Everyday Miracles with Dogs | Dancing Hearts Cognitive Dog Training

Archive for category: Everyday Miracles with Dogs

Want more “Happy” for You and Your Dog?

December 6, 2018

Amazing!! It’s almost 2019 … where did the year go? It must be true that the older one gets, the faster time passes. And, there is current science that suggests that time IS actually going faster!

One exciting aspect of this ‘fast-moving time’ is that we can see the results of our plans and actions quicker than ever before. That, coupled with the ending of one year and the fresh beginning of a new one just around the corner, means there is no better time than now to set you and your dog up for success in the new year!

So, let me ask you:

Do you want more “Happy” in your life?  (who doesn’t)

Do you want to enjoy each day a little more?  (duh, right?)

Do you want 2019 to be the best year ever for you and your dogs? (doesn’t that sound awesome?)

I have two simple, easy things you can do right now to get that rolling for you. Everyone can do this, it takes very little time, AND your dog will remind you constantly!


Tip #1:

When you LOVE what you already have in your life, you’ll get more of the same.

It all starts with natural laws of our world:  we will attract into our experience what we are in vibrational resonance with. Simply put, everything is energy — you, your dog, your emotions, your thoughts — yep, all energy. That’s because everything is made of molecules, which are made of atoms, which are made of subatomic particles…which are pure energy.

Energy, by nature, resonates with and attracts back to it things of the same resonance, or frequency…just like a tuning fork brings a particular piano string into resonance. You’ve likely heard the expression “like attracts like”, that’s resonance. So, if your thoughts or emotions are centered around fear, anxiety, or lack (of anything)…you literally draw those things to you like a magnet.

Don’t want that now, do we?

One great way to turn that energy around, and attract more useful things to you is to feel, acknowledge and express gratitude. Expression of Heartfelt Gratitude is one of, if not “the” most powerful ways to change your life. Teaching myself to practice gratitude every single day is one of the best things I have ever done…for me and for my dogs!

And, when I think about it, I learned this lesson from my dogs. When they’re happy about something, they show it!  And, furthermore, they spend their time anticipating what great stuff is about to happen (cookies, walk, ball, play, dinner, massage) instead of lamenting about what great stuff they wish they had.

So, in it’s simplest form, all you have to do is be happy and grateful for all the great stuff you have in your life, and anticipate all the great stuff that is going to happen soon.

Pretty cool, right?

It’s pretty easy once you get started…the great feelings that flow when you practice gratitude automatically generate more great feelings that attract more things to be grateful for! Start today. Start with your dogs.

Kathy Kawalec and her border collie Luc share a loving momentFor example, TODAY:

I’m grateful that I get to nurture a partnership with my beautiful border collies.

I’m grateful that I can spend time outdoors with my dogs.

I’m grateful that my dogs are healthy and sound.

I’m grateful that if needed, I can take my dog to the vet for care.

I’m grateful that I am healthy and sound enough to work my dogs.

Im grateful that I can make the time to work my dogs.

I’m grateful that I have warm clothes and boots and rain gear that keep me comfortable when I’m outdoors with my dogs.

I’m grateful for the feel of my dogs soft hair and warm skin under my hand as I stroke their heads.

I’m grateful that my dogs and I have F-U-N when we work and play together.

I’m grateful for the honor and privilege of having such a relationship with my dog…whether we win, lose, get eliminated or have to scratch…I am grateful.


 Tip #2:

Get Ready for all the great stuff that you are anticipating!

So, how do you “Get Ready”?

The simplest way to get ready for all that great stuff you’re anticipating is to plan for it. Planning is all about getting your ducks in a row so you are ready when your great stuff shows up.

Planning helps you to get clear on what you want so that you’ll recognize it when it comes. And planning helps you to get ready in baby steps, so you don’t have to rush around like crazy when you realize that you’re not ready. Makes sense, right?

Planning also helps you to get organized with your training sessions and allows you to develop a finely tuned sense of where you are and where you want to go. You will become attuned to your dog each and every time you work/play together and that allows your dog to give you great feedback about your training and handling.

Here’s a simple way to start:

  • Begin to ask yourself useful questions before and after each session…and before and after each phase of planning. Questions like

    “What skills do I (or my dog) need to rehearse in order to become competent at the desired level?”

