I love my job; I love it SO much! I get to meet and work with some really wonderful and amazing dogs and people; I don't regret for one minute leaving the full-time cubicle job I had!
But, since the start of the pandemic, there are more people than ever looking for help with their dogs. A lot of the trainers I know (myself included) are literally stuck in the cycle of eat, sleep, train dogs, and repeat the process the next day. We are so busy - so incredibly busy - and are feeling the effects of the increase in pandemic puppies (many of whom are now becoming adolescents). There are some days that I, personally, forget to eat or forget to bring something with me to eat in the car between clients; and there are some nights I can't stop my brain from buzzing about the dogs I've seen that day or that I will be seeing that week (or the dog I saw a month ago and I'm wondering how they are doing and what they've been up to).
I know I'm not the only one either! So many of us in the pet industry love what we do and so many of us are bending over backward to fit as many people into our calendars as we can. We put pressure on ourselves to fit the young puppies in because we don't want to miss them during their socialization windows; we don't want to wait to see someone and their dog because we know that waiting can exacerbate the issues; and we try to squeeze every minute out of every day, seeing clients, teaching classes, answering inquiries, compiling homework and session summaries, managing social media, writing blog posts, and so on, and so on. A lot of us are booking out several weeks - if not, months - and are doing what we can to stay ahead of the burnout.
So, this month, the blog post isn't anything Earth-shattering (not that I think it usually is, anyway); the topic of the month isn't a "this is how to train with your dog" topic. Frankly, I ran out of time to think of something to write about this month - a whole month of time slipped away on me before I stopped to think about the next post. I'm actually even posting late this month (you may notice that new blog posts are usually published on the 15th of each month) because the 15th of this month happened to fall on a Sunday - and I really try to keep my Sundays about family and as free from the inbox and the computer as I can. (I can't credit the person who said it because I can't remember who, but I remember someone telling me that they "resource guard" their weekends and time off and it's a phrase that has stuck with me!).
This month, I'm writing about compassion and understanding. My hope is to put a gentle reminder out there that your trainer, your groomer, and your veterinarian are overwhelmed and we're all coping the best we can; we're doing everything we can to adapt to the world after it was turned upside down in 2020 - and continues to be topsy-turvy in 2021; and we're trying to help as many people and their dogs as we can!
All of that in mind, I have a few suggestions that may help you and your trainer, groomer, vet, etc.:
If you're planning to adopt or bring home a new SideKick, plan ahead for their training, grooming, and medical care. Try not to wait until there is a problem or there is a real concern and get sessions or appointments on the calendar proactively (or, at the very least, research and choose your pet professionals earlier than you think you'll need them).
Respect your pet professionals' vacations and time off and hours of operation.
Practice some patience as we may take a little longer than usual to respond to your emails and inquiries.
When possible, send an email (you will likely not get us on the phone and it's time-consuming to sift through and respond to voicemails).
Overall, please be kind; we're just out here eating, sleeping, and trying to train as many dogs as we can!