Monday, August 8th, 2022, was my first day at the Training For Professionals: Across Species course at the Karen Pryor National Training Center (The Ranch) in Washington state. I attended this course with my good friend, Cindy Benso, of Benson Maremmas, who was taking the course for the second or third time. The weather was nice enough that most of the lectures and videos could be held outdoors on the deck, with the beautiful view of the pastures and barn with Mount Rainier (sometimes) visible in the distance. This was a great environment to learn in with breaks in the morning and afternoon for live animal demos and hands on animal training practice. Lunch, snacks and drinks were also served every day, with dinner three of the five nights, as well. Considering everything that is included in this course and the sheer breadth and depth of the learning it was well worth the $1200 price tag for the 5 day course. And the entire course and trip is a tax deductible business expense!
On the way out to the barn for our first animal sessions we were greeted by the Alpacas and Llama. While they don't like to be touched they are very curious and came up quite close to get a look at the new students!
Our first live animal demo was a Goat Training Demo given by Ken Ramirez, starring Kelpie.
Monday afternoon we had our first try at Goat Training. I was assigned Corgi, a Nigerian Dwarf wether who is very smart and was usually waiting for me on his training pedestal when I arrived. Corgi already knows a lot of skills but I quickly discovered that I needed to keep moving at a fast pace and keep things interesting so he wouldn't decide to wander off!
The first day ended around 6 or 6:30 PM. It was a long day but we covered a lot of ground and learned a lot. By the time we got back to the hotel we were ready to crash!
Training for Professionals: Across Species at the Karen Pryor Academy National Training Center (The Ranch) in Washington State
I have just spent the last week (August 8-12, 2022) enjoying a "working vacation" (tax deduction, yay!) at the Karen Pryor Academy National Training Center (The Ranch) in Washington State, where I attended the Training for Professionals: Across Species course with my good friend, Cindy Benson, of Benson Maremmas Training, and 11 other students. It was a wonderful week filled with hands on training sessions and live demos with various types of animals, in class lectures, videos and much more. I myself worked with goats, mini donkeys and alpacas and saw demos with those animals as well as dogs.
There were students from as far away as Colombia and Hawaii. Among the students were dog trainers and breeders and trainers that work with marine mammals, zoo animals and even chickens! Besides the coursework itself it was very educational just talking with all the students about what it's like working with these various species. It was also a very positive, encouraging and uplifting environment for humans with everyone supporting and inspiring each other to learn and grow in their skills so we can all go out and make a better world for animals and humans.
Before I was even halfway through the course my wheels were spinning with ideas I could implement at home, especially with my goats, which I had always wanted to clicker train but hadn't tried. While working with my training partner, Corgi, a Nigerian Dwarf wether, I quickly saw the value of using dog training platforms to train goats and I went back to my hotel and ordered 6 of them from Blue-9 Training to use with my goats and Maremma puppies. They arrived before I even got home so I will be setting them up and trying them out ASAP.
Previously to going to this course I had never been north of California so being able to visit Washington as well as Oregon was a wonderful experience, especially in August when the California Central Valley, where I live, is an oven!
What a great view for class. If you look in the photo on the right you can see Mount Rainier in the background. We got to see that view whenever the conditions were right and it's breathtaking!
Back in April I began going through a premeditated and relentless attack on my business from a group of several people including competitors and other individuals. I love what I do and have worked very hard to get where I am so this experience was extremely difficult and caused me extreme stress and severe PTSD symptoms. Eventually I had to hire an attorney to help me fight these people but even with my attorney it was a very hard battle that I often felt I would never win. It was truly the most difficult experience I’ve ever been through, and I am a cancer survivor so that’s saying a lot. (At least cancer isn’t personal.) During the middle of this experience my good friend, Cindy Benson, encouraged me sign up to attend the Across All Species clicker training course at the Karen Pryor Academy Ranch in Washington, with her. The course would be held in August so the timing was perfect, as kidding season was over and I had no young puppies to care for. It would be a great way to further my education with training my Maremma Sheepdogs as well as my dairy goats. I had long been interested in learning to clicker train goats but I'd never really tried it. This course would be focusing on all different types of animals but the main practice would be goats, so I knew it would be perfect for me. I really wanted to attend but I was concerned that I should not invest the money in this course, in case I needed the money for legal fees. The course itself was $1200 and there would be airfare, hotels and a lot of other expenses. So although I really wanted to take the course I was very torn. In June I received an email from Cindy, in which she "pestered me" in her words, to attend the course. She reminded me that this course was being held at a perfect time for me and that might not happen again because it is not always held at the same time every year, and it's not often that things line up so well for me to be able to get away from the farm. Then she told me about a similar circumstance she had been in where she was going through a tough situation and was having trouble deciding whether to attend the KPA Professionals Course or not. She said that she thought about it and there were two things that she decided:
1.She needed the distraction. 2. She refused to have her goals be a casualty of her situation. She told me that she fought HARD for every shred of that coursework and looking back, it means more to her to have earned that certification because of it.