    “What do I need to change or improve in order to create the results I want?”

  • After each training session, ask yourself:

    “Are we better now than before the session?”

    If your answer is “no”, change what didn’t work and try again.

    If the answer is “I’m not sure”, go back and repeat the same to become sure.

    If the answer is “yes” and if your answer is usually “yes” then you are not challenging you and your dog enough.

    Those words of wisdom are passed down from trainer Bob Bailey. Wise indeed! We can’t get better if we don’t challenge ourselves, right?

To take this one step further, begin to Create Your Plan for 2019.

Start with taking inventory of the skills and the level of partnership you already have with your dog in each area. Then visualize and determine where you want to be…one area at a time. Be quite detailed. See and most importantly FEEL, what it’s like to accomplish your goals. Take in every detail and write them down.

Kathy and Sue Meeker 2012 closeNext, create a plan of action, step-by-step that will get you to your goals. You can do that by the training session, by the week, or the month. Be detailed enough that your road map will guide you well along the way, without bogging you down in too many details. Your details will come into play before and after each session. If you’re not sure, get help from your coach or instructor.

Record your training sessions…in a journal or logbook.

Write notes for each session and for each competition: What went well…what are you happy with? Be specific. Record the relevant environmental details of the session too.

Then, what would you like to change or revise for next time? What would you like to improve? What is your plan for making those changes?

It’s important to focus on a positive outcome and remember it’s so much easier to teach a dog to “DO” rather than “DON’T”.

For example, “DO keep a good shape to your flank” is easier to teach than “Don’t cut in on your flank”.

It’s so important is to nurture a positive mental attitude and engage in self-talk that helps you reach your goals.

Always speak to yourself in the present tense as if you already have the quality you want. “I am calm and confident.” Use positive phrases, (avoiding the words ‘not, won’t, can’t, should’)…such as “I am relaxed” vs “I am not tense”…or “I am focused” vs “I will not be distracted.”

Review your plan every month or quarter, compare it to your training journal, ask yourself those useful questions…make adjustments and move forward. Have fun, be happy every day, and remember tip #1.  😉

And…I’ll leave you with these thoughts to ponder …

“If you always do what you’ve always done you will always get what you always got.”

“How am I going to live today to create the tomorrow I am committed to?”


Join us for the 2019 Creative Alchemy Passion Plan program…you’ll be so happy you did!!



How Gratitude Can Accelerate Your Dog Training Goals

December 30, 2017


Gratitude accelerate your goals

In Part 1, I shared 5 tips for using gratitude to create a better relationship with your dog and reach your dreams. Now, in Part 2, I’ll share some advanced gratitude strategies to accelerate your progress!

Gratitude and Goals in Harmony …

While it seems that being grateful for who we are and what we have right now is contradictory to the idea of setting goals for a better life experience … they can indeed coexist. I believe that practicing gratitude is a simple way to accelerate the process of reaching our heartfelt goals and dreams.

Being grateful for what you are and have right now doesn’t mean you don’t want to grow and create change in your life. If you’re like me, you love to create change, learn new things and make life more brilliant for yourself and your loved-ones.

Accomplishing your goals is even more possible when you start with a foundation of gratitude. Instead of feeling frustrated, you’ll feel happy about where you are … while eagerly anticipating your adventure ahead.

Being grateful for all you have now sets the stage for realizing your goals in the future.

When we feel and express gratitude for what we have in our life, we are automatically attracting more of what we love.

Goals give us purpose and keep us focused on what’s truly important to us. Goals bring us to greater clarity about what we want … and they keep us inspired to keep taking those baby steps toward our ‘prize’ every day.

Whether you have a goal for attaining something special with your dog … or for a non-dog something that you feel inspired to bring into your life … a gratitude journal will keep us moving in the right direction.

Goal Acceleration Tips:

When you are working toward a training or trialing/showing goal with your dog, (or any goal really),  you can use your gratitude journaling to speed up your results.

