K9 Playtime is a FREE services that helps you find your dog’s perfect match!
In 2012 I was a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and 17 years into an IT career. I was working 9 hours in the office, commuting another 2, and then working from home. I was feeling a burnout approaching, but I didn’t see a clear path to change.
At the time I had a 130 lb German Shepherd who was essentially my best friend. He was happy and full of energy, but he had a rare neurological disorder that made it difficult for him to relieve himself when he wanted to, so we spent a lot of time outside so that he had ample opportunities to empty his bladder. When university clinics couldn’t solve the problem we tried chiropractic, acupuncture and homeopathic care. We walked for 2 hours a day and on weekends went to the park and played frisbee or went bike riding or cross country skiing. I took him with me everywhere.
I thought I was taking good care of him and giving him a great life despite his medical issues, but within a few weeks of putting him down after his 9th birthday I realized how much I had learned from him! I had taught him obedience and a few cool tricks and games like fetching my slippers and playing hide and seek with me. However, he taught me perseverance, positive attitude, and to live each moment to its fullest.
With Ike gone I had even more time to think about my life, and it suddenly felt like my contributions at work were meaningless in the grand scope of things. I was also 48, so there was likely the whole mid-life crisis feeling going on. So when I was offered early retirement, I left my job and started to board, day care, and walk dogs. I then went on to acquire dog training certifications with CATCH Professional Dog Trainers Academy, The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers and the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.
I love my new life! I spend my days with dogs that want to learn and play and just get out for a few minutes each day. I help dog owners relieve their guilt for being away for so many hours of the day – something I knew too well, and teach them how to communicate with their dogs. Most gratifying for me, is helping to improve the bond between humans and their best friends.