this blog post is via Tricky Tails where most of my dog focused blogging is moving
I hadn’t realized that January was ‘National Train Your Dog Month’ but evidently it is, and that feels pretty darned fitting, especially as I have ben pretty clear about how in 2013 I was hopefully going to involve more intentional dog work. I’m thrilled to be able to say that one week into the year, my goals for the year are already materializing!
I’ve been working more intentionally around trick training with Charlotte- as I’ve been talking about all over my social networking, and of course was a big part of starting the blog. This first weekend of 2013 I’m spending a lot of time at home with the pups relaxing and Charlotte has been learning some new tricks (more on that in another post). Connected to that, something I’ve been a little bit less public about is that I’ve been investigating doing more training beyond work with our dogs. I’ve been out of the dog world for a long time, was convinced everyone would think I’d lost my mind — but much to my amazement everyone who matters in my life has been nothing but supportive, and thanks to some community connections really exciting things happened.
The amazing Holly Hughes and I met a few years ago when she was in NYC performing her “The Dog and Pony Show” which amongst other things is about dog agility. I couldn’t resist showing her my agility tattoo in the theater lobby, and after teh show went home and wrote her about how much it had meant to me to see a famously out queer person doing dog sports- and how unimaginable that had seemed would ever be the case when I as ababy dyke dog agility competitor lost my dogs, home, community for coming out in that world. Holly and I had lunch together a few days later, talked dogs and then kept in touch via facebook.
In late December I very quietly began reaching out to dog people I knew to see if anyone had a contact in NYC that might be willing to let me shadow them and get my feet wet in the training world. Much to my complete shock a couple of weeks ago, knowing my desires around training Holly connected me with her friend Frankie Joiris who is literally a world class dog trainer and who happens to teach pet level agility classes one day a week here in NYC.
Honestly the whole thing sounded to good to be true, except it wasn’t. this is a real opportunity, and one I’m so grateful to take advantage of. I was utterly in shock when Frankie emailed me back and gave me the opportunity to come observe her class this week, with the intention of if I liked it that I could return weekly to assist! On Wednesday night I met Frankie and a couple of her dogs (including her sinfully cute 8 week old Border Collie puppy!) and for the first time in over a decade was in an agility class. I’ll admit that walking to meet her I was more than a little bit nervous. I didn’t know what it would be like to be back in that world, to talk about Snickers and Flash (my dogs that I lost) and who I used to be, the life as a dog trainer that I had dreamed I would have as an adult. There was a little place in the back of my mind that worried that it was silly to try to get back into dogs in this new way (I don’t have an interest in competing, instead I’m interested in lower stakes games between people and their dogs). My fears were unfounded. The minute I got to the space and met Frankie and helped her to set up the equipment and watching her work with the dog/handler teams – I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else, and I can’t wait until I get to go back next week.
2013 is a big year for me for a lot of non-dog reasons- coming off the release of my novel and an anthology releasing this month, and starting writing on my new novel- but it’s also big for me with dogs. I can’t put words to how gratifying it is to play and work with the dogs we share our home with, and now feel like I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to recapture some stolen dreams, and transform them into something that fits into the magical life I’ve been lucky enough to build. My hope is that this path I’m walking will give me the chance in the longterm to share my love of dogs and passion for helping people have more fun and a better relationship with their dogs.