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Philomena Jean Shields

I became a dog trainer by chance.

I had just finished basic training for the Air National Guard and was sent home as a “break-in training” to wait for tech school dates. While waiting, I decided to get a part-time job.

Amongst my submissions, there was one to a large chain company that was looking for a dog trainer. I submitted my resume despite my inexperience in the field. I was pleasantly surprised when they called me for an interview. I was absolutely astounded when they hired me on.

What happened after that was life-altering.  

After being hired on, I was barely given a couple of weeks to learn the ins and outs of all their offered programs. I spent the majority of my evenings pouring over material and practicing with friends’ dogs. In no time at all, I was leading my first class and being referred to as a “subject expert” in the store though I had almost no knowledge only just a few weeks prior. I began to devour any material I could find on the subject to try and live up to the title. To top it off, the store soon appointed me as the department head. It was an absolute whirlwind. 

Yet, during the entire crazy process, I found I had a smile on my face. I loved walking into a room of dogs and pet parents eager to learn. I loved helping parents understand their four-pawed friends and seeing their bonds grow stronger. I loved the individuality of every dog and working hard to find the best way to guide that dog happily and positively into a desired behavior. I loved being able to guide people through the process of getting their dog CGC certified. I loved all of it and I found myself wanting to do much more than the store offered. I had found my passion.

After a few months of this, my tech school dates became available and I had to leave to fulfill my duties. Upon my return, Covid had hit full swing and my store had to temporarily suspend dog training, at the time not knowing when they could restart. As such, I was forced to turn to my guard work full time for a while. 

Though I was able to find the fun in my work, I would always find my thoughts wandering back to dog training. 

Now that my full-time work with the Air National Guard has come to a close, I am eager to once again follow that passion that I found.