On the day that I told my mother I wanted to start my own canine obedience school, she smiled and muttered something under her breath about the irony of my youthful disobedience and my newfound passion for enforcing rules. What she didn’t know then was that it was not in spite of, but rather because of, my tendency to push the boundaries that I was confident in my ability to succeed.
I jumped back as the dog lunged for my leg, teeth bared and snarling. “It’s okay, Smokey, it’s okay,” I soothed as I tried to maneuver closer to the post where I had tied his leash. In the back of my head, I heard my brother’s taunts swirling around.
“A dog trainer?” he had scoffed. “What kind of person would hire you as a dog trainer?!”
I pushed the thoughts away and grasped the leash, pulling it tightly to my side as Smokey, surprised by my sudden confidence, fell into stride beside me.
How do you respond when you’re faced with a very real physical threat to your safety, yet you literally can’t afford to back down? This is the question I faced on my very first day as a dog trainer.
Running canine obedience classes is a lot like navigating high school. It’s a dog-eat-dog world with a lot to learn, many personalities to manage, peril around every corner, and everyone anxious to graduate.