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Me, Myself and I + The Dogs in My Life

I worked in a medical laboratory for many years. I ran machines, collected data, and looked for the outliers both in the data and under the microscope. I consider it wonderful practice for my job as an excellent poop finder. It is just another type of outliers to find in a different setting.

As a family, we adopted one cat and two dogs from the local shelter. Each new animal brought with him lessons to be learned by the entire family. And eventually my sixteen year old son decided that he wanted to volunteer at the shelter. Sounds simple enough, doesn't it? Oh--so he needed a responsible adult to volunteer with him due to his being underage--- okay, that sounds simple enough. So, we spent many saturday afternoons walking dogs, cleaning cages, feeding dogs and learning the important life lessons. I have always told my children that "No one gets if no one gives". My son soon went on to growing up and finding what he wants to achieve in life. ( he has become a person who looks to use his skills to help his community).
Being a person who finds it difficult to leave a project in the middle--- I stayed on at the shelter-- I went from working the kennel to supervising the kennel. I became a dog adoption counselor, helping people match the right dog to their personal circumstances. I became a shelter shift supervisor--- all of these jobs brought challenges. A shelter is full of people with passions, and not always the same passions. While in the shelter, I had started to work with the dogs who needed to learn a dfferent set of skills to be adoptable.

I eventually decided to make my avocation my vocation. I have always been interested in behavior, any species behavior. I got a job in a large boarding kennel. I went to seminars, learned from other people and eventually became a professional dog trainer. From there I branched out to work with other shelters. I learned to connect with dogs who were not coping well in the shelter and help them learn more socially acceptable behavior to increase their adopt-ability. I have volunteered, and continue to volunteer with organizations whose goals include giving young people insight into how to change their community for the better.

I learned to train my dogs in the era of "leash pops", prong collars, and punishment as training tools. It was the era of using the "carrot and the stick" without a lot of carrot. "Dumb animal" was how most humans perceived other species to be. Twenty years later, we now have some understanding of ourselves and other species.
I enjoy helping people learn that a dog's native language is body language, and that learning to understand what your dog is saying can help you train your dog without becoming frustrated. Dogs can not read the manual to know how to do something---- but they are masters at learning what is needed to survive in the environment. They have built in talents, just as we do. Learning how to motivate our dog, plus how to tell him what we need him to do equals training at its best.

I continue to work with dogs who have not been given the skills to successfully navigate in a human culture. It is a world that does not include a "quick fix". Each dog comes with his own backlog of experiences and learned ways to cope with his world. Connecting with him, becoming his anchor in the sea of chaos that comes with arriving alone in a place where life is a series of new people and events happening to him, is always worth the effort on my part. And hopefully the friendship ends with that dog going on to live a better life than he had before.