Ponderings of an old Dog Trainer

If you have a strong desire to be a great to superb dog handler or perhaps a dog trainer one day – here are  five traits you must either inhabit or cultivate.  There are probably many more, but this is what came to me in a flash
A. Willingness to find a teacher that you listen to wholeheartedly without wanting to interrupt. Questioning is great! I have found that regular interruption is a whole different energy and negates the process of learning
B. Practice practice practice. Mind body connection with leash and with the dog is not an easy feat. Daily practice – make it a hobby, a ritual, a consistent habit -you go to every day. Make it become your meditation that you truly look forward to and not just look at as a task to complete
C. Put aside you past and preconceived notions about how good you were with your old family dog , how much you learned elsewhere, how much you have read online …and start with a fresh clear attitude, especially when working with a brand new trainer. We all come with some foundation. We all come with an attitude that wants to prove to someone else how much we know about dogs.  
Come from the Student Mind and truly listen. Be very present, even if in your lesson you don’t think it resonates with you or applies to your dog- put aside your assumptions and listen anyways. I would listen to my teacher Alon. He might repeat something I’d heard 100 times the week before – but the way he said it and how he connected it to a brand new dog – it was always, without question, an aha moment ,every moment. It’s rare for me to find students that take in this kind of knowledge this way.. and when I see them truly listening – I say to myself – they are meant to work with dogs

Otherwise ,The ego gets in the way.

D. Work with dogs that are easy first. I can’t express enough how hard it will be to easily develop an excellent mind-body skill set on leash with a reactive strong dog. . Or if you can’t find a calm dog to work with, because your dog IS reactive- work first in the quietest of Settings. You must HONE your skills in areas and with dogs that quiet your mind before you can go in to the loud world. Too quickly can ruin the learning, leave you overwhelmed and judging the dog wrongly.
E. At the same time – after you have practiced for many months, with a solid trainer behind you.

Not everyone is meant to be a superstar dog handler or expert trainer . Not everyone has the timing, presence, intuition. Find where you excel -When you walk with the dog down the street with your personal skill set ,and it makes you truly connected to him – stay there for a while. That’s your sweet spot. Relish in this moment 🙏
Kathy Kear

It was all meant to be

Each of my dogs were divinely meant to be my family. . We were meant to find each other in this lifetime. It was divine intervention. I’ve rescued / fostered hundreds of dogs in the last 25 years but From them – these seven were meant to be my family
Each individual taught me a deep life lesson in all aspects of Mothering.

Coda- introduced me to what it means to be a mother and nd the responsibility of loving and caring for  the most innocent, amidst the chapter of my life that was wrought with wildness and excessiveness- she always pulled me back home.
Benjamin- to be a mother and take an abused dog and help build him into a dog that experienced  the WHOLE world differently because of  Loving leadership. My son who lead me to everything I am today. A true teacher of expansion.

Lucille to mother a complicated emotional being and learn how to unconditionally honor her emotional needs, by putting aside my ego. I learned how to radically accept you which brought more acceptance to my own wounded self
Madeline – to mother a being who was wiser than me. To serve as mother to a supreme  higher soul and lean on her soul for comfort and grounding
Abbey- to mother a little girl, the apple of my eye. To love and protect the pure goodness of a child. And see in her the little girl in me and love her too
Patrick- to mother a divine soul with unconditional play, sensitivity and open hearted ness. To fiercely protect and nurture the most sensitive of my children
Bernie- to mother a mother. Bernie the mama dog whose entire essence is softness and sweetness. This girl has propelled my heart to soften and expand amidst all the worry and anxiety this current life chapter has brought

I honor and love each of you forever. My children, my teachers

There is and will never be 100% guarantee, because of you

I’m feeling really frustrated today I got an email from someone and I’m going to share parts of it here. This was a potential client I worked with months and months ago and they said they would be back in touch to start working together. This dog is a vibrant slightly fear full large hound girl. I never heard from them again until this email this morning and frankly I am enraged that they put all this on the dog, they’re threatening to give up the dog in not so many words and they want “ hundred-percent “guarantee from me.

