It’s been a while since I last wrote as not only have I been busy, but I’ve also been processing a vast amount of information since the visit of our American speaker Suzanne Clothier. Quite honestly I’ve been finding it difficult to know where to begin to explain the profound impact she has had on me.
Truthfully I wasn’t expecting to enjoy her visit as much as I did, as leading up to her visit was fraught with stress and anxiety about organising the seminars and providing her with the best possible welcome. Thankfully the reward for all of that hard work has proved to be a friendship with one of the most amazing women I have ever had the privilege of meeting.
Many people know Suzanne as a ‘dog person’, but that really wouldn’t be an accurate description of her. She has a complex interest in all animals and as a result of being such a questioning soul, has a brain overflowing with interesting and useful information to share.
She provided the Daybreak team and our delegates with 4 days of her rich experience and wisdom, a whistle stop tour of her knowledge bank from a lifetime of loving and living with dogs.
Her seminars were practical in nature, and we enjoyed watching her work with several different dogs – they made for thoroughly fascinating co-presenters. The connections she made with the dogs in front of us were so effortless and easy – her empathy for the canine species was shiningly evident for all to see.
Suzanne’s approach is first and foremost about relationship. Her teaching ability is a true gift – being able to connect with people and explain in a language and approach that they can understand.
Her warm encouragement was valuable to each dog and handler partnership that stepped up to share their struggles. Each left with important insights for the future, thoroughly inspired by her explanations and advice.
After the first day we realised that there wasn’t going to be nearly enough time to absorb everything she had to share, but thankfully we think we might be able to persuade her back in the future. And I’m not ruling out a visit to meet her family in the USA. I’ve never been much of a traveller, but for her and the beautiful Hawks Hunt German Shepherds – I could definitely be converted.
Her greatest gift to me personally? I’m not sure I can pick just one.
I’m grateful to her for sharing so much of herself with my family and my special team of trainers. She validated a lot of the teaching that I currently do, and helped my team and I explore new ways of helping the people that we teach. Seeing her exercises in action was a wonderful way to appreciate her thoughtful and effective approach.
Her insights into my canine agility athletes were extremely helpful and thought provoking, and I was further grateful to her for including a copy of her book & DVD set ‘Your Athletic Dog’ in her gifts to me, to advance my understanding even more.
I’m thankful for how clearly Suzanne demonstrated the underlying message to all of the work that she does - how important and fundamental relationship is to the learning process. Without a connection, it doesn’t matter what you might have to share – with it, anything is possible.
But the biggest gift? Well have you ever met someone who you felt instantly at home with? Well Suzanne turned out to be that sort of person to me.
Suzanne was an easy person to greet with ‘hello’, but a much harder one to bid ‘goodbye’. I collected a visiting US speaker from the airport; on the return journey I tearfully dropped off a good friend.
One of the most extraordinary things about dogs is the people that they lead into our lives. As a result of my canine family I have friends scattered around the globe. The sort of people who are easy to pick up with again, even after time apart.
My hope for you is that your dogs lead you to some truly interesting and inspiring people along your journey together, as mine have blessed me with many times over. As Suzanne would say, ‘Here’s to the dance!’.