Monday, March 28, 2016

Fresh Start

Wow, coming to my blog site today I realize it is approaching two years since I last made a post!  The reasons behind that I'm sure are varied.  When I started this, I was actively competing in dog sports with multiple dogs, and most of my posts were about those experiences and what I was learning along the way.

While my dogs, and dog training, are still huge parts of my life, competition hasn't been lately.  Dogs aged.  Dogs retired.  Cadence retired prematurely due to a random neurological event, and that more than anything took the wind right out of my sails for quite a while.  I had a lovely new agility prospect in Fate (and still do), but my heart wasn't into the competition anymore.  On weekends, we felt more inclined to stay at home with all the dogs and go for hikes, play in the yard, and do training games, rather than take only two of them off to a trial while the others sat home with only a mid-day bathroom break.

In addition, our training lives changed as well.  After a few years volunteering at the local humane society, we began teaching dog training classes to the public there.  Soon after we both became Certified Professional Dog Trainers, and we started our own training business.  Helping owners and dogs work through often difficult behavioral challenges has become a passion, and I feel grateful and surprised every day about the fascinating road this is leading me on.

Our own dog training never stopped.  We set up agility courses in the backyard.  We teach new tricks.  We continue to reinforce good manners in public.  We try new training challenges.  We meet with other trainer friends for training outings and pick different things to work on.  And we brought new family members of the feathered variety into our home and became fascinated by how they learn as well.  But without the motivation of competition or the ritual of logging and tracking my progress, I felt like things were getting . . . kind of stale.

So, coming back from ClickerExpo 2016 last week, I felt like I needed a new program to clarify my training goals, really start tracking progress again, and pushing myself to work towards a higher performance - whether that means competition (I hope so) or just my own pleasure at watching my dogs' (and birds') successes.  I got some great ideas about how to make sure my daily training stays fresh from my friend Chris's blog, and found a cool new on-line training log being started by the family of some trainer friends that while only in beta version is quite useful already!  I figured with these new ideas and tools, the last piece for keeping me accountable should be also resurrecting this blog, which, even if it is only for my own amusement and interest, is a nice way to see where we've been and where we are going.

So, if you are interested in watching along with my training adventures with some border collies, a terrier, and a couple of parrots, stay tuned, and I'll do my best to get back in this blogging habit.

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