Where is the responsibility people?!

Hi Kathy,

I am sorry that we are getting back to you so late, it’s been a very hectic summer/fall for us. We are both now working full time and we have moved to a new house with more space. Addie is not adjusting well and we are (once again) at the end of our rope.

Two incidences in the last two months have been of particular note. In the summer, she bit my brother’s hand very badly when he came into the house when I was at work, and just yesterday she bit a neighbor who was reaching over the fence to give her a treat while I was doing errands this weekend.

As I mentioned before, the compressed air and treats do work pretty well, but A and I don’t think that just “managing” her for the next 10 years is reasonable. We can’t be there every second of every day, and the few times that things have gotten out of our control, she has lost control. Our new neighbor has two small kids, and I could not live with myself if she hurt them. I hate to say that I am giving up before even trying your program, but I don’t think I will ever feel safe with her and other people again and having her be 100% dependent on me or A for all of her needs at this stage in our lives is also impossible. She is entirely unpredictable and we can’t travel, we can’t leave her at home, we can’t go out with her in public. We are stuck being hermits with a dog that needs two hours of exercise a day.

What I need to know from you is, even if we go through your program, will I ever feel 100% safe about Addie when I am not there to be with her? Is there any way to be sure that she can live a life outside of her crate that doesn’t involve me or A being with her 100% of the time?

My response :

H A and S – I’m so sorry to hear about these incidences. I’m going to be very straightforward here- both of these incidences were your human error.
You have never gotten any in-depth training for Addie for this aggression and because of this she has no comprehension how to handle being surprised by someone coming in the front door or Hands being flipped over the fence. She just did what many dogs would do – reacted to surprise that happened to be on her territory.

She’s gotten no clear in-depth instruction because there’s been no comprehensive program. You guys have just been winging it since we met several months ago.

The hundred percent guarantee I can say is she 100% needs training from someone seasoned in reactivity and aggression

I have no idea how far she would go in the program because it’s about 25% about the dog and 75% about the humans that actually follow through 100% on my commands, daily instructions, including affection, exercise, correction, obedience, structure in the home, skill set handling that is above average.

Because every human being I work with is extremely different – some malleable while some resistant. Some open-minded while some confrontational – there is never going to be 100% guarantee about any dog training program and if a dog trainer tells you that they’re full of crap
It Comes down to the owners personality and attitude and secondly the dog.

I’m only taking one a few select cases anymore with highly motivated, highly realistic, ready to diligently practices and listen to Me without argument ( I welcome healthy discussion)

I’m taking two new cases on for December
. If you’re interested in working with me I’d be happy to schedule a phone call to get all your questions answered .

The single most important bit of advice I can give you right now is to not put her in any situations where she does not feel ,safe until you have a strong consistent skill setthat you learned from a seasoned trainer. If you do that then I can guarantee 100% she won’t bite anyone

Do we ever just love a dog that doesnt have the responsibility to meet our self centered need?

I take issue…with driven sports that are very popular in Ca. Bite sports, Agiity, AKC Obedience, Fly Ball, etc-

The handler/owner LOVES their young vibrant dog when it is performing well. Most of these sport dogs are bred purposely for the sport. These people rarely to never pick from a shelter or rescue group- they want the best of the best. I call it the Eugenics in the dog world.
They express so much love for their working dog while he is competing. They eventually put their other dogs, often rescues, below the hiearchy of importance in their home.
and sadly, when the dog continues to under perform- they quietly stop raving about them on facebook, continue to look at their other dogs( rescues or non performing) as not that important-
What is the continued solution? Breed another and another until we find the “perfect sport dog”. I fuc@#$% beg to differ that these sentient creatures are only here to be bred for your ego.

Meanwhile their dogs at home become just pets that live a lonely life. Afterall, they don’t matter as much as a potential superstar.


My GREATEST priveledge has been tending lovingling to a old dear precious dog that trusted me to her dying days…no matter how well she performed.



The Touch that matters

The Touch that really matters.

