In this story, Janice explains her life long connection to animals and how her experiences working with animals have become her most fulfilling achievements.
Janice: I have to say I was drawn to animals from the very start of my life. As soon as I—I grew up in the woods basically and explored a lot and can’t remember a time where animals weren’t special to me. I had a parakeet when I was a kid, as an adult I’ve had dogs, cats, rabbits, snakes, turtles, fish, a wonderful rat who traveled around on my shoulder, mice, gerbils, guinea pigs—I’ve might of left something out but you get the picture.
When I got to be an adult, I read more, I learned more, and I started to support a lot of animal welfare organizations. And I got older I transitioned from animal welfare to animal rights. And basically, now I think I support both of them.
The experience I’ve had with the most depth was also volunteering for a shelter, but this was for their training department. I worked as an assistant trainer for five years. I had just—I just learned so much. I mean, I was essentially was just thrown out to the training and floor and said, “ok now you work with them.”
Rebecca: Oh my—what were you working with, dogs?
Janice: Oh yes, dogs. Many of which were shelter dogs, and a lot of those owners were kind of really at the end of their rope because they couldn’t get the dog to respond the way the wanted it to and it almost was like we were the last stop before being returned to the shelter. So I realized that my biggest job was to make get the owners to like their dogs, and to get the dogs to trust the owners, and to get them all to realize training was fun. I had an amazing assortment of dogs. In five years, you can imagine—a golden retriever who wouldn’t work at all for treats but would do anything for a hug; a Doberman pinscher who had to do everything behind a curtain because she was so frightened of all the other dogs. I had dogs—little Shih Tzus—who had terrible abuse histories who just tried so hard. They were so earnest and so brave. There was another dog there who was being raised in a bilingual household and we had to say, “Bueno! Bueno!”
I was never bored. I was in my element. I became the hotline for my friends and family who were having trouble with their dogs, and I only stopped when I moved away. When I moved away from Massachusetts to Maryland. I do consider it one of the greatest experiences of my life.
Rebecca: That sounds so incredible.
Janice: I’m proud.
Rebecca: You should be.
Janice: You know, I’ve had a lot of jobs, a lot of professional positions, and I have two master’s degrees, but when people ask me what I do, well I say I’m a former dog trainer because I’m just so happy that I did that.