organization.

Making the annual pilgrimage to Salt Grass for the best steak on the planet and laughing until the tears flowed as Aunt Faye shared the wit and wisdom that convinces me she MUST write a book.

Meeting a lovely true terrier name Pam Lauritzen. ;-0

Having my dear friend Maryna Ozuna find some of those perfect words that inspire me to continue developing my own skills in the direction they are meant to go.

Watching Pj Stull never rest from a moment of CPAC vigilance as she sat next to me and continued to text, e-mail and hammer away at legislative issues that potentially affect us all.

Watching Big George step up to the plate and add a bit of icing to the event at the close of Sunday as he auctioned off signed T-shirts and sweatshirts to raise more funding for IACP. Only George Cockrell can pull off a gig the way he did!

There were a number of dogs who allowed me to use them as surrogates during my trip. A host of fur, tails and wet noses that filled the void until I could return to my own pack.

But perhaps the most significant memory for me was sharing a late evening conversation outside the elevator with two new attendees who asked me “is it always like this?” and when I asked them to expand on the question they said “is everyone always so approachable, open and friendly? I was quick to respond, “yes” And as I retired to my room, I was flooded with memories of those who gave me their time and talent way back ten years ago. Those who contributed to the early composite of what I have grown into.
So, for Captain Haggerty, thanks for being the one who helped me understand to be a great teacher first and a good dog trainer second. For Pam Green, thank you for demonstrating how to use a wicked sense of humor to make a lasting impression and for Jay Stull, thank you for guiding me in the how to’s of making logical and sound decisions and then act on them. Without the *family* of IACP I could not have progressed to where I am now. I can only hope that as the birthdays come and go I can give back in a way that some other trainer will remember some day.