Thursday, August 5, 2010
What's Happening at Cedarfield?
Some interesting things have been happening at Cedarfield over the last 6-8 months. It was about that time that I invited a friend and fellow agility person, Sue McKinney, to use my field to teach some of her classes. She had lost access to the place where she was teaching and I was hardly ever using my field so I thought at least I would get a little something from the field rental and also it might encourage me to get out there more frequently myself.
Sue teaches lots of classes and does a great job of putting the "fun" into fundamentals whether she's teaching agility, rally or pet obedience. Her students seem to love coming out to Cedarfield where there's a lot of room and green grass and trees. Consequently, she's gone form teaching just a couple of classes on one night a week to 4 or 5 classes on two nights a week.
As the field got more and more use, Sue and I decided we'd go ahead and invest in some lights for those dark winter nights that make it so hard to get any training done after 5:00. We bought four of these kind of lights: and even had an electrical box wired to the outside of the nearest building so we could switch them on and off easily.
It's been amazing having lights out there. Not only does it make training possible, it makes having classes possible all year long. Sure, sometimes it's cold and wet outside but our winters are pretty mild so there are relatively few nights when it's too cold to train or teach outside. The other good thing about holding clases outdoors is that during the good weather it's so nice to be outside to enjoy it after being cooped up inside all day. Not only that, teaching outside allows us to price our classes competitively which is so important in this economy.
And it's made it so much easier for me to train during the winter. Since I still work full-time at my "real" job. It used to be a race for me to see if I could get home, change my clothes and get the dogs outside to run around a little before it got dark. Now, I don't have to break the speed limit driving home and even have the time to set up a course and run it if I want to. And since there's little to no mowing in the winter, the amount of time I have to spend on upkeep is minimal.
In addition to the lights, I recently invited another trainer, Hannah Branigan, to join our association at Cedarfield. She mostly teaches Obedience and Rally in addition to doing behavior consults. I've been taking one of her Obedience classes with Zodi and really enjoying learning the new ways of doing things. I used to do Obedience with my first Dobe, Jemma and my second, Haven but have been away from it for many years. I used to think it was fairly tedious and boring to train compared to agility but Hannah has so many fun games to play that her classes are nothing like the ones I took many years ago. For one thing, they are taught with totally positive techniques--no collar pops!--and for another, she uses shaping for almost everything. Another plus is that it's something I can practice in the house during these really hot days of summer. Today it's suposed to feel like 109F with the humidity factored in. No way you can do agility in that heat!
So now that there are three instructors teaching at Cedarfield, it's inspired me to expand our classes even further. When the weather cools off a little, I'll be offering a tracking class (something you have to have a lot of property to do)and possibly regular agility and rally run-thrus in addition to Sue's and Hannah's classes.
I'm also hoping to host more seminars like the one recently with Sassie Joiris from NY. I'd like to offer more learning experiences that can be shared by people interested in more than one dog sport. After all, dog training is dog training. In other words, whatever kind of training we do with our dogs tends to increase our enjoyment of our dogs and isn't that what it's all about?
We're also in the process of planning our first open house at Cedarfield which is really exciting since it will offer lots of different activities and will also be a benefit for a good cause. I love the idea of pooling our resources as trainers and instructors. I think we can accomplish much more together than individually and we can also learn from each other as we go along. And, let's face it, when we stop learning and just focus on making money, all the fun goes right out of it.
Anyway, these are exciting times for me as I try to reach out into the dog training community around me. I love the feeling that I'm connecting lots of dots into a cohesive picture, hopefully a picture that includes lots of happy and satisfied people and their dogs.