Here’s how:

  1. Include 1 or 2 Goal Gratefuls in your daily practice. When we are working toward a goal that challenges us (as good goals do), we often get caught up in a cycle of ‘it’s not happening yet’ or we question ‘when is it ever going to happen?’ or ‘will it ever happen?’ and we forget to celebrate the little wins.When we can include 1 or 2 of those little baby steps we take that keep moving us toward our goal … the more we focus on the things that went right … the more we are accelerated. This practice is so reinforcing to us, and it keeps us inspired and motivated to carry on through the struggles we will likely encounter along the way.
  2. Include 1 or 2 Future Gratefuls in your daily practice. When you can include feeling grateful for what is about to come … surrounding future events with an air of expectation, like it’s already done … you will be adding that positive energy to the mix, and that will accelerate your journey even more!What you’ll want to do is to use your imagination to pretend that your goal/dream has already happened … that you are living it right now. Paint a full and vibrant picture of living your dream. Allow yourself to experience the feeling you will have living your dream.Now, simply find one or two things that you are grateful for inside of your imagined life. There you have it – goals on steroids!!  🙂

Some Examples of Gratitude Journal Entries:

Goal Grateful:
“Wow! Max actually looked at me for ‘what’s next?’ today! First time in class he offered that! I am so grateful that our partnership is finally getting there!”

Future Gratefuls:
“I am so grateful knowing that next week’s trial will be fun and we get to practice and learn together in a new place.”

“I love that by this time next year, we are going to be an amazing team, really brilliant together! My heart swells with joy and gratitude for all we will experience together.”


Comment below and tell me:

What is the #1 Goal/Dream that you would love to accelerate?

Ever grateful,
Kathy xo



Join us for the 2019 Creative Alchemy Passion Plan program…you’ll be so happy you did!!

A Simple Formula to Create A Life You Really Love (without making any icky resolutions)

December 29, 2017


Ever heard that voice inside that tells you you’re not living the life you really want, or having the success you work so hard for?

Yes? We all do! It’s a natural part of being human … to want to be better … to want to have more.

Well: whatever you do, don’t get sucked into the media hyped, failure-ensuring, confidence-robbing bandwagon of making a New Year Resolution!

What to do instead? I have a Formula for you. It works, it’s simple, and it’s a great way to get in touch with what really matters to you:

It all starts when you Follow Your Heart…

Alchemy Formula graphic


My Creative Alchemy Formula

[Dream + Plan + Action + Belief + Connection]

= OMG!! I’m Happy!



The truth is that without taking ACTION, your dreams and goals are just wishes, hopes and ‘pies in the sky’ that never happen for you …Yet:

It is incredibly hard to stay motivated unless you follow this simple formula that puts your dreams on ‘autopilot’.

1The first part of the formula is a “must do” if you are to have any chance of reaching your dreams and goals… and without it you are destined to fail:

It’s all about Following Your Heart … and it starts with getting in touch authentic, heart-felt dreams to be who you are truly meant to be…

Your best year ever starts with DREAMING BIG … getting in touch with what is really important to you, not just what you think you should set as goals…

You need to know WHY you want this and how getting this will make you feel … it’s not really about the goal … it’s about how you want to feel when you get there…

Your true and deep emotions are the most meaningful roadmap to live from your heart … this authentic YOU, and your real feelings are the strongest, most inspiring motivators possible,

When you follow Your Heart’s True Desires … staying motivated is sooooo easy!

2The next Tip is to do just enough PLANNING so that you know what to do next!

When you are an intentional creator of your life, you’ll naturally want to ask yourself “how might I get from here to there?”
And then…


3You take a tiny, baby step today and every day that builds momentum and keeps you moving consistently toward your dreams … taking consistent ACTION is key to living the life you love.
My favorite mantra is:

“Dream Big. Start Small. Keep Going.”


4The next step is so vital … you must:


That means you need to retrain your brain and recondition your mind to join up with your heart, working in harmony to make your dreams come to life…

We are hard wired to follow patterns and habits…that’s our comfort zone, so unless you:

create NEW habits and patterns that are aligned with your new vision of your life, nothing will change…
It’s easy, once you know how! And that’s what the last tip is about:

5When you STAY CONNECTED to your DREAMS, and to the way you truly want to experience your life …
Magic begins to happen, and your dreams come to life!

A dream or a vision is a curious thing. It starts out so foggy, not real. Then day dreaming sets in…you know: imagining the “what if”. Imagination is a powerful tool for creation. Unbelievably powerful.

Our conscious mind is limited to what it already knows to be true.

