I’m going back to school – online for now and a hands-on externship later…….
I signed up for the Dog Obedience Training Instructor course at the Animal Behavior College in Santa Clarita, California, as well as three continuing education programs after graduation. In fact, I have already begun my studies and will take my first exam in another 2 or 3 weeks.
The enrollment questionnaire asked what I plan to do once I’ve graduated from the course. I had to say “I’m not certain yet…..” I know for sure I don’t want to work for PetSmart or Petco as a Dog Obedience Trainer. I had my fill of retail when I worked at Office Max for five months in 1997. It definitely is NOT my cup of tea. Do I want to work at the local animal shelter as a trainer? Or at a doggie day care type business? I just don’t know yet. Maybe I’ll just start my own business right away…then I can be my own boss and make my own hours. I don’t have to worry about it for at least six to nine months yet.
Meanwhile, I’ve been considering going back to school for about two years now, since about the time I gave up on finding a job in an industry I didn’t really want to go back to anyway. I knew that I wanted a drastically new career. And I say drastically new because it involves helping dogs become better citizens rather than helping humans find the right bearing, bushing, or even motor, for their industrial automation business. I love dogs; I don’t love things. Anyway, at first I considered the local technical college’s veterinary assistant certificate program. I knew I could pass the “aptitude” test to get past the enrollment process. But I didn’t want to have to travel to the school’s northernmost campus some 20 miles away from the house at least 3 or 4 times a week; and after talking to one of the school’s admissions counselors, I was not convinced that I could do the academic work online at my own pace. So, I just kept putting it off and putting it off until finally deciding that I didn’t want that option badly enough. I didn’t and still don’t really want to groom dogs. I’ll leave that job to my own dogs’ groomer.
Then, earlier this fall I started thinking about the Animal Behavior College. Thinking, but still doing nothing. Something was holding me back. A great many somethings. Anxiety about the unknown, about the cost, about whether I could see it through, about whether I could overcome my microwave-generation need for instant gratification, and a thousand un-named anxieties. One day while visiting a good friend in North Carolina, I mentioned my idea to her. This friend and her best friend risked everything to buy a wonderful motel property and turn it into a mountain retreat. The more we talked, the more this friend encouraged me to follow through on the idea. “You would be GREAT at dog training! You should do it!” And after that visit, she continued to encourage me to follow through with my idea. One day a few weeks later I finally decided to do it. I checked out the school in as many ways as I could think of and then re-checked. I could find no reason why I shouldn’t go through with it.
A few days later I found myself completing the enrollment forms, making monetary arrangements, taking an “entrance exam” that reminded me more of the pre-employment exam I had to take before my last employer would even consider interviewing me, and doing an online “interview” of sorts. And then last Monday I received my course materials. So, here I am, going back to school. Imagine that! Me, making a new start. Me, taking the first step toward a new career. If you had asked me five years ago if I’d ever consider going back to school, I’d have looked at you like you had five heads. Five years ago I wasn’t unemployed. Five years ago I was deluded enough to think I could do something without training just because I wanted to do it. Now I want to learn all I can about helping dogs and put that knowledge into action so I’m going back to school.