The first “wow” of the day has to go out to Bob Bailey who made it back home yesterday, less than a week after his open heart surgery! Bob is doing well, thank you to all for all of your prayers and positive thoughts.
As we head into the last day of Tweener camp today, I have to shout out another “wow!” This is by far the best camp I have ever been a part of in all my years as a dog trainer, it truly has has been magical. We started doing camps here in 1999. I really don’t know how many we have had over the years, I am sure it must be close to one hundred. For me to say this one was “the best so far” is not something I take lightly. Yes we have a great group of people, but I must say we are blessed to have really good groups of campers quite often here at Say Yes. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the group this weekend is really experienced in our program, but I think it is more than that. We have a few very notable RICs here (REALLY Improved Campers:)). There is one woman who flew in all the way from New Brunswick (east coast of Canada). This is her fourth camp with us in the last year. She told me today that she had left camp in tears almost every day during two of her three past camps. The tears were not due to any harsh words that were spoken to her, or a lack of empathy for her training frustrations. They stemmed from a combination of sources; it was her frustration with a difficult, young dog that had some serious behaviour challenges. Plus it was disappointment at not seeing the expectant results immediately after camp. However, she took all of the suggestions we gave to her to heart and you would not believe the difference in her and her dog. WOW. She had a lot of work to do but man, she did it! I can hardly believe it is the same dog.
I believe what is making this camp so special is to see huge improvement like this not just in one dog, but is so many. Really, almost every single student in camp has made MASSIVE strides since their last camp. What this tells me is the finessing that has been made to this program over the past two years is really paying big dividends for the students right now. There was a time when, even though I was teaching people exactly what I did with my own dogs, something was lost in the translation. The students results rarely had the same degree of excellence of my own dogs. Just as I believe “a dog is a reflection of their owner’s ability to train” I also firmly believe that “your students are a reflection of your ability to teach.” So in the past, when I saw a group of students leave camp and come back several months later with little improvement, I took it personally and looked for opportunities to change how the message was delivered. Luckily, I have not been alone in this endeavor. I have an awesome group of instructors that give me great feedback at where they believe changes need to be made in order to continuing moving the curriculum forward. The improvements that this weekend’s group of students have made since their last camps, makes me believe the program really has evolved to a wonderful place both for us to teach and for the students to enjoy the maximum benefits. The excellence of performance I saw only sporadically in students’ dogs in the past, I am starting to see in the vast majority of the students that come here today. It has taken ten years of teaching to get to this “wow” point, but wow, what an awesome feeling. My dog training philosophy has not changed throughout the years, however “how” we teach the details of the program have become very clear, especially over the last year. I am not the type of person to sit back and say “all done,” so I will not stop trying to improve. I know every camp I teach will always see the inclusion of something new. However, it is a great place to be when you can now measure student’s improvements by leaps rather than inches!
Today I am grateful for all of those students that have come to camps over the last ten years. The evolution of this program has been facilitated through our students, both their successes and their challenges. Thank you.