It's taken me many years to discover what I wanted to do for a living. Yet looking back, I realize that every meandering step of the way, my life experiences prepared me for leading dogs and training their guardians.

I was born in Portland, Oregon, and lived in its suburb Milwaukie until age 13 when my family moved to a small farm in Oregon City. I grew up an adventuresome tomboy with the outside my preferred playground. I was enchanted by my Klamath Indian heritage, my grandmother being half, which inspired frequent daydreams with me starring as an Indian heroine. After moving to the country, I got the horse I'd always wanted and began learning horsemanship in a 4-H club. Had this rural move happened when I was younger, I might have followed my family into the horse show world but my heart belonged to summer camps, playing music, and socializing with friends. I worked at summer camps and outdoor schools off and on through 1982. To celebrate my high school graduation I climbed Mt. Hood. Following high school I went to Southern Oregon State College and majored in intramural flag football and softball. For years I would vacillate between physical and outdoor education. In the late 70s, my best friend and I joined the Army in search of an adventure, or possibly some direction in life. I was schooled in small arms weaponry, finishing their eight-week program in a record two weeks time as the distinguished honor graduate. I was stationed in Frankfurt, Germany, but spent six months in the Southern Alps as a member of the ski patrol. Although I was one of two members that were assigned to non-ski patrol duties, such as binding room and lift duties, I underwent the same rigorous emergency first aid and rescue training designed for the ski patrol. It would be the only worthwhile, or contemporary, education the Army would afford me. After leaving the Army and in between rugby games, I assisted beginning cross country with the now defunct Keep Listening women's outdoor adventure school, apprenticed as a river raft guide with Lute Jerstad Adventures and worked at Camp Fire Girls summer camps. In the mid 80s I worked for the Portland city pools lifeguarding and teaching swim lessons. In the mid 80s I returned to college and in 1989 completed a Bachelors of Science in Psychology, graduating with honors. Following graduation I spent nearly ten years working at Kaiser's Center for Health Research in the research analysis department.

For all but four years of my life, I've lived in the company of dogs. I have been a dog guardian for 30 years, a multiple dog guardian for the past 12 years. My first dog Cedar, a golden lab mix, and I had a special relationship that was relatively free of "issues". I believe this was due to her amazing personality, some training on my part, and our good fortune. After Cedar's passing I got another dog too soon and our relationship was not nearly as uncomplicated. It was then that I began formal obedience training. In 1991-1992 I attended classes at Heeling Free and trained under Harold Hansen. In 1993-1994 I attended obedience, agility, and fly ball classes at Animal School, owned by Mary Lee Nitschke, Phd. I also briefly assisted basic obedience classes at the Animal School during 1999. For the past three years I have mentored under Lorraine Myers at Canine Conduct Consulting. I have been professionally dog walking for six years and training (officially) for nearly two.

Prior to working with dogs I'd often be asked why I didn't consider becoming a dog trainer. I'd dismiss the suggestion quickly and fervently, usually while rolling my eyes and making phhhttt sounds. While soul-searching one day, I realized that my resistance to working with dogs was based on the image I had of dog trainers. I pictured myself in a matching polyester blend pastel sweat suit, sporting dog and bone shaped jewelry and a "I 'heart' my sharpei" written out in some shining plastic beadwork. I had a good laugh with myself and set out to explore this dog training business. I guess it's true what they say, what you most resist, persists (sans the outfit).

 

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