What she said really struck me. I knew that I DEFINITELY needed the distraction and that, despite what I was going through, I had to put my animals' needs, my education, my business and my mental health first. Like Cindy, I had goals to improve my skills and knowledge as a trainer so that I could better serve my animals and my customers and I was NOT going to let anyone stop me from achieving those goals. I had to step out in faith, spend the money to go to this course and let the other stuff take care of itself.
So off I went to the beautiful state of Washington, where I have never been. Some of my "issues" were still going on as I was leaving on the plane to fly out, and some of them were still going on while I was there. I really had to fight to keep my focus on being in this course and not letting these other distractions ruin what I was there to do. It was not easy, I will tell you that. I had turned off commenting on my blog before I left home, to prevent further attacks there and so I wouldn't be compelled to reply. But staying off of social media in the evenings was super hard and I didn't always manage it. But every day I went to class and was surrounded by people who live to train animals in positive and kind ways. Not only was I learning how to train through hands-on training with all different types of animals, demonstrations on different types of animals and in-class instruction and videos, but I myself was being immersed in a positive reinforcement environment. Everyone there was encouraging and kind and truly focused on not only helping animals but on helping each other. There were people from all walks of life, different parts of the country as well as out of the country. People from different backgrounds. Dog trainers, people who work with sea mammals and zoo animals, people who train chickens, dog breeders, doggy daycare owners and all different kinds of people. What we had in common was our love of animals and dedication to helping them and the people who care about them. Thirteen students and several instructors and assistants together for 10-12 hours a day, for 5 days in a row and no drama whatsoever. The longer I was in that environment the more I began focusing on what really matters, instead of worrying about this other stuff. I began to get excited about all I was learning and all the ways I could see myself implementing what I was learning into my breeding and training program (dogs and goats) as well as ways I could help my customers and others learn how to be more successful with training and communicating with their animals. By the time the last day of class came to an end I was more excited and optimistic than I've been in months.
On Saturday I drove with Cindy to visit her ranch in Oregon (another state I’d never been to) on the way back from WA. On the drive I told her that I know without a shadow of a doubt that if I had not let her "pester" me into taking this course I would still be immersed in all that other drama and stress, in a bad place and not able to get out. She had been absolutely right. I had NEEDED this course, in more ways than one, and like Cindy, refusing to let my goals be a casualty of my situation will pay off, big time. And I will value what I learned even more because of what I had to go through to get here and because of how hard I had to work to stay focused.
I spent Saturday afternoon visiting Cindy's beautiful 360 acre Oregon ranch. I met every single one of her 27 Maremmas, meaning I petted, talked to and spent time with each and every one of them. Twenty-seven Maremmas! Twenty-seven smiling "White Dogs", as Cindy calls them. I also visited her companion dogs as well as the three Maremmas and several other dogs owned by our friend, Kathy, who we visited on the way to Cindy's. It was a day filled with dogs, as well as goats (including several of my Mini Nubian wethers that I had given Cindy a few months ago), mini donkeys, mini cows, mules, horses, ponies and sheep. It was a great day and a great ending to a great week! And tomorrow I'll fly back home to California where all my smiling Maremmas, goats, horses, companion dogs and other animals will be waiting for me, along with my family and friends. And I'll go forth and use what I learned this week, as well as my newfound focus, to make the world a better place for all of them.
Me with my training partner, Corgi, on the last day of the course. I learned so much working with this smart little guy and can’t wait to implement what I learned with my own goats! I already have 6 training platforms waiting for me at home, to use with my goats and dogs, because as soon as I used one with Corgi I knew they would be invaluable tools for training my animals. Of course I ordered purple! 💜
Me getting a Maremma fix with Hannah and Milan, two of Cindy’s wonderful dogs. Milan (the one who climbed on the table with me) is the sire of two of my dogs, Marisa and Pax, so getting to meet him as well as all of my Benson Ranch dogs’ parents was so great. 💜
On the way home from the Training for Professionals: Across Species course at The KPA Ranch I got to visit Benson Ranch. This was a dream come true and equally as exciting as the course. I met each and every one of Cindy's 27 Maremmas, as well as her other dogs, her donkeys, goats, cattle, horses and mules. It was a great day!
Doing a little grooming table training with dried chicken. The dogs love this game!
There's so much to see on the ranch, and so many wonderful dogs and other animals to meet!
