Positively Hopeful for the Future

The online dog training community is not a particularly nice place to be these days. The Us vs Them mentality is running rampant on social media, with so much energy spent on attacking others. Ironically, a lot of this is being done in the name of “positive” training.

Kindness to all living beings is what I strive for, though I often fall short of that. I try to surround myself with like-minded hearts and minds that are open and clear and capable of rational discussions. But there is so much anger, contempt, cruelty towards fellow humans, so much righteousness. It is growing tiresome to try to contribute what I can without wasting time on trolls, the zealots, or those who know so little they don’t know what they don’t know! I have begun to despair about the raw divide that seems to be everywhere.

I have been at this a long time. I’ve been working with animals professionally since 1977. For the first time in my life, I am looking ahead to what years I have left and wondering why I would keep fighting so hard to promote relationships, kindness, empathy, compassion. Perhaps my energy is best spent staying close to home, and not putting myself out there. Let the youngsters duke it out among themselves.

And then, at a recent seminar, like a sun beam piercing through grey skies, a young woman appeared, her eyes bright, eager, curious. Her smile fills my heart. Her mother, one of my students, presents her proudly: “This is Quinn.”

In Quinn, I recognize that I am looking right at the future, and it has beauty and grace. In her eyes, I see a deep passion for animals that echoes my own. I know we are speaking the same language crafted from relentless curiousity, built of wanting to know ever more about the animals around us. Her focused attention never flagged. Her poise and immensely thoughtful questions throughout the weekend delighted this old teacher in so many ways. Her questions reflected an ability to synthesize information in a way adults often struggle to do; hers is a rare intelligence that shines bright. What a joy to be with her – I wished for much more time to be in her company.

Why will I keep traveling and teaching as long as I can? Because I want to be sure to share what I can so Quinn and all like her who will help shape a better world for animals.

In advance, I thank you Quinn. I am looking forward to many more shared days with you as you grow! You are truly a balm to this old trainer’s heart. (With gratitude to her mother for creating such a marvelous being!)