Five years ago today, I started a blog. You can read the very first post here. At that time, I had taken stock of my life, considered where I was, and then mused about where I might want to go.
And to a large extent, I went! But not necessarily in the direction I had expected.
At that time, my stated goals were to learn—to improve my skills and to explore new ideas.
And I’d say that didn’t happen. I’m not saying I haven’t done those things or met those goals because I have—in spades. Indeed, I’ve probably been in one of the biggest growth spurts of my dog training career, thanks in large part to the community of exceptionally talented trainers around me; when one is constantly exposed to excellent training, thoughtful dialogue, respectful problem solving and a variety of challenges to address in a wide range of dog sports, one cannot help but become a more skilled trainer.
But what I mean is that’s not where life took me; I didn’t just become a better trainer.
Life took me somewhere else altogether, in the typical meandering and unpredictable fashion of all things interesting.
What have I been doing all this time?
Lots of things.
I started the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. Developing FDSA fit my goal of making competition dog training a kinder, warmer and more cooperative place for dog sport teams, and the journey has been nothing short of miraculous. Daily I am amazed by the strength, intelligence, and compassionate caring nature of the community that has developed!
I have seen the effect that FDSA has had on dog sports and I am so proud to be able to say that I started that organization. Can a single individual make choices that can change a well-established culture? Yes. A single individual with a clear vision can do quite a lot.
I have become a writer. From that first book, with the express goal of becoming published, I found that once again, the goal was no longer the reason for the activity. Now I write because I cannot stop writing. The ideas bubble up in my head, looking for an audience, and out they come! Sometimes they come in short bursts, and those thoughts go here in this blog. Indeed, I have written hundreds of blog posts on an enormous range of topics.
But other times those thoughts come in big packages; chunks that I must consider and digest, and those thoughts become books. Sometimes I write them with Deb Jones and other times I write them alone. I am exceptionally proud of every single book that has my name on it, not because I can write books, but because I have found direction and a receptive audience for my need to communicate my dog training passion. Currently, there are six published books available, a few free e-books available online, and more percolating in my mind. There’s always more.
I have started the TEAM titling program. TEAM offers trainers a way to demonstrate their mastery of excellent training and obedience. The program is laid out as a series of progressively more challenging exercises that build upon one another in a logical fashion. Precision, proofing, reducing reinforcement, cue discrimination and generalizing behaviors are all integral parts of the program. I am proud of this program, because I believe it has the potential to bring the logic of modern training methods to a titling program that is equally logical.
I have opened up my world—my life—in a very public manner. I decided that it’s ok to be a human being, that my need to be interactive and honest with people is an acceptable style of professionalism, regardless of what might have been acceptable in the past. And while I tend to keep this blog focused on dogs and dog training, I have not contained myself in the same manner in other public forums. If you follow me on Facebook, then you are well acquainted with my life.
The fact is, I am more than a dog trainer. I am a person! I’m raising a real family, struggle with real aging parents and have real experiences while I live my real life. Why separate out my humanness in the name of professionalism?
On an emotional level, I have changed as well. I have learned to surround myself with kind and respectful people, participate in like-minded groups, and flow wherever the tides of life take me. And with this, I have become a little bit wiser, potentially more influential and surely, a whole lot happier. I hope others have found this in their lives as well.
So yes, I’ve certainly become a better trainer in the past five years. But more than that, I’ve become a better person. I cannot imagine anyone living a more fulfilling life than the one I am blessed to live every single day.
Today, I am a writer, a business owner, a dog trainer, a story teller and a presenter, in no particular order. I am all of those things and I am very grateful.
For those of you who have allowed me to succeed through your support, thank you, because without you, none of this would have mattered at all.