Once Again, Heather from Kuz we Kan Farm nailed it! And blew me away with her compassion and kindness.
I’ve been at an All-Species Clicker Training course at the Karen Pryor Academy National Training Center in Washington state this week so I haven’t had much time to blog but I wanted to post this wonderful video by Heather of Kuz We Kan Farm. I spoke to Heather at length on Monday. She is a wonderful lady. Very kind, intelligent and articulate and very passionate about dog breeding and training. She is my kind of people! And so is her best friend, Kimmy. Please take the time to watch her video and follow her channel.
All the flying monkeys have had fun trashing my house. And a lot of very kind people have visited to weigh in on matters that are near and dear to me and to stand in support of me and Abby, as well. But I am done being bullied. I have a life to live and much better things to do with my time. I am closing comments on my blog for a while. I am going to The Ranch - The Karen Pryor National Training Center, in Washington State, to take a week long All Species Clicker Training course with my dear friend and Maremma Trainer Extraordinaire, Cindy Benson. I am going to learn how to clicker train my goats and lots of other animals, as well! Then I am going to visit Cindy's amazing Ranch in Oregon and meet all her amazing Maremmas and other animals. I will get out of the California heat and see two beautiful states I've never visited, get to further my professional education as a breeder and trainer and also get to have a lot of fun. And if I'm lucky I might get to meet up with my BFF for life, Becky, and maybe see a few other special people as well. These last few weeks and months I truly feel I have been through The Hunger Games. So I am going to take the words of Effie Trinket to heart. I am going to find then life of a victor. Because I have earned it.
Finally, someone gets it. I have absolutely no idea who this person is but she said every single thing I have been trying to say for months. She did get a couple of minor details wrong (the ages) but overall, she is spot on. I absolutely love this woman. She’s right. She is a professional trainer and breeder and very intelligent woman and she said everything I have been begging people to listen to.
*****Update: As of 8/30/22 I am still under attack by this Social Media Influencer and his fans. He just this week made a new video about me, asking his fans what they think. And as expected, his fans have come to let ME know what they think with fresh attacks. I don’t see this stopping anytime soon because he’s making too much money off of attacking me, especially since it’s so popular to bash breeders.
Social media is a great platform for educating and entertaining people. But when an individual uses their platform to bully and harass other people that is just wrong, no matter how you look at it. And people who follow such a person are as guilty at the person doing the bullying.*****
I have been fielding, answering and deleting nasty and bullying texts from psychopaths since the afternoon of 8/2/22, when the "Social Media Influencer" posted his "call to action" video titled "Spilling the Tea on the Abby Drama". There was no explaining done, just more lies and half truths and garbage. But there were several very loud and clear admonitions to not "go harass the breeder" from the SMI. And like good little fan boys they got the REAL message loud and clear. If January 6th was an insurrection then this was the copycat crime. They came, they saw, and they raised hell.
I had a long post almost finished but I accidentally deleted it. I don't know how except that I have been dealing with this garbage on my blog and social media accounts for over 24 hours straight with no sleep. At first I tried to answer good and bad comments. Then I got weary and disgusted and started deleting the bad ones. And of course, the more I deleted the more rabid they became. I have heard of cyber bullying, but until now I never understood the sheer evilness of it. With the stroke of a keyboard countless cowardly bullies from all over the world can viciously attack a person they have never met and know nothing about. They can cause the most unimaginable pain, stress, sorrow and PTSD imaginable, all to hurt someone who never did anything to them. And all it takes is one cruel, heartless person to make the call to action. Then he just sits back and pretends to be the affable, humble homesteader from Vermont.
After spending half the day deleting these horrible comments I went and put them all back up on my blog. Every single one. And then I opened comments so the flying monkeys could have at it. I didn't put the comments back on Facebook but don't worry, they will be back there soon enough. But I think there is nothing better to illustrate who this person truly is and what his intentions have been all along than the words of his own rabid fans. I said it in my blog post a few days ago, with great power comes great responsibility. Whether you have 10 followers, a hundred, a thousand or a million or two, you decide what to do with that power every time you post a video, blog post or photo. And this Social Media Influencer has decided to use his huge platform to Cyberbully someone who wanted nothing more than to sell him a beautiful, wonderful puppy she bred and lovingly raised, and then later to advocate for that puppy and defend herself from his premeditated attacks. I hope you are proud of your god now.
I will continue to allow these horrific posts so the world can see who this man really is. I won't respond to the psychopaths, but I'll let them run roughshod over my blog. The world can see the man that incited death threats to an elderly hunter and picked fights with any business or individual that seemed like a good target. Then they can watch him attack me, through his fans. And when he is done with me he will come for you. Just wait. Don't think it will happen to you? I never did, either. But here we are.