People always get so concerned in initial consultations when I talk about affection. Tonight I met with a couple that constantly pet their very nervous reactive shepherd mix while she often thought about biting me simply for standing up or moving.
It’s very important to understand when affection and touch is a good thing and when it is a very wrong thing to do.

To put it simple – Too much mindless on -going affection is seen as weakness from a dog. Even if they love you and adore you- They see you as weak. They don’t trust that you can really take care of them when it matters. We give our dogs endless amounts of affection because it makes us feel good, without thinking of how it affects their state of mind when they are under stress. We do it more for us than for them. This is the truth.

If we become very very present with our dogs – you will come to see when touch and affection is the exact right thing to do. It’s truly an energetic response to a need that creates calm rather than anxiety

Let me see if I can give you an example.
My dogs get loads of exercise and then I come home -I put them in downstays on their beds , after their dinner and while I have a multitude of tasks to do before relaxing in front of the TV. As I walk around the house – I see that they are alert watching me but not leaving their downstay. After about 30 minutes I come over and sit with them and lovingly pet them for about five minutes each and immediately they go into a full relaxed state of rest and sleep. They simply needed my reassuring touch to enter deep relaxation.
If we become very present and intuitive about touch – it’s almost like you can read your dogs mind to know when he needs it and when it is not in his best interest. It’s really a profound experience of awareness.🙏

A dinner with a colleague who is just starting out

I wrote this  blog right after all if she  left because I truly feel that I wanted to impart this  because you are such a beautiful strong woman and I don’t want you to become bitter  with clients that drain Your life force ,when there is another way.
I learned this very late but in the last 10 years it has made a difference. And I’m sorry if I bitched with you along the way and gave you the impression that strength was the only way to go when an open heart is just as important
The balance of an open heart with boundaries – it is very hard to navigate but ultimately it is the way to a richer career and ultimately a richer inner  life.

Being boundaried  and strong while having a soft heart

-Don’t make business decisions based on frustration anger or resentment
-Don’t categorize all clients as difficult. Listen and see yourself in them first
-Relegate other lesser  tasks to employees so that you can be there fully present and less frustrated for your clients for the most important conversations, training and attention
-If you are overworked – recognize this right away and hirer helpers so you don’t take out your fatigue and anxiety on your clients
-Let go of clients that are truly challenging and will never be satisfied. Hold onto those that just need coaching and understanding, and inspire those that inspire you!
-remember you were a client once !

Remember that this life journey is about softening and opening and learning and that boundaries are necessary yet  having a soft open heart doesn’t mean that boundaries should make you closed and restricted.

Boundaries don’t define you. They just give instruction and clarity to others. Your open heart and your open mind will ultimately be your legacy❤🙏

My Abbey, it’s been six months

Loss of a Beloved is Like nothing else in life. It’s been six months or so since my little ray of light left this earth – and I’m  still brought to my knees every time I look at a photo of her.
I can only probably think of her about five minutes a day and then my heart breaks and I push the grief away.
Where is she? Where did she go? Is she safe? Is she with my other children? Is she at peace? Is she free? Does she see and feel me?.

The biggest thing I think about is how much I don’t want her to come back in another body on this planet. I find this planet quite excruciatingly painful with its myriad of challenges. I’m really hoping that she stays in that blissful unconditional love and presence plane that I know she is abiding in . It’s a crazy thought because I have no control over her soul. I just want her to never feel pain, loss, worry if I am not physically there to be her mama.

These are the things I ponder alone at night. All of my beautiful beautiful Beloveds that are no longer with me. I pray with every ounce of my being that they are for ever free and safe in God’s  loving embrace. Until we meet again

My painful trigger

Having a dog that won’t eat, for me, is like having a child with anorexia .
It started with my beloved stoic strong Madeline many years ago where she went 13 days without eating. Those 13 days were pure hell. I tried everything with her – McDonald’s, barbecue, home cooked meats and she barely ate anything for 13 days.
I remember sobbing and holding her. We did a battery of tests and finally an endoscopy revealed fairly significant inflammatory bowel disease. We were already fighting her mast cell cancer so this was a  diagnosis which freaked me out- now 2 serious diseases to contend with.
Once we got her on the right restricted diet and added it in a high dose of prednisone to reduce the inflammation in her bowels – she started to eat. For the next several years – she would have flareups and I would end up hand feeding her often, sobbing on the kitchen floor.

