In Georgia, I had a trainer I adored. I really connected with her style and the way she related to both the humans and the dogs she was working with. So, when I came to Minnesota, I asked her for a recommendation. The trainer she recommended was almost an hour and a half away. I looked around the cities, but wasn't able to find anyone.
Then, I found out that a friend of a friend had trained her dog for very similar tasks and for a very similar purpose as I was planning to train Samwise. (And there really aren't many people out there that get what I need Samwise to do.) She and I got together for coffee, and then I observed a class she was a part of. I talked to the trainer, and I liked her quite a bit. So I had an option! Plus the friend-of-a-friend has also offered to help with some of the very-specific-tasks! (SUCH a blessing!)
Today, I met with the trainer who is an hour and a half away. Going down, I was a little hesitant because she was a little more expensive and she was so far away. When I met her, though, things clicked. Like, maybe even clicked better than I had ever clicked with my trainer in Georgia! She uses an remote electronic collar, and that really scared me even though everyone I've talked to says it's fine. I just didn't want to hurt my dog! She placed it on my hand and had me feel it--it's no less intense that the STEM treatments I've received dozens of times! And Samwise really reacts to it. He actually seems to enjoy training more with it--I think because it's clear and direct communication. Plus, he still gets cookies.
I also liked the pace at which the trainer worked. Right now health wise, my brain moves more slowly than it has in the past, but I'm still motivated and intense at heart. Annalissa moved fast enough to keep me feeling challenged but not so fast that I wanted to cry when I got home. (I've done that.) It feels realistic. Also, with the PTSD being so intense right now, I have trouble in groups and in situations where I'm being observed. A regular group class has both. Annalissa obviously watches me work, but it's really laid back and supportive. I also think our personalities click, so I'm less nervous working with her than I have been with any other trainer. Which is good, because training is intense as it is.
Finally, she's goal oriented and realistic. She realizes that I'm driving a long way, and she doesn't want this to drag on forever. In fact, she thinks we might be able to do most of the work in as little as four sessions!
So far, I've taught Samwise sit, stay, down, heel, off, stand, come, and place, but things aren't always 100% as sharp as they need to be. So, this week, we're stepping back and reviewing some of the basics with the new collar to help. Even tonight, I noticed a huge difference. I'm so excited to see my dog responding so well! It's so fun to watch puppy Samwise slowly becoming big-boy-adult Samwise :-)