The ramblings of the 3am mind.
First off I apologise for the lack of posts, my life took a bit of a left hand turn back in October and has been a little consumed by new responsibilities. Funny how life does that, just when you think you have a focused track you loop back on yourself and take a road that you have travelled before.
I have found myself back teaching students of dog training, it has been awhile since I was last responsible for other peoples learning in this way. That is to say people who have chosen to sign up for a course and dedicate some of their time to learning the craft. I am back with the NDTF after many years away and finding it very different from when I was involved back in the mid 90's.
The cross section of students backgrounds are just as diverse but now there seems to be a definite shift in the male / female balance. I was the first female through in the NDTF course and over that first ten years I was involved there were few woman trainers, the main intake of students were male. This was probably due to the focus of the training back then being in the working dog sector. How things have changed, in most ways for the better but in some....well not so.
As trainee's we were given many opportunities to learn, both in lectures as well as on the field. We were expected to work every training session with clients and dogs, attend every lecture and workshop after hours and then train our own dogs to a high standard after the training was finished for the day or night. I started that traineeship at the age of about 17/18.
My full time job at this time was in Graphic Repro, a four year indentured apprenticeship that involved 3 years of trade school and a Master in Trade that was responsible for my teaching. A hard man who expected perfection and dedication to the job. I spent ten years under his guidance before I left to pursue other careers within the printing industry, to gain a wider knowledge as well as a sense of self and independence. When I started that trade back in 1986 I was one of three girls who were the first to ever go through the trade.
I ask students now, why do they want to do this course? What is it that they want from this experience? What are their expectations? What are their current trades? What other skills do they think they have that could help them with becoming a dog trainer?
The diversity of backgrounds is brilliant, the common thread throughout though is the passion for dogs. Making a difference for either the dog they currently own or on a wider basis through rescue and rehabilitation. Many come with vast knowledge and years within the dog trades.
As with any cross section of people there are those that you wonder about, the ones that seem to have a skewed perspective or are maybe are just naive. I think of them as "the entitled ones".
Those who feel that a simple course will make them into something else, something more purely through the attainment of that first certificate. These are the ones that expect a job handed to them and the kudo's that go with it. Reality bites hey?
Any apprenticeship eventually ends, you 'do your time', 'earn your stripes' etc etc. But once that apprenticeship ends you are never really a trades person until you do your time as a Journeyman. The end of a period of initial learning needs to then take it on the road. Go find other masters in trade to work under, different facets of the same industry or maybe other trades that will compliment the work you want to perfect or become better at. As a dog trainer you need to hunt down opportunities, volunteer your services to gain more experience and give some back to those that help you as a journeyman. Quid Pro Quo.
The day you think that the journey has ended and that you are done with the travelling is the day you stop learning. Don't sit back and wait for opportunities to be handed to you, hunt them down and run with them for as long as they last. Then say thank you and move onto the next opportunity to gain knowledge and make y