I’m a Mom, a business woman, a dog trainer, a gardener, and a wife. There might be a few other things that I am, be these are the relevant ones, and they keep me plenty busy.
This past week I was doing the final preparations for a seminar that I was hosting. The advertising and marketing end of this event had been finished months earlier. I was now just making sure that everyone had the hotel rooms they wanted, the menu and numbers finalized, gift bags stuffed, wine and tapas gathering set to go, pool tables reserved for ‘after after hours’, film crew on the road, and so forth. I love, I mean love, hosting events. It’s simply my thing.
Because I had so much going on, so many details, my kids activities, my dogs work, and my business, I kind of never got into the cool emotional space of what was about to happen over the weekend.
And then I found myself in that very surreal moment in my kitchen, heating up chili, putting chips in a bowl, and filling a water glass for Roger Abrantes. I stopped in mid stream and just stared at him, for a very long second, most likely way longer than that, but not enough to be creepy I hope. It was that moment, that crazy moment when life hits you smack in the face. Holy crap, Roger Abrantes is in my kitchen.
You see, I went from Ian Dunbars book How to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks, right into Abrantes book, The Evolution of Canine Social Behavior in 2005. Apparently that’s how my brain works, tricks and evolutionary behavior go hand in hand. The following year I had seen Abrantes at a conference in Portland Oregon. I liked him from the moment he started to speak. It doesn’t hurt that he has a great accent that makes listening easy, but he also made difficult material digestible. That, in my opinion, is a gift. I knew that some day I would bring him to Montana, but I just didn’t know when. He was officially on my list though.
Over the past seven years or so, I have read most of everything he has published, in English of course, and followed his blog. I like what he has to say, it’s really that simple. This past year I felt it was time, Montana was ready for Roger! So I e-mailed him, he e-mailed back, I gave him a time frame, he gave me his, I said great, he said yes! WOOP! It was really that easy, that straight forward, and that perfect on every level.
The seminar filled beyond my projections and quite early. This is always an awesome feeling, and a really good sign. He had a topic lined out for our group that sounded great, he was going to be in the USA touring for a couple of weeks before hand, so flying into Bozeman wouldn’t be as big of an ordeal as coming from over seas. I didn’t have to panic the night before about international flights and all of the ‘hoo haw’ that can come along with them.
I worked a full morning, had appointments out on ranches, worked my dogs, went to my children’s drum ensemble, and whipped up the worlds best bison chili before heading out to the airport.
And then there he was. Telling me about himself, his travels so far on this tour, all the while eating my food. He stood in my kitchen like he had been there 100 times, that lightness of being, that easiness, that only world travelers share. Maybe I did stare past the point of comfort, just a bit. Roger Abrantes is in my kitchen!
We went over some of the weekends details, schedules, ate some more, and talked about changing the seminar topic. Roger wanted to do something special for our Montana gathering, something he had never done before. As the host this was both a potential nightmare, and super exciting. Advertising one event and presenting another is a gamble at best. Sometimes it’s a silky transition, and other times a washboard country road with nails and tacks everywhere! My feelings were, if this brilliant mind had an idea, we should go with it, I would handle the rest. Besides, Roger Abrantes is in my kitchen!
And then my children came home from school. If there was ever a moment of kindred spirits, this was it. Piper, Renn, and Roger started talking about everything and nothing, they were all so easy with each other, and so perfect. I did the dishes while they chatted away, it was perfect. This was going to be a good weekend!
Like any host, you feel the need to arrange activities for your guest, even if they tell you they need to work. There is an obligation to entertain, well those are my feelings anyway. Dinners, a trip to Yellowstone, pool, etc. We set up bits and pieces of Montana for him to experience. Mother Nature had other ideas, snow, wind, rain, and just a wee bit of sun. It was Montana beautiful by any standard, but the Montana blue bird sky is the jewel, and made just a guest appearance for a few minutes.
Our conference room started to fill on Saturday morning. Some of the most talented trainers from Montana, Colorado, and beyond started to fill the room. It was a gathering to be sure. Smiles, hugs, and greetings from friends I haven’t seen in a very long time. New faces and people to get to know better. Relaxed, comfortable, and ready to rock!
Roger started speaking and off we went. He set the pace for the weekend, and then introduced his new seminar just for us! “The 20 Principles All Animal Trainers Should Know”. This turned out to be so perfect on every level. We had family pet owners, professors, shelter staff, professional trainers, and a few horse trainers there. This met everyone’s needs, and encouraged better training for stronger results, using scientific principles.
Gaining new knowledge, refreshing some things I may have put on the back burner, and trying to wrap my head around new concepts are all well and good. But for me, I learn best with someone who can also impart life experiences, wisdom of the ages, sage. For me this is what makes it so real.
The two day seminar went by too quickly, as is the norm. It was awesome, no glitches to speak of, and as the host, this is always a good thing.
While Piper is teenager busy, and didn’t get to spend too much time with us outside of the conference, Renn by far made up for it. It would suffice to say that Renn has a mentor of sorts, in pool, food, and travels. And what a cool mentor to have! Roger mentioned that because he liked my kids so much, I was OK. But for me it is the other way around. Anyone so kind and honest with my kids, and who my kids like hanging out with, is OK with me. So the feelings are mutual.
I have lots of photos from this weekend, but this one makes me the happiest, and probably the only one you will see. Everything good!
Next time Roger is standing in my kitchen, I hope to have better control over my staring, hopefully it won’t be too surreal next time, but more like a world traveling friend coming to Montana to teach. OK, I will let you know how the staring goes next time.
Here is to learning, laughter, and kindness … may we all have more of it!