Our imagination, on the other hand…wow! There is NO LIMIT. Anything is possible. And that’s where it all starts: playing in the canvas we call imagination. If we spend enough time in the vision phase, the fog begins to lift, and details become more and more clear. In the world of our imagination, we can conjure up so much detail that it feels real.

That’s the process successful athletes use before their competitions. The brain doesn’t recognize the difference between ‘real’ and ‘imagined’ experiences. That means that if we can visualize our ‘perfect run’ with so much detail and depth that we feel the success, we have rehearsed that winning run (or anything else) and our body/mind now has an experience it knows to be true and can effectively execute. Wow, right?

Don’t get me wrong…you still have to do the work. Plan, prepare, train, condition, rehearse. All of it. But…even the best prepared don’t often win. They say that 95% of the winning is achieved by 5% of those attempting. I believe that those top 5% are most likely to use elements that others do not: visioning, a positive attitude, commitment to their dream, and the belief that it’s possible! They can see, feel, smell and taste it. They Believe it.

My favorite Creative Alchemy story.

This story starts quite a ways back. 2007 to be precise.

My wonderful dog Russell had already transformed my life. And young Phoenix brought me challenges that made me a better person. I was dreaming about merging these two amazing dogs, drawn to create a new generation formed from their great genetics. It would be my first border collie breeding. Exciting and a little scary.

I was torn between now or later, thinking of traveling to the spring trials with a litter, and knowing the time was getting close to separate them if I chose not to go ahead with the breeding. I had included this litter in my dream plan for the year, but wasn’t certain of the timing. As it turned out, “now” was the perfect time and in April a beautiful litter was born. OMG!!!

Phoenix was a perfect mom in all ways. And I was in love with each of the 4 puppies that blessed our life.

Luc, at one day old, wormed his way over to my hand, and declared my heart his. I was in love. He was the chosen one.

As the time grew closer to sending the puppies to their new homes, I realized that I could not part with Sue, and she became a permanent part of our family too.

But today’s story is about Luc.

Kathy Kawalec's Luc at 5 weeks.The seed of a dream was planted on that first day Luc squirmed over to my hand. Could he be the one that would follow in his sire’s great footsteps? Would he be the one that I could create an amazing working partnership with? Is is possible that he would make it to the National Finals one day?

He did indeed make it to the National Finals, in 2009, Klamath Falls, Oregon. He and Sue ran in the Nursery Finals, as their dad, Russell, competed in his last Open Finals, at 12.5 years old. It was the most amazing experience. A dream come true. I could barely believe it, and I think I had to pinch myself several times! OMG!!

Then we got to work getting Luc the necessary experience and training to be competitive in the Open. He has matured more and more each year, we worked through a few struggles and communication gaps, and we have become beautiful partners.

In 2013, I had some big dreams and goals.

Luc shows great style and athleticismOne of my goals was to have a really good run with Luc at Meeker. And we did!!  He was awesome, and handler error kept us from advancing into the finals by 4 points. Even with that, Dream realized, goal achieved. Wow and OMG!!

Another goal, and it was a B-I-G goal, one that I knew would stretch us in many ways, was to make it into the final round at the USBCHA National Sheepdog Finals in Virginia.

The first part was to get there, and we need to earn enough qualifying points during the season. That is a dream and a goal all by itself, and quite challenging cause I don’t get to many trials. I am so happy to say that we had a good trial season, and qualified to compete alongside 150 amazing teams at the Finals. That was another dream come true! OMG!!

The next part of my dream was going to be the hardest thing ever. We had to lay down an amazing run in the preliminaries, and another even better run in the more difficult semi-final round. I think I can summarize our semi-final run by relaying this message that I heard at least a dozen times from established masters that day: “you and Luc had an amazing run, it was nearly perfect and so beautiful to watch. I can’t even imagine how the judges found any points to take off your run, it was that good.”

Kathy Kawalec and her dog Luc wait for their run at the finals.It FELT incredible. It was simply amazing to experience that with my good dog Luc. We made it into the Final round. OMG!!

We drew up first on Sunday. Wow. That was not what I was envisioning. I had hoped to watch a couple of runs. We stood near the gate to the field in the rain as the day dawned dark and dreary, waiting to be called in to the post.