NOTE: I am no longer taking comments on this post or defending my position. Since the “Spilling the Tea” video Abby’s owner put out I have been inundated with hundreds of comments to my blog and social media as well as by phone and email. Many were kind and supportive but many most definitely were not. I have been called every name in the book and even been told to kill myself. I have been threatened and harassed relentlessly. I have also had countless people try to argue with me and convince me that I am wrong or must not have watched the videos. In fact I did watch them several times, and I know a lot of background information that the viewers don’t know and I can’t share for legal reasons or because I’m protecting the privacy of certain people.
I also know perfectly well how to use quotation marks but was trying to put emphasis on certain important points. More like “air quotes”. But since that bothered a lot of you I fixed that. The ones I left are actual quotes.
Another thing the fans keep insisting is that I started all this. That is 100% false. This was started by Abby’s owner with the “Our Puppy Had Surgery” and it progressed from there. Go read the comments in that video if you don’t believe me. The fans had some really choice things to say about me and their leader let them do it. That was the point of the video and with each video after that he continued to push his narrative that I had somehow cheated him and that Abby was badly bred. (An insult to any breeder.) I truly tried to ignore it and wait for things to settle down but there came a point when I could no longer do that. That point was the video in which Abby’s owner called me a puppy mill and placed “Failure” next to her photo. I know it was clickbait, but it was not ok with me for him to do that, and I spoke up.
The fans keep insisting that Abby’s owner has a right to his opinion and a right to share his opinion, while simultaneously saying I do not have the same right. That double standard is ridiculous. I have the same right to free speech that Abby’s owner does. Just because some people don’t like what I have to say that doesn’t mean I should not say what I feel needs to be said.
I let the fans have their way with my blog and social media accounts for a while just so the world could see what he unleashed on me, but I’m not going to let that trash ruin things for everyone else so I deleted all the garbage. After taking screenshots, of course.
I have spent a lot of time defending myself to his fans, trying to explain my position to the people who disagree with me and want to defend their star. Obviously I’m not going to change anyone’s mind and I am done trying to do so. People just keep asking me questions I’ve already answered and arguing the same arguments over and over. It’s not helping anyone: not me, not Abby, not her owner and not her fans. It’s pointless and we all have better things to do with our time. At least I do. So as of now we will just have to agree to disagree. If you have kind or constructive things to say you’re welcome to contact me privately. I’ll be happy to discuss the matter with polite people. But if you just want to argue or be nasty I will delete your comments and block you. I’m done letting hateful people ruin things for everyone else.
Some people are claiming that I offered to "make restitution" to Abby's owner. That is NOT what I did. I offered to BUY HER BACK. I did this because I truly felt that Abby was not a good match for his farm and because he was unhappy with her. It was an extremely generous offer. He could have taken the money and bought a dog that wouldn't frustrate him so much, and she would have been able to be placed in a setting more suited to her. He came back and asked me to pay him $4000 and let him keep Abby. How was that supposed to help him or her?
And why, if he and so many of his fans keep insisting she "doesn't have the genetics" to be a poultry guardian, wouldn't he take me up on my offer? If it's because he loves her then I can understand that. But the constant videos where he clearly expresses his frustration tell a different story to me. I know he said she's "not really" all those mean words. But I don't buy that he doesn't think it and that he's not making her out to be just the failure he says she "really not". After all, he told his fans "don't go attack the breeder" and yet, here you all are.
People keep coming here and complaining that they don't care what I have to say and don't want to hear it. Ok, then why do you keep coming back? I'm not sure if you understand how blogs work. People who like to write share the things they care about with others. People that like to read or care about a particular subject go to the blogs they like and read the posts. If you don't like what a blogger has to say, or don't care about the topic, or you hate the blogger's guts, you are free to leave. No one is making you read my posts. But I don't have to stop writing them just because you don't like them, or because you don't agree with me. Because there are other people who do care about what I have to say. Some people even enjoy my posts. And even if they don't I write for myself. Because I enjoy writing and care about my subject matter. So if you don't like my posts or you don't like me, please, go on back over to your favorite video channel. I'm not over there on HIS channel causing a scene. So why are his fans over here?
But whether you decide to stay or go and even if you continue to try to make obnoxious posts I do want to thank you, very, very much. Because every single time you click on my blog or attempt to make a post you are improving my SEO tremendously. Seriously, I've checked my insights and they're through the roof. So thank you!
Author Hi I'm Kim. I love all animals but goats and dogs are my favorites so I built a business around them, breeding miniature dairy goats and Maremma Sheepdogs. I love sharing my passion and knowelege of these amazing creatures with others.