Trainer’s Souls & Chicken Soup

Twas with great shock and horror that I see my last blog was over two years ago! *hands head in shame and vows to be more diligent in future* In my defence though I can honestly say the last two years have been, without a doubt, the most trying of my life – think lovechild of The Bold & The Beautiful and Jersey Shore and you’re halfway there…

I won’t bore readers with the details, but suffice to say it’s been rough. So you can just imagine my relief at the thought that my annual four week break is just around the corner. I was contemplating just how marvellous this time off will be. Nice lazy days, time with family and friends, no work…what!? No work!? No contact with the people and dogs that come to our training centre!? And then it dawned on me… the contact with people and their dogs has been the best therapy I could have ever received during my traumatic two years. And I started beaming. I am so blessed to have a job that simultaneously grounds and energises me like this. Thank you universe!

Not before long the scientist in me starts questioning why this is so? It’s a multi-faceted answer and one I haven’t totally figured out yet, but here goes... I suspect my work grounds me because every now and then it gives me a gentle reminder that I most certainly do not know it all. And I love that. It prompts me to remember that I am a very little cog in a very big machine, which helps put things into perspective. Suddenly my problems do not seem so big.

My work also energises me and I can only imagine that this is so because of the many people and dogs I interact with. I so enjoy meeting the new handlers and their dogs every month. Being afforded the opportunity to make a difference in their lives is such a privilege and I thank these people for allowing me that. This honour is something that fills me with joy.

I also treasure the numerous relationships I have with the long-standing handlers at our training centre. Each week I get to spend time with this extended family. I can arrive at classes in a miserable mood, but at the end of the classes I always leave happy. Over the years these relationships have meant that I have shared in the lives of these people – sometimes it is joyful and sometimes it is heart-breaking, as we recently experienced with the sudden passing of one of the handlers. But even these tragic events remind me that these people have touched my life and I am richer for having known them. I would much rather have my life enriched and occasionally experience a low than have a sterile life devoid of peaks and troughs.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not all candy floss, fluffy clouds and rainbows! There are times the handlers make me want to scratch my own eyes out and take up a career in professional knitting. However these times can also help mould the relationship between the trainer and the handler into something that’s really honest, rewarding and very special in the end.

I want to thank the people out there who, without even realising it, have helped me over an incredibly difficult period in my life. I don’t think they will ever know what their mere presence has meant to me. There’s a lesson in that itself isn’t there?

Handlers – we know them as the people on the other end of the lead, but I like to think of them as chicken soup for the trainer’s soul.