There has been a lot of talk recently about leadership and education in the pup community. I thought I might share some of my experiences, perspectives, and direct observations as they pertain to this topic. I’ll start by saying that, as with everything, there is always room for improvement.
First, let’s understand that many studies have been done to determine how adults learn best. Let’s also be clear here, when we talk about our community we are talking about adults. While classroom learning is important, adults learn the most through experiences and connecting new information to past experiences. The reason I bring this up is that it is important to recognize that learning has many forms. So let’s move on to the reasons I don’t agree with the statement about education. I’ll try my best to stick to observations and I’ll start with education/learning, both experiential and classroom.
- I see people identifying a need for community and interaction (remember that we learn through experiencing) and acting to create local PAH groups etc for their communities. These groups have created events and opportunities to meet and learn from each other. Several also have created events that have large percentages of classroom learning as well as experiential and social time.
- I see people working hard to create larger groups and events to help share knowledge and get the community together. A few examples are the PAH summit that has happened at a few larger events and the larger events themselves like IPAHW, Regional Contest Weekends, Paw and Pounce Weekend, Puppies in the Mountains, Puppies in the North, Camp k9, Woof Camp Weekend, and many more that exist now and are being created.
- I see people trying to tackle hard issues around mental health, suicide, mentorship, education and more. Some examples of these initiatives and resources are the many workshops lead on Mental Health and what to do if someone is at risk, Project Touch Base, the Inter-Fetish Coalition against suicide, PAHs without Borders, Puppyplay.info and many more.
As you can see that is a lot of focus on learning in our community. So why don’t we look at the second part of the statement about leadership. Here is what I see.
- Non-Titleholders and Titleholders alike who are involved with, leading and developing all the things I referenced above.
- Past titleholders staying involved, teaching and sharing in their local and wider communities.
- I see a current International Trainer who’s main focus is Community Development and inclusivity.
- I see a current IPTC International Puppy who’s focus is mental health awareness and visibility as well as inclusivity.
- I see a current IPC International Puppy who’s main focuses are sharing stories of ourselves but also our predecessors in puppy and outside puppy, being vulnerable, and inclusivity.
- I see pups and handlers and dogs getting involved organizations like Titans of the Midwest. An organization dedicated to learning and development.
- I see people from our community getting involved in the boards of other larger organizations and events to help everyone learn as well. Take a look at the volunteers and board of several large events around the world and you’ll see pups and handlers in many places.
- I see regional titleholders staying in touch with their communities and trying to be a lightning rod for ideas and needs.
- I see people who have no desire to be a title holder working their butts off. Teaching, learning, sharing, growing.
These are all examples of Leadership in our community. I could go on a lot longer but you probably don’t have all day and neither do I. Could our community get better? Yes, emphatically. Do I have specific ideas? Yes I do and I am already working on them and have suggested them where appropriate. I believe that the best way to affect change is to identify a problem AND possible solutions. Otherwise we are just contributing to the noise of the void.
Let’s continue to build a better community together. Let’s identify shortcomings and work to remediate them. But let’s not ignore all of the amazing things happening that we enjoy now. The things that build us and that we can build upon.
Yours in Service,