This year has been a major one for me, for a start I lost my mum. Amongst other things I’ve had to let friends go which has been sad, for whatever reason they were not meant to be part of my journey going forward. I’ve said goodbye to my beloved cat after 16 lovely long years. But time moves on and somewhere there are lessons to be learnt in everything.
2016 I’ve decided will be a fresh start, not simply a new year but saying goodbye to all that isn’t me and never was.
One of the major changes in my life has been getting my first dog, the journey that he has taken me on and the point that I am at now.
Those who follow me will have seen my new logo, I want this to honour the direction that I now follow, ‘do no harm’ is a motto used by another trainer and I think it’s a perfect one, harm of any kind, anywhere, anyhow. A hard thing to live by as we often cause harm in the form of emotional upset without evening meaning to do so, simply by being who we are.
When I got my first dog it was because my daughter wanted one, I had always had cats and understood those, I knew nothing about dogs, literally nothing. Our first dog was a treasure, he was kind hearted and soft and energy sensitive, a real gift in our lives. As he grew and became a teen other dogs began to pick on him and he started to get worried and eventually went from a happy social lad to one who preferred his own company. I had no idea how to deal with it and long story short had a series of trainers come visit me, I had everything recommended to me from giving him time outs to using that those air sprays to having to be harder or tougher with him. I followed everyone’s advice as I was desperate to make a difference, and I did, my happy lad became more and more withdrawn and less and less connected to me. Obviously I know now none of that advice I would follow today but some of it came from trainers I knew and trusted.
So another long story short as I tried desperately to make it through this rough period I was going through everything that I am, I’ve had various animals all of my life and I have loved them all unconditionally and kindly and mistakes were never punished. I became very unhappy and at this time also became ill with a vitamin deficiency that I did not know I had, I struggled to cope and had no idea why, no one around me really knew what was going on as I’ve never been one to share my true feelings easily and I became lost not knowing how to begin to make anything better.
It was at this point that a blood test finally showed my issue and it was fixed by a simple supplement and I also found a wonderful new trainer who showed me how to throw out all that outdated rubbish that people had told me a) to do and b) about my dog (such as how he was trying to dominate). What a cloud lifted during that period and I will be ever grateful for that time that I first felt relief and started to feel like me again. I could see the change in my dog too, slowly the trust returned and I worked hard on this as it was ultimately I who broke it with my lack of understanding, weakness at the trust I showed in trainers who hadn’t earnt it and cowardice in not sticking to my principles and true beliefs.
Over time I went to various seminars, took various courses and became VERY careful in whom I approached for training. When I original sought trainers they would talk to me about what they offered and I would listen eagerly hoping to hear a miracle, now I quizzed them for hours before I would even consider letting them near my dog! It was my job to ensure the trust we shared was NEVER broken again.
Today I am happy, we are happy. All of my dogs are only ever trained with kindness, I am passionate in training other dogs in a way that honours how they are feeling and works with that. I do not believe that dogs should ‘just do what we say’ they are sentient beings and have hearts and souls as we do, dogs are honest.
So 2016 what will it bring, well for me, saying goodbye completely and wholly to what has passed. Embracing a new future helping others to understand that you can do anything you want and so can your dog and you can do it all through kindness, compassion and nurturing.
The new logo I have had designed comes with a mission statement too, “Your dogs at our heart” and I think this expresses clearly how our training will move forward, supporting end goals by supporting mind, body and soul and honouring the relationships that people have with their dogs and taking them to even better levels. As my dear old mum said not long before she passed ‘Don’t look down, look up’.
Moral of the tale, it is never too late to make a fresh start, make one today!