Saturday, July 21, 2012

God Bless the Broken Road

Leaving TCOTC was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. I don’t regret it, but I remember feeling lost and bereft with out the support of the club at my back. After all, I practically lived there, spending three to five nights a week teaching and training.

In reality, leaving TCOTC was one of those “lose an opportunity, gain the world” situations. In order to keep teaching and taking classes with my dogs, I had to branch out. I got involved in activities that I simply didn’t have time for when I was so absorbed in the club. As a result, I learned a great deal more about teaching people and training dog. I currently have the best teaching gig in the world through ARLP; I teach the classes I want pretty much when I want to teach them. Not training at TCOTC meant that I had to branch out to many new places in order to get myself and my dogs the variety of classes we wanted. I was forced to grow as a trainer, a teacher, and as a person.

And I made a lot of new friends in the process.

Jai and new friend Megan.
Photo by Sarah Brueske.

I invited many of these people over to my house today to celebrate our dog nerdiness together, and it struck me how varied and unique we all are. We span several generations, grew up in several states (those of us who grew up at all, anyway), and have a wide range of experiences. There are dog trainers, sure, but most of us have other ways to support our canine addiction. There are other nurses, a lawyer, pharmacy techs, a social worker, and um, people who do stuff with paperwork . . . Anyway, all of us, no matter how different, were brought together in this moment by our common love not just for our own dogs, but our love for all dogs.

As I watch my friends enjoy themselves, I can’t help but think about the unique backgrounds that brought each of my dogs to me. Piper and Allister, the unwanted puppies. The years Rubi spent bouncing from home to home before fate twisted to land her on my doorstep. Maus, my refugee from Onscario. Jai, the dog with no history, who appeared in the St Paul Animal Control kennels one day, desperate for a hand up in life.

Jai is one of those rare fosters who has merged into my household seamlessly. The more dogs I have and the longer I foster, the more I appreciate this. It sometimes seems like one of the dogs is always getting into something – chasing the cats (Maus), picking fights (Rubi), whining about nothing (Allister), or finding new lumps to panic everyone (Piper). Jai has fit himself into this chaos seamlessly.

Photo by Paige.
When you first start fostering, you hem and you haw over fosters like this. How hard it would be to let them go! They are just too perfect! Their forever home will surely cherish them, but could anyone be good enough for this angel? Eventually, you learn to be grateful for the gift that dogs like this are.

And if you’re really smart, you don’t let them slip through your fingers at all.

So here’s the announcement you’ve all been waiting for: Happy Gotcha Day, Jai Isaiah. For here on out, we’re in this together. I got your back, Fatty. 

Photo by Paige.


  1. Congrats on the new, permanent, family member.

  2. Congratulations Jai on finally hooking your true love!

  3. So awesome! :)

    And such a flattering picture of me with Jai.

    He looks quite pleased with himself in the photo with you... he totally gets it ;)