This is my favorite time of year. It’s fall and I love the weather, the leaves turning bring back wonderful memories of childhood. It’s my vacation, and we’re going home. The most fun however is a little Premack plan we developed to make going home a lot less sad and a lot more productive for my pack.
Every fall for the last several years we have included a “fall tune-up” with our pack at Peaceable Paws with Pat Miller. Pat is my mentor, my teacher and as the years roll by, my colleague and dear friend. Her reputation speaks for itself. I am so lucky that once a year she becomes my trainer for a few days.
Yes, I am a dog trainer. I have my CPDT, I am a member of APDT since 2003 and an Afilliate of Peaceable Paws. I have owned my own dog training business since 2003. I am considered an excellent trainer taking advantage of all of the opportunities offered from continuing education seminars, clicker-expos and APDT conferences. I am a published author writing articles and blogs about dog training for many years. I have all the credentials to be a great dog trainer, AND when it comes to my own personal dogs, I like to job out once a year.
I am also a dog mom. I am also very good at that. One thing I do not have though with my dogs is a good objective view of our life together. I never want one. That’s for the dog trainer. I’m their mom. I love them with all my heart. I feed them, groom them. I clean up after them when they’re sick, cuddle up with one in the storms and they keep sentry duty with me when I’m sick. Yes, I train them. Yes, I make sure the dog trainer in me sees all the action in the house regarding my furry pack, and I do take action to maintain calm and peace within the pack. No I am not perfect. I can’t see it all. Part of me doesn’t want to see it all. I’m their mom and I want love to cloud my judgement every once in a while. I want to do the things I’m not supposed to do, every once in a while. Lately the mom in me has been giving food from the table to Star. She looked at me in shock the first time, but she is 10 and when a dog reaches 10 in my house, well the rules can be a little more flexible. The dog trainer in me knows she can handle it, the mom in me is terrified that she’s getting older and wants to give her special attention.
So we go to Peaceable Paws on 80 acres of doggie and human paradise. We talk about the dogs while we hike. Then we go to the training room and we talk some more. We go over the year and the situations in my house. We talk about each of their training programs and we introduce new behaviors or we add a new flair to an already learned behavior. My spouse and I clear up any miscommunication that can happen with a trainer and their non-training partner. But that’s a whole other blog we are all afraid to write. (Brad and Lisa, you two rock.)
One year after some in-house dog “issues,” we talked almost the whole time. I was devastated by some fighting with my two younger dogs. The dog trainer in me was appalled that this even happened and the mom in me was “freakin’ out” so bad, I couldn’t think straight. I had done all the right things when it happened, but the mom in me was much happier with a professional opinion. We implemented some new plans together and I left with new hope that I hadn’t had for months.
This year, with no “issues” to work on, I look forward to starting new exciting behaviors for my pack. My dogs have done an amazing job of nursing me back to health this year. They are my heroes. This year’s “tune-up” will be a huge present to them for enduring beautifully a pretty boring year with major stress in the house. This year’s tune up will be all about fun, fun, and more fun. Nose work for Lhotse. Some Rally or Freestyle for Kaiya, (I can’t decide, hum maybe a second opinion on that one would help). Star will continue where we left off last year, learning some light duty service work to help me along. Nothing official she is 10, but she’s loving picking things up for me, and this year we will start using some different textures she’s not used to. Still trying to get her to ultimately bring me that Coke from the fridge. I ignore the fact that I haven’t had a Coke in about 15 years or more, but if she brings me one, I would totally drink it. That’s the love of a mom, not a dog trainer.
This year we will have to add some tune-up for me also, having had two major surgeries, one on my clicking side, my timing is off, my head still a little fuzzy, and I need a tune-up myself. I have to check with the dogs to see if they can share some of their time for me to get back on my paws again. They have been very patient with my late clicks and slow treat delivery. But they are savvy dogs and they don’t mind me using them for “getting back my chops”.
I love this time every year with Pat. It’s awesome to romp around Peaceable Paws. I always leave refreshed and renewed, with many new ideas and training plans for my pack of twelve paws.