There were a few different elements which lead to my leaving LHS years earlier than I had planned to. The long and short of it is that I no longer felt I could make a difference at the shelter and so I decided to aim all my efforts into the young business. Before I would feel secure in leaving, however, there was one thing I had to have. I needed to be able to offer a big ticket item, like Board and Trains, and to do that I needed a premises. It just so happened that the perfect premises to suit my immediate needs was attainable. My parents own 25 acres south of town and when I asked them if I could re-purpose their garage (which was mainly used for storage) as a training room they generously accepted.
With blessings from my family and the unwavering support of my husband, Claven, I resigned as the Animal Assessment Specialist and dove into the complicated world of full time small business ownership.
The first step was creating the training space. The garage was cleared out, scrubbed, and painted. The floor is still bare concrete but finishing the floor is in the works. Before I started advertising Board and Trains to the public, I trained some family and friends' dogs to make sure I had a system down and had everything I would need. By summertime I was advertising and scheduling Board and Trains to the public.
Since then I have never been without steady work. I have been surrounded by a family who loves me and supports what I do (it takes a special family to say "yes, please bring untrained dogs into our house every month"). I would be a very poor example of a dog trainer if I did not credit my demo dog, Kylie. Much of my success I owe to her. We went to school at the National School for Dog Trainers together and it was there that I learned that even with the most well educated and experienced dog trainer can lose business without the use of a Demo Dog (for example, would Cesar Milan be where he is without Daddy?). It was also at school that I learned how fortunate I was to have such an exceptional dog to work with. Kylie challenges me every day but she also is responsive and willing to work. There is also something to be said for her striking appearance- she makes obedience look good. She turned 4 or 5 this year and 10 years old looks a lot closer now that she is getting stiff at night and her joints have started popping. At this point she looks far from retirement, thank goodness.
In 2013 I hope things will continue to grow and prosper for Free State K-9. I hope to have more Puppy Preschool sessions and to expand the specialty training offered here. When it comes to upgrades I hope to be able to finish the floor in the training room this spring. We are also going to further our advertising by reaching out to businesses in Lawrence with flyers, brochures, and business cards advertising our services. In the works already is a take-home folder for Board and Train clients to refer to after they take their newly trained dog home.
I look forward to 2013 with excitement and determination that this young business will only become stronger in the coming months. FSK9 turns 3 years old in August. Perhaps I will do a promotional or something fun to celebrate.
Happy New Year!