Tag Archives: service dog training

a dream sixteen years later

Dreams. It’s been a long time since I’ve had dreams that I’m actually passionate about and could see myself reaching someday. But in the past week or so I’ve begun to allow myself to open up a childhood dream that I said goodbye to the day I decided to study psychology at a four year school in 2007.

Growing up my mother filled out a sheet each year that had questions like “what is your favorite tv show”, “what is your favorite book” “who would you trade places with” and at the top our height and weight (yeah that one haunts me. I like to go back and look at that periodically to torture myself. And mother please don’t go back and erase them like you threatened I promise I won’t do it anymore. I’ve confessed now.). The last question was always “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. Until senior year of high school I always answered a service dog trainer or an author.

At that point in time I had absolutely no idea that years down the road I would have my own service dog. Never, in a million years had it crossed my mind. Psychiatric service dogs weren’t around then and even if they were I wouldn’t have assumed I would need one. After all nothing was wrong with me (I was wrong about that but oh well). I did many research and 4-H projects about service dogs. I trained my own dogs in obedience, agility and showmanship and enjoyed reading about all kinds of working dogs. Oh, the irony now that I have one but perhaps I was being prepared to look outside the box to having my own.

Anyways, as I prepared to graduate high school my mind was naturally on the subject of ‘what did I want to be when I grew up’. Well, author was out. I didn’t write well enough and the idea of being an English major terrified me. I can’t spell (you know this if you read my blogs) and I dont’ have very good grammer (again you probably know this). Also, who really makes it as an author so I marked that career off my list. Then I looked at being a service dog trainer or working with dogs in some way. And this…this was what I wanted to do. But how? It wasn’t like I could go get a degree in service dog work. I could possible major in animal sciences at K-State but I didn’t want to go to a big school. That left biology. But I didn’t do honor’s bio or science so I marked that out. I wasn’t smart enough or good enough. Also, who gets a job training service dogs? No one so I flushed that dream down the drain. And how did psychology come about? I wanted to help people. I genuinely did. I wanted to help people with mental illness but I think the driving force that I didn’t even realize was there was that I knew something was wrong with me and I just didn’t know what. And I hoped in some deep corner of my brain that I could figure it out and fix it.

So now, out of college and faced with the very real reality that I am probably never going to go back and get the degree I planned on getting or my other ‘back up degrees’ and also very aware that there are other ways to exist in life without going with the ‘safest option’ I’ve begun to allow myself to dream a little. This is new. As in just in the last week. It started with meeting with another dog trainer in the area who has a service dog. She’s helping me a bit with some training issues with Ben. I realized that Ben can learn more things. I can keep training him. He and I can keep growing as a team. I love training dogs. And I can keep training Ben! Ben may have come trained as a full service dog but this doesn’t mean we can’t keep learning and training. And it’s opening up that part of me that has been closed and locked away. The part of me that loves working with a dog, brainstorming to find ways to change their behavior and get them to learn new skills.

And then it happened….the other service dog handler (OSDH) told me her dream is to one day train service dogs. And it opened up my dream again. And suddenly we were talking and brainstorming. That little dream. That passion. That thing I’ve always wanted to do was suddenly out in the open. I was giving myself permission to think that perhaps it could be a real thing. That I didn’t need to go with the ‘practical’ route or the route that guaranteed a traditional job but could perhaps follow a dream I’ve had since I was eight.

I’m not going to lie since leaving school this last time I’ve been a bit directionless. However, since discovering Ben and I could learn new things I’ve slowly added more activities into my life. We go to obedience class and will soon start agility as well. I am meeting on Thursday’s with OSDH for training and coffee talking. And now with the addition of a dream my life seems a little bit more complete. And I like that. Who knew that an eight year olds dream could perhaps show up again sixteen years later.





Filed under Ben, coping skills, dogs, eating disorder, eating disorders, friends, Hope, Identity, Job, New Life, Recovery, the past