Beginnings and Endings

What I love about being a professor is that there are regular endings and beginnings -- in fact, there is a cycle of them that goes on and on and on. I like finish lines just as I like goals, and those two things are related -- beginnings involve goals and objectives, and at the finish line you evaluate how you did.

This cycle promotes a certain mindfulness because I am constantly having to start new things -- and then end them and plan for the next semester. Students are new, knowledge is new -- and all that "new" keeps me thinking and planning and setting goals. I have the best job in the world.

This familiar cycle started in kindergarten and I have lived it for decades now, and I suppose it is no surprise that I apply it to my dogs and their training. I set goals, adjust them as needed, and evaluate them at the finish line -- or end. And then I start over.

Each new beginning is a chance to go farther -- happily I graduated from kindergarten, and then elementary school. I did not graduate from high school actually -- that was kind of a bust but I did get a BA with High Honors and then went right on to graduate school, earning an MSW and PhD.

I train dogs like I approached my education -- one step at a time, with an eye on both the present and the finish line. You do not get a Berkeley PhD because you wish for it -- you get it by working very hard and crying a lot and feeling stupid and trying something else and learning you do not know as much as you thought you did and finding humility -- and then some expertise. And then the semester ends and you start over. This is a lot like training and showing dogs!

And academia is not always nice -- like the dog world, there are big egos that need to feel smart and important and on top. When I interviewed at Montana I literally asked if people were nice at the School because I did "mean" at the University of Evil and was not going back there again. One new faculty member said, "if they were any nicer I would puke." So funny -- and so true.

In general, people in Montana are different -- they are real and genuine and nice. There is a spirit of cooperation -- and respect for your right to do it your way. You rarely encounter rudeness here, and there is just no pretentiousness. It is safe, friendly, beautiful, honest, and nice in Montana -- I love it.

The dog show world needs to learn some lessons from Montana -- we all do.

Here are a couple of the locals, Spot and Dot.

That picture of Levi and Erin really touched some people -- thank you for sharing that. Levi brought with him on that trampoline his grandfather, Zaltana, and Jennifer's lovely boy as well -- reminding us that those we hold close to our hearts can never really leave us. They reach back to us through a memory - or a picture -- reminding us that we are still together, even if apart.

 

3 comments

by Marianne on Sat, 08/27/2011 - 13:39

I want to congratulate you Mary Ann, for the way you breed, train and show your dogs. I just shake my head at those folks who are so lame in appreciating all that you have accomplished. Some people, actually a lot of people are just a waste of space...
Good to hear the folks in MT have their feet on the ground. Sounds to me like you are living very close to heaven. :D

by Anonymous on Sun, 08/28/2011 - 10:44

I have too found some meanness in the dog world. People are down right Catty and back stabbing... but those of us who are nice must not give up because it is niceness that can make a difference. Nice people are able to educate without judging or belittling others. We can show people that dog shows really don't have to be political or boring. When you go to a dog show you are asking for an objective evaluation of your dog.. "expert opinion". It's very important to the breed. These dogs are the future of the breed!! If that isn't important I don't know what is?? It's funny people always have to ruin everything. None of the dogs at the show are mean to each other it's us rotten people. Instead of being mad at someone for their successful breeding (which in a lot of cases involve some luck and lots of research) Congrats to you for breeding a nice dog that fits the standard :-) Keep it up and help others breed nice healthy dogs... we need that in this breed!!

by Heidi on Sun, 08/28/2011 - 19:31

Nice is as nice does, to amend an old phrase a bit. Kaibab does it right. Head to toe and/or tail. Everyone else should try a bit more of that in their own backyard.

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