“Compassion is the wish to see others free from suffering.” Dalai Lama
I have been so fortunate to meet so many people who have inspired me since moving here to Utah. One person in particular is someone who I believe the Universe has brought into my life to teach me how to be a better person by her living example. Her name is Petra Sheeley, pictured above with her beautiful daughter Abby.
When I first met Petra it was not under the best circumstances. She left the safety and security of a good income in order to pursue her dreams of becoming the very best dog trainer she can possibly be. However, from the moment they arrived they were faced with a very difficult living situation. It takes courage to make the kind of move she did. Courage fueled by passion. In order to be the best you must work with the best, and that is why she chose to come to Draper, Utah in order to work with Heather Beck at K9 Lifeline. I am so grateful she did! Since working with Petra, I have learned so much of what it means to be courageous, compassionate, and humble. She truly cares about people and their dogs, and it shows through her actions.
One of my first experiences with Petra was while I was working with a dog that was being difficult for his nails. She offered to help me keep him calm so I could work on his nails safely. She was so calm and confident, and offered me advice and tips that really helped me understand the dog’s behavior better. I was so impressed with the way she presented the information – it was with the genuine desire to help. Later she told me that she was a middle school teacher in Boston. She said this is the first year she’s not teaching, and she misses her kids. I asked her why she gave up teaching to come to Utah to work with dogs? She said that she loves working with dogs just as much as she loves working with children, and her daughter has better opportunities here to pursue her dreams of competing with show dogs. “She’s everything to me, and I want to help support her passions and dreams.” I was so touched when she told me that. I almost cried, but I held it together somehow and I told her how much she inspires me. Most people would consider her irresponsible for leaving safety and security in order to pursue her and Abby’s dreams, but I consider it truly inspirational.
One night while we were all sitting outside by a fire talking and getting to know one another, she told me about a few of the students that she really misses. She taught in Wareham, Massachusetts which she explained is not a very good part of town. They have the highest rate of foster children, and there were a lot of troubled students that she genuinely cared about. It started to make sense why she was so good at helping dogs with behavioral issues. Not that children are dogs, but they do have the kind of honesty that dogs have. When a child or a dog acts out aggressively, it helps to understand that they are really just scared or hurting inside. There was one student named Danny who was acting out in class one day and she said, “Danny, would you please sit at your desk?” He yelled back, “What did you say to me?” She calmly repeated, “Danny, would you please sit down at your desk?” He looked at her and asked, “Why did you say ‘Please’?” She explained that she is showing him respect by saying “please.” Petra told him that she would always be respectful, she would never yell at him or talk down to him because she would appreciate the same treatment in return. He sat down, and approached her after class to tell her that no one had ever said “Please” to him before. He told her that he never had anyone be so kind to him. He opened up to her and told her about the problems he was having at home with his personal life, and they had a very close relationship. Danny, unfortunately, passed away – but I believe that she was put into his life so that he could experience compassion before he left this world. She showed him that the world can be kind, and that there are people who genuinely do care.
Another student that she told me about is a boy named Billy. There were a lot of things about Billy that would cause many people to judge him as a bad kid – a problem child. But Petra saw the good in him and showed him that she cared about him. By showing concern for his struggles and listening to him talk about his hardships, she saw a part of him that no one else was able to see. He felt safe to let his guard down with her. Before moving out to Utah she ran into him inside a store one day. She greeted him warmly, “Billy, how the hell are ya?!” He looked at her in shock. “Ms. Sheeley, you remember me?”, he asked in disbelief. “I remember all my favorite students,” she said to him with a smile. I’m sure that he felt sincerely cared for at that moment. She asked him about his aunt and how he’s been doing. He told her that he just got out of rehab, and looked embarrassed but she wasn’t going to allow him to do that to himself. She told him that it was a good thing that he was in rehab. “It shows that you’re willing to get the help you needed to become a better person. Some of the best people have gone to rehab, and you’re one of them.”
There are so many more examples that I could share because she’s literally a walking example of what it means to be compassionate, courageous, and humble. It’s not often you meet someone like Petra, and it’s even more rare to be able to work alongside someone like her everyday. The amazing thing is that I work with an entire team of people who inspire me everyday.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
― Leo Buscaglia
What to do about Hot Spots?
I’ve been getting a lot of questions about hot spots lately, and it is something that many dogs will have to deal with at one point in their lives. There are a lot of things that can cause a hot spot to form, such as insect bites, wounds, and improper grooming. The best way to heal hot spots is to give the skin the best environment to heal itself. This is done by clearing the affected area of any clumpy, fuzzy hair. Then cleaning it with a good antibacterial / antifungal shampoo and conditioner. Then applying a topical treatment made specifically for dogs. I will be giving a demonstration on how this is done in my 3-Day Grooming Workshop coming up this month at K9 Lifeline in Draper, Utah.
There is a product called Banixx that helps heal hot spots and other skin issues. The company has generously agreed to donate to our 3-Day Workshop at K9 Lifeline, October 24-26. We will be offering a sample bottle along with other great grooming products to those who are able to attend. For more information on the workshop, please visit: http://www.k9lifeline.net/id50.html