The last couple of months have been full of great events! I won my first buckle and Cowgirl Tuff Company’s “How Tuff Are You?” Contest. Gigi and I have gotten faster and have landed in the 2D! We got tickets to the NFR and I am going for the first time ever! Checking that off the bucket list and hoping to meet some of my role models, like Fallon Taylor! And, of course, getting engaged this last week was the highlight of the year!
I have been able to connect with all kinds of different people, from barrel racers, veterans and fellow widows. That is exactly what I want to do! I started sharing my story just recently. It has been a great experience and I feel it is starting to lead me the direction I was meant to go.
Have you discovered your “calling”? I remember going to Regent University and hearing this word for the first time. I had no idea what my calling was at the time or what it really meant.
YOUR CALLING IS A LOT bigger than just your job. God asks us to give our entire lives over to God’s call to us. You get a hunch, a feeling, a nudge. You sense that you are supposed to use your gifts and talents in a certain way.
I started out as the good kid trying to do the right thing and take the responsible route. I was too afraid to follow my true passions because they didn’t seem realistic or attainable. The most level-headed thing seemed to be to pursue a degree that would most likely lead to a stable, well-paying job, like Business. I didn’t feel 100% about this in high school and just couldn’t pinpoint why. I was good at business classes and liked them. That seemed good enough. But that unsettling feeling wouldn’t go away. That is when I found the Navy.
I felt really good, excited and motivated about serving in the military. I felt like I would be doing something worth while and doing something significant. While it was definitely was scary leaving all I knew behind and all of my friends, I somehow knew it was where I was supposed to be. I loved the Navy, for the most part. There were challenges, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I was a Parachute Rigger (PR) and maintained Pilot and Aircrew Survival Gear. It was an awesome job. I learned a lot from serving. If I hadn’t met Tyler I would say there was a good chance I would have been a lifer. But life had other plans, obviously.
When I finished my enlistment, Tyler was on deployment and I went to Montana State University. For Business. I still hadn’t figured it out. I was too scared to try less conventional paths. Then I moved to Virginia and started school at Tidewater Community College. At the time, that was all the tuition my GI Bill would pay for and I had to cover my books, etc. still so I continued on with pursuing my business degree. What was I going to do with it? Well, I didn’t quite know….Get a job?
I had started working with a dog trainer in 2005, when I got my Australian Shepherd, Sugar. I was still in the Navy and figured I probably wouldn’t be able to work with horses again anytime soon. But, I could get a dog! I had been looking at frisbee competitions and herding for quite a while before I got Sugar. I wasn’t deploying again and planning to get out. So, I started taking herding lessons and learning about how to actually train a dog…..not just have a dog. I LOVED it. Of course. Working with animals had always been where my heart was.
From there, I became obsessed, some would say passionate, about learning about training. I spent countless hours studying, researching and training for the next five years. I ended up focusing on clicker training and positive reinforcement. I worked in a dog daycare and learned so much about dog interaction and body language. It was an invaluable experience and stepping stone. I then got a job at a kennel that trained and sold working K9’s as a kennel worker and did some pet training on the side. That was a great experience and I learned a TON! I finally put some of those business classes to use and started my own training business and became a professional dog trainer. Next, I got Alex, my first German Shepherd and heart dog.
Eventually, in 2009, I had an AMAZING opportunity to become a EDD (Explosive Detection Dog) K9 Handler and be instructed by some of the best trainers out there, Von Liche Kennels. By this time, I took a break from college and pursued this dream. I was in heaven. I loved every second of that experience! It lasted about six months, as the contract with the Navy was cancelled after they trained all of us, because they decided to go a different route, instead of contractors they wanted government employee police. I was really disappointed, but was told we would have a good chance at being hired as government employees and continuing on with what we were doing. But, that is not what happened.
To be continued……….