I was in Colorado a couple of weeks ago for a few days of hiking and painting and for a “Dealing with Difficult Dogs” conference with Sarah Wilson and Brian Kilcommons. The conference was another fabulous opportunity to watch Sarah and Brian teach and work with untrained shelter dogs that they hadn’t met until that moment. Sarah did some quietly spectacular work with some shy/sensitive/deficit dogs. As always, it was wonderful to watch the shy dogs move in a matter of minutes from shut down and fearful to sweetly trusting, as they discovered that Sarah was trustworthy, safe, and kind. I never grow tired of watching Sarah win the confidence of these dogs who have never known that a human could be a pleasure to bond with.
Brian worked with independent dogs and on-leash aggressive dogs, and he, too, is always impressive and eduational to watch. His confident and skillful timing and use of the leash to help move the dog into respectful connection is a dance of sorts, and I came away with new mental images of how to use the leash and improve my timing to give a dog more helpful feedback and effective communication.
On the third day of the conference, Sarah and I co-taught a full day of hands-on intensive learning. Over the years Sarah and I have developed a seamless teamwork as we’ve worked together, and it was a real pleasure to be doing so again. The students were fabulous to work with and were very impressive with their handling of the many dogs we worked with at the Longmont Humane Society that day. In the afternoon Sarah demonstrated how she teaches loose leash walking. She worked with multiple dogs of a wide variety of temperaments, and all were walking nicely beside her in attentive, happy connection within minutes.
In addition to the dog training parts of the trip, I greatly enjoyed seeing friends from all over the country and Canada, some of whom I had met before and others whom I was meeting for the first time at this conference.
As for the hiking and painting, Colorado in the fall is GORGEOUS. Rowan and I hiked through Chautauqua Park to see the Flatirons on two different days, and we drove and hiked in Rocky Mountain National Park one afternoon. I could easily spend a week in RMNP, but that will have to wait for another trip.