Back from the APDT conference!

Hi all,

I figured a very belated blog about the APDT conference is in order.  I would have written this sooner, but in addition to bringing home new friendships, opportunities, and inspiration ideas, I have also brought home a monstrous flu bug.  While I know some of my co-attendees at the conference were feeling unwell, I choose to blame this illness on breathing recycled air for six hours on the plane with approximatey 300 people (maybe 75 of whom were coughing, sneezing, gagging, and snotting the entire trip).

Unfortunately, this motivated me to cancel tonight and tomorrow night’s classes at CWC.  I will be offering make up lessons for students who are effected by this scheduling update.

Regarding the conference, where does one even begin?

I think I shoud begin by thanking Dogwise for this amazing opportunity.  I had the honor of winning the John Fisher essay contest this year, and Dogwise sponsored my trip to the conference to receive this wonderfu award.  I can’t thank you enough, Dogwise, for both the John Fisher award and the consistent and prolific dog training information you provide for me and other trainers so that we may work to improve the lives of dogs and their people.  I could have spent my entire prize package at your booth and still would have found more books and videos to purchase!  Your staff was friendly, welcoming, and wonderful.  Dogwise, you rock!

I was very glad that we got to have a rehearsal for the awards ceremony on Tuesday.  Despite this, I still nearly stumbled getting out of my chair on my way up to the stage.  I am many things, graceful is not one of them!  I am fairly proud I managed to stay on my feet on stage and avoid making a fool of myself in front of more than a thousand tremendously talented trainers.

The networking opportunity provided at the conference was fabulous.  I got to visit with some old friends and make many new friends.  I particularly enjoyed my tweet up luncheon with some of my favorite twitter folks (at a wonderful vegan deli) and the Karen Pryor Academy dinner (it’s always nice to meet new KPA folks, faculty, students, and graduates). I also think I came home with a few potential new writing gigs, which made me feel less guilty about spending a mint at all the fabulous vendors’ booths at the trade show.

As for presenters, I was able to see some of my favorite ClickerExpo faculty members present (Steve White and Kathy  Sdao, both of whom consistently provide great laughs and even better training information).  I also got to see some wonderful presenters who I had not previously had the opportunity to speak.  If I were to attempt writing about each speaker I enjoyed, this blog entry would quickly get VERY long, but if you ever get the chance to hear Turid Rugaas, Nicole Wilde, Joshua Leeds & Lisa Spector “Through a Dog’s Ear”, Dr. Emily Levine and Dr. Brian Hare, do so.  Every dog you ever meet will thank you for it.

My favorite experience of the conference was Terry Ryan’s Click a Chick workshop.  I had a ball training chickens!  I was fortunate enough to run into some Karen Pryor folks at breakfast before departing to the East Bay SPCA (beautiful facility, by the way) and got a great tip from Tia Guest, who suggested I remove my dangly pearl earrings (which might look like bugs to chickens and thus be pecking targets).  I forgot, however, to remove my rings.

My chicken Margorie thought pecking sparkly things was great fun, so the rings didn’t stay on very long.  Terry was nice enough to provide us with aprons in case the chickens pooped on our clothes.  Luckily, in addition to being well-socialized none of the chickens had “accidents” on the trainers’ or handlers’ clothes, so the aprons proved a fashionable but unnecessary precaution.

I learned that I absolutely love chickens and training them.  We got to work on teaching color discrimination and my only complaint about the workshop is that it wasn’t one of Terry’s four day chicken camps (which are now a “must attend” event for me at some point in the future).  I was also very glad that I was having a particularly good timing day – even the best trainers have good days and bad days and luckily for me and Margorie, I was on point that day.  Clicking chickens will improve your timing, they are fast!  Training a chicken was like training a Jack Russell who’d just consumed a gallon of espresso.  FAST!

I was especially pleased to see how well socialized Bill and Terry’s chickens were.  Despite the admittedly high noise level in the room (Joshua and Lisa had presented on noise overload the day before and this was definitely one of those situations where even I was overwhelmed  by the sound), being handled by strangers (many of us awkward, first-time chicken wranglers), flash bulbs going off, the chickens were calm, cool, and collected.  They were also very clean (having just been bathed), smelled wonderful, were very soft and surprisingly cuddly!  We were taught to hold our chickens like a football and Margorie snuggled right into the crook of my arm.  I was absolutely smitten by this bird and wanted to take her home with me!

Margorie and Me

More Margorie goodness

Margorie, won\'t you come home with me?

While I went to the conference to receive the John Fisher award, I was equally proud of my “Peck Leader” button I received upon completion of the Click a Chick workshop.  Funny the things we humans find positively reinforcing!

I’ll put up some more pictures of the conference soon.

Also, may I just say that Oakland and San Fransisco have great food?  I had Cambodian food my first day, some Vietnamese food, wonderful Indian food and even made it into San Fransisco for a lovely, garlic-filled meal at “The Stinkin’ Rose.”

I fear I have rambled enough, I could go on all day about the wonderful time I had at APDT.  Thanks to those of you who made it so wonderful for me, you know who you are!

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