Then came my little angel Abbey’s diagnosis of kidney disease. For years she was not really that affected but the last three years or more – we saw specialists. and Things began to look eerily similar to my Madeline’s plight. Kidney disease affects the appetite and the dog must be on a low protein low phosphorus diet. Once again our meal times were the center of my days – often wrought  with anxiety.

A good day was determined by how much she ate.

The last year got really bad . I can’t  bear to relive it in this blog in full but I will say we fought so hard. We fought with all of our might. My little ray of light.

Recently Patrick started showing signs of inappetence and I immediately had an increase in anxiety. Here we go again I thought. Why won’t my child eat?!  Once again I was hand feeding him on the kitchen floor – cooking all kinds of organic meats but he still turned away.
More tests and finally an ultrasound showed low level inflammatory bowel disease. The same disease as my Madeline. It was not significant yet but because he is a very sensitive boy – any nausea or discomfort made him not want to eat.
We put him on budesonide – a steroid for the gut and on a very strict rabbit meat only diet and within two days he was eating. I was overjoyed. We now have days where I still have to hand feed him. I don’t hesitate. As soon as I see him unsure about eating – I just sit down lovingly with him and hand feed him canned rabbit and Kibble.

And karma would have it – Bernadette Rose has shown inappetence. I think she might be following Patrick’s anxiety around food. She really looks up to him. I’m doing everything as consciously as possible to not project my own anxiety. That is no easy task.  I sometimes hand feed her as well. I remain extremely calm and gently encouraging. Maybe she will need testing one day too.

Yes I strive always to be a strong assertive leader and hand feeding my dogs is not in contradiction to this position.  I will do anything for my dogs well-being. I will go to the ends of the earth for them, always. I love them with every ounce of my being. They are my children after all❤

Hardass with an ever softening heart

 I’ve become a hard ass in many ways in my approach to working with people. I’ve been doing this almost 20 years, and my behavior and belief  system, many years ago working with my own trainer/teacher are exactly the same that I see in most of my clients.
I  can pretty much end my clients sentences because I know what they’re going to say -when it comes to why they can’t do it, why it isn’t working, why it’s so hard… Because I used to say the very same things to Alon!

I  can walk into a house with a troubled dog and owner  and see everything crystal-clear without the client telling me much at all.  I see the hindrances. and I see the potential solutions. The last few years I’ve become really straightforward .  I do this because I’m here in the bay area for a limited time now and I honestly just want to cut through the crap  of our own self-imposed prisons and to help people see the larger vision that can lead to so much miraculous change 🙏

BUT  I have been thinking the last several days  ( and want this expressed here) -I have often have no idea what is going on in someone’s heart and life.   I have no idea that maybe they lost their best friend. Maybe they lost their job. Maybe they found out their husband is leaving them. Maybe I need to lay off in my judgment and teaching when they’re showing resistance. Maybe I need to stop being a hard ass for a moment and just be quiet and listen.

Just because I’m a hard ass, doesn’t mean that I should not pause and remind myself that someone could be having a very hard day or a very hard moment in their lives and to keep my heart wide open.  Sometimes being the “expert”  means lovingly and compassionately accepting the student, without needing to teach her anything in that moment❤

The Grief Circle for Gracie, Sesame, Pippin, Abbey, Skyy and Moose

Several wonderful women and I held a grief circle to honor our Beloveds that have passed . I made an altar with photos, flowers and candles. We listened to a few beautiful songs,  We had a 5 minute silent meditation to focus on connecting with our beloveds, and then one at a time, we  shared   We all held a sacred space for each of us to cry, express grief and sadness, as well as celebrate the miraculous love we have for our beloveds.  Then we did a red circle grief ritual, lead by Ruth.  It was a tying  and connecting together of red yarn in solidarity of our expressed grief.

I am profoundly moved by these amazing women, who have the courage and strength to bare our broken hearts.  Thank you for this precious gift of connectedness.