Monday, November 25, 2019

The Dog Welfare Alliance.

When I first joined the ISCP, to learn about canine behaviour, I became aware of The Dog Welfare Alliance, mainly because the very clever Lisa Tenzin-Dolma is the person who set both up.

On investigation I decided to join up. I found out the DWA was only £10 a year for a professional to join, and for that we would make a declaration of intent to use only force-free methods in our training, and go on the website with the other force-free professionals. We had access to the facebook page and as members were also considered associate members of ICAN: International Companion Animal Network. We also were given logos to show our force-free ethics on our own websites and social media.

The funds raised from subscriptions are (apart from covering the cost of the website) then sent off as donations to various shelters and projects to help make dogs lives better, in the UK and around the world. Naturally, the donations are only given to shelters and projects who operate a force-free ethos too.

I was honoured when Lisa asked me to manage the DWA for her, which I have been doing for a little while now. I have no idea why she thought of me, when there are so many people who are far more capable of things than I am, but I was thrilled none the less and have quietly rummaged around in the background trying to keep it all running smoothly. But - I was even more honoured when she gave me ownership of the DWA last night!! Me!!!! A person who I have never met in "real" life, actually has that much trust in me. Crazy - but what a rare kindness, connection and true friend.

Bitmoji ImageAs a person who wholeheartedly believes that if you want to make the world a better place, you have to start with the (wo)man in the mirror (Thanks MJ), the opportunity to actually do something for good is not one that I take for granted, and I am deeply moved by her trust in me.

So, as well as my Locke's Dogs work, helping people to help their dogs with various behaviour issues and training, I now very much look forward to helping people learn about force-free, positive training and spreading the word through and with a forward thinking organisation of like-minded doggy enthusiasts :-)

How lucky am I, that I get to do things that make me happy for work? And that I have such wonderful friends who have faith in me? I am truly blessed.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

My little adventure

A couple of weeks ago, I left home on my own to go on a proper little adventure, all by myself. I had to iron out a few little last minute transport issues, and had rented myself a beautiful little cottage in Merton, Devon (The Forge at Speccott Barton Farm if anyone is interested), and headed off to my very first dog training seminar. 

I had never actually been anywhere on my own before, much less to a massive 5 day event with a bunch of virtual strangers, plus two lovely ladies, Yvonne & Mary from Progressing Partnerships who I had only met once previously (but already knew I wanted to be friends with.)

The coach had to stop literally 5 minutes away from our destination, after a minor crash further up the road had caused a traffic jam, and other than it being a long journey this was the only hiccup on the way there. I duly walked round to the nearest taxi office, accompanied by a man who had just come back from the other side of the world and was no doubt much more tired than I, but he was a true gentleman who didn't want to see a lady left on her own in a strange place. I was ever so grateful! People seem so friendly down in Devon - it really is very nice to feel looked after like that.

I found my way into my cottage that evening having been on the road well over 12 hours, but the odd thing is, the trip, although long, was actually very enjoyable. I had, for the first time in a long time, a chance to decompress, to just be in the moment, with no worrying about work or trying to keep up with social media, or being mum, daughter or granddaughter, and I sat and listened to my music and watched the world go by out of the window. I saw a herd of deer, all gathered in the trees, and numerous sights and views that I never would have experienced had I dared to drive the crapmobile to Devon. Besides, the crapmobile would never have made it past about 15 miles. Devon is about 250 miles away. Long ass trip on the back of an AA van.

I arrived at Super Trainer Live the next morning, after the lovely lady who owned the cottage drove me so I could see where I had to get to. The first lady I spoke to had a sister who had lived in my village, despite people having come from all over the world, so I took that as a sign that I was going to be ok, and soon began chatting with people and making friends. It was actually fairly easy - or I am braver than I thought - as I quickly realised that the entire conference was actually more like an asylum, full of crazy, dancing, singing, chanting and rocking dog-people. I fitted right in. I met up with a few people that I had chatted to online before, and made some firm friends. 

I also managed to spend some time with lovely Yvonne and Mary, who were so helpful and like a pair of sisters looking after me, and making sure I got back to the farm safely in the dark, wet evenings. I am so grateful to them - they made my trip amazing with their kindness.

I did manage to get into quite a few shenanigans, like finding myself lost in a field in the dark, surrounded by sheep with only 8% battery on my phone.... Thank the gods, the farmer runs the local youth club and saw me while he was on the way home - I flagged him down, not knowing who he was - and oh how I sighed with absolute sheer fucking relief when he said he owned the property I was looking for.. (kids - never get in cars with strangers. Do as I say, not as I do).

Then there was the village shop that my friend and I made open up especially for us, and we then proceeded to spend the next 15 minutes hiding in the mechanics garage next door as it was pissing down, giggling like schoolgirls..

When we tried to accost Tom the vet to treat my friend who was feeling ill.. and found ourselves backstage making friends with the crew and seeing all what goes into these things behind the scenes.

Then there was the incident when I hopped on the school bus..

The seminar taught me hell of a lot about dogs and dog behaviour, and all the things that you would expect, but it also taught me a lot about myself. It taught me that actually, I AM as good as the other trainers that were in the room those 5 days, as I knew all the things they were talking about, I had experiences of my own training to share rather than just listening, I came up with ideas and plans, and I had a bloody good time doing it. I will no doubt need to remind myself of this fact, as I frequently find myself struggling with Imposter Syndrome, but for now I am buzzing and excited about what steps I want to take for Locke's Dogs next.

Best of all, it taught me just how capable I am of doing stuff on my own, for myself - albeit with a little help from my friends. I survived, a week without all the people (and dog) I hold dearest to me. The break was long overdue and well needed. I had never been "just Freya" ever since my eldest was born and being a mum took over my world. It was almost as if I had forgotten how to just be me - and with a distinct lack of internet coverage, I soon rediscovered how to be present in nature, to feel magic and energy around me, how to enjoy reading, crocheting and colouring, and all the other things I used to enjoy doing more often. 

I came home so overjoyed to see them all, to tell them about my week, and to start putting things into place in my training and business - and even the evil bastard of a sick bug I encountered on the coach home for 5 whole gut wrenching hours, was not enough to dampen my spirits. Oddly enough nobody wanted the loo on the coach once they heard/smelled me turning inside out, and so I had it all to myself - along with the chair I was sitting on having a space next to it - even though the coach was pretty much full. Funny how a bit of vomit can clear a gap on the coach for your comfort. Will have to remember that tip for when I go back next year! Soup anyone?

And now I am home, and eagerly adding things into my training schedules, and getting ready to start new and exciting things with my clients, feeling completely refreshed and very positive about the future. Roll on Torquay 2020!