I write so often on dogs and their scenting capabilities but I don’t often mention the handlers… the students that make this sport rich and alive. This blog is about the value of a student.
Every week, students of Nosework bundle their dogs into the car and head to class. Every week, the instructor has hides set out. We set these hides to build your skills and you always rise to the challenge. Sometimes you may struggle with a certain scent puzzle but even then the result is valuable. You know what? You aren’t the only one being stretched and schooled… so are we! An intrepid student is the source of most of our learning and education. Seriously! Watching and learning from you teaches the instructor more about this sport than any clinic or seminar or other instructor for that matter can do. You are the teachers. You provide the training and the education. Education is a circle… we provide skills and knowlege and so do you. Never underestimate your value.
So since we’ve agreed that you are VALUABLE… where does this leave us? With economics and the laws of Supply and Demand! Yes, you are the demand side. You rule the equation. You vote with your feet and your dogs’ noses. You say “Jump”. You hold the key. Seriously, you do. Yes you not only hold the $$’s but you also hold the experience of working with you and learning from you. A good instructor recognizes this.
So this begs the question, “what makes a good instructor”? Clearly capability and understanding of the scent organizations, trialing and scent theory tops the list. What about flexibility? A good instructor needs to be able to be flexible and problem solve based on your own dog. Experience? Of course! (I’m not getting into the debate of certified versus non-certified… that’s a kettle of fish I think needs to be left alone!) How about compassion and a good sense of humor? What about just being NICE? A good instructor needs to be able to see the positives in every team and the potential that every team brings to the table… if not, how is it possible to build and improve your student? Does your instructor have PASSION for Nosework?
So you see, your value as a student clearly delineates the job title of instructor. An instructor is no longer a teacher without having students. You and your team defines the trainer in very intimate ways. Our sense of purpose and success in this sport is defined by YOU.
So instructors, if you read this and it makes you uncomfortable, it’s time to do some self reflection. Ask yourself WHY you teach. If it’s not something along the lines of wanting to see ALL of your students blossom and grow or at least be something about your students, think long and hard. This journey is not about our growth, our accolades or our achievements…. it’s about our students’ and of course, their dogs, for which without we would not be in this business.
So students… know your value.