When New Year’s Eve rolled around this past year, I remember thinking, “I accomplished a lot in 2014. I got my KPA certification and I finally got the Manager of Special Events promotion I wanted at the shelter… I guess 2015 will just be a coasting year.”  Boy was I wrong.

As of next Wednesday, I am officially saying goodbye to my full time, 9-5 job as an event planner. Yup, I’m doing it – I’m moving to training and behavior full time!  I’ve accepted a part time position on the behavior team at the Washington Humane Society and then will be expanding my role with Dog Latin Dog Training.

What does that mean? It means that for two and a half days a week I’ll be working with shelter dogs – evaluating them for adoption, running playgroups, doing behavior modification, teaching volunteers and staff about positive training as it relates to shelter animals, working with adopters, and so much more. It also means that when I’m not at the shelter, I’m working with private clients. It means I have more time to devote to them and their dogs. It means I can make my own schedule. It means I have time to actually blog (!!) and to organize more presentation opportunities and to do continuing education. It means I get PAID to put 110% of my effort and my heart and my soul into exactly what I want to do. Every. Freaking. Day.

I feel so thankful for the four years I spent in nonprofit development. Being an event planner for two different animal shelters taught me so much. Event planners have to be organized, detail oriented, good at working under pressure, able to multitask and really good at working with people. Thanks to the years spent mastering these skills, I consider myself relatively business savvy and able to connect with people in a way that will help me accomplish my long term goals in the dog world (and I’ve got some big goals!).

While I enjoyed my time on the admin side of helping animals, there was no denying the nagging feeling that dog training – specifically as it relates to the human-canine bond – was my purpose in life. I recently went to a TEDx talk about “being rebellious.” One of the speakers really stuck out to me. He talked about his experience breaking away from his own set status quo, and how it was scary, risky and against the norm, but so necessary and exciting. What resonated with me most was when he said, “You don’t make a difference by staying comfortable.”

So I left my comfort zone. It was scary to let go of my 9-5 job. It was even more scary to let go of my consistent paycheck (duh). But as soon as I made the decision, everything felt right. Even when I told my coworkers at my current job, I got the response, “Well that took longer than we expected :-).” This is where I’m supposed to be, and I couldn’t be more ecstatic (I’m literally tearing up as I write this). Welcome to this new ride you’ll be joining me on, you guys. Cheers to growing up, taking risks and following your passion!

Moving Forward

To say that Johnnie got adopted at just the right time would be an understatement. In the days and weeks following her leaving us, people would ask me, “How are you doing without her!?” The truth is that I barely had time to think about how sad I was. Of course I missed her, but life picked up to what felt like lightning speed and hasn’t stopped since. Johnnie Cash was a reminder of why I try not to foster during event season. While we all adored having her around, my understanding parents spent many evenings watching her for me while I was stuck at work for long hours. When she left it was a bittersweet relief to be able to be away from the house for days at a time (just call me ‘schlep’!!).

I know you’re all wondering what’s next. Well, I don’t have a good answer for you.  Things are changing for me right now, and in fact there is a lot about life that’s up in the air. I’m finally moving out this summer, but that means my ability to foster is probably going to be limited. It’s likely I’m moving into DC and I just have no idea what my life style will allow.

I’m also in the process of switching jobs. I accepted a part time position at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington in Virginia at the end of March and have been juggling both shelters (and commutes!) equally since then. I’m officially leaving the Montgomery County Humane Society at the end of June – a change that is bittersweet, exciting and scary – and will then continue with AWLA and other adventures, hence why I am moving into the city. It’s been an exhausting challenge but I’m thrilled to join the AWLA team and officially “cross the [Potomac] river” as they say here in the DMV!

In addition to all this, I’ve started working towards becoming a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT). I’ll tell you more about that as it progresses, but I’ve decided that I can no longer ignore how much I love learning about training and putting it into practice and watching the wheels turn in dogs’ brains as we work together. Johnnie got me so hooked on figuring out how to communicate with a bouncy dog. It’s going to take a long time – years, probably – but I’ve already kicked off my education. Not sure where it’ll take me but I am very excited about all I am going to learn.

Virgil Ocampo Photography

Virgil Ocampo Photography

So forgive me that I am not running to the shelter to scoop up a new foster. I want to, believe me – but I am simply not as brave as Love and a Six-Foot Leash who picked up a foster dog right before they moved to Texas!  Because I can’t take a shelter dog home and I’m already falling in love with them right and left, I’ve thought up a few different ideas for helping them get adopted, which of course I will discuss on the blog in the coming weeks. My current crush is a pit bull/bull dog mix named Henny. I see Johnnie’s energy and happiness in her and just can’t get her out of my mind. So I will help her, just not through long term fostering.


It feels different declaring a “break” this time around than it did the last two times because I have so much on the horizon to look forward to and plan for. I’m at a completely different point in my life right now than I was after Baxter and even after Otis. It’s crazy to realize how much things have changed in just a year and a half. It’s also pretty nuts to think about the fact that you all have been with me literally every day during this journey! So we’ll keep moving forward and seeing where life takes us. Thanks for sticking around :)