Finally, the sheep were brought out to their spot by the setout crew: a man, his horse and his dog. They were barely visible in the dark and rain. I sent Luc to the right and he cast out perfectly, and disappeared behind the hill on his way to gather the first set of sheep.

After a few minutes, the sheep began to move, then lift down the field, and finally I could see Luc expertly guiding his 10 sheep down the fetch line. He was confident and willing to take my whistles as he brought them through the fetch gates.

Now for the hard part, he had to leave this first set of sheep and turn back for another set that he couldn’t see. Deep breath. I told him to “Loooook”, and he smartly turned back for the second set of sheep hiding in the dark and rain.

Then, just a quickly, he turned right back onto the first set that instantly began running toward the exhaust pen as soon as they felt released. Luc worked hard and persistently all week to ensure the determined sheep did not do such a thing. He was not about to let it happen now!

Another deep breath. And several more, as Luc and I communicated about what needed to happen next. I didn’t want my dream to end here.  Finally, finally, he committed to going out to look for another set of sheep. When he cast out, the crowd cheered and I did a happy dance. OMG!!

My awesome partner brought the second set down, regathered the first set and drove his 20 charges around the course like an expert. The sheep came into the shedding ring with Luc at the rear. I flanked him around to the pressure, and stopped him there. Our eyes met in that moment, as I told him silently how much I loved him and how proud of him I was. It was the most exhilarating experience. OMG!!

Kathy Kawalec and Luc shed at the Finals

I began my work of sorting off 15 uncollared ewes, calmly and quietly. Satisfied. We timed out working the shed, and we both left the field with our feet barely touching the ground. Cloud 9. That’s where we hung out for quite some time. As a matter of fact, just recounting this story puts me right back on that cloud. OMG!!

I could go on and on (believe me!) with all the amazing things that happened…but let me finish with just one more: there is a ‘dream’ card in my Alchemy Box for ‘better partnership’ with my dogs this year, every year.

I Dream of being the best possible partner, teacher, student with and for my dogs. And getting better and better every year.

My “New Year” dreams will include some pretty amazing goals for all of us, I have no doubt.

Would you love me to help you create YOUR best year ever?

For the last 16 years, I’ve been leading my Creative Alchemy “Create Your Best Year Ever” class…sharing the things I’ve learned over the years for creating the life I love. There is a simple formula, but it’s not always easy to execute. Life happens, if you know what I mean.

That’s where the class comes in…we form a great community of folks who love dogs, animals, nature. And who want to make a better life for themselves, and for their dogs and their families. They want to be happy, they have dreams ready to come alive…just like you and me. It’s an awesome group every year, and many have joined our group every year since the beginning!

The class happens online, so you can attend from anywhere…in your jammies!


I’ve put together a great program that will support you ALL YEAR, with a really, really special price as my ‘Thank You’ to our community. I want to make it easy for everyone to come. Click here to get the details.

So…here’s the thing. I believe in you. I believe that you CAN unleash your dreams … that you can have your best year ever…just like the hundreds of women who have joined us over the years.

Let’s do this, together!

Happy dreaming!

P.S. Play the Unleash Your Dreams Game: Comment below and share:

What is Your Top “Dream” for 2019?


How to Use Gratitude to Accelerate Your Goals and Have a Better Relationship with Your Dog

December 17, 2017



This time of year gets me reflecting on how grateful I am for the many blessings in my life, especially the amazing people in my life, including you.

I’ve been busy thinking up ideas for expressing my gratitude to you…and the first thing that comes to mind is to share with you the power of intentional gratitude.

It’s a practice that I’ve used for about 20 years, and it’s how I start every single day!

People who are grateful tend to be happier, healthier and more fulfilled.

Being grateful can help people cope with stress and can even have a beneficial effect on heart rate. 

From ancient scriptures to the latest science, gratitude is known to be good for us and those around us. Yet it isn’t always our automatic response and we often take the good things in our lives for granted. So we have to consciously learn to get into the habit of being grateful.

Science is showing that gratitude is important for how good we feel psychologically and socially.  And contrary to what we may think, it also appears that it could increase our ability to achieve our goals.

Why does it work? We have a natural focus on what goes wrong in our daily lives often going over and over these things in our head.

We are quick to notice even the smallest of problems, yet we rarely spend any time at all dwelling on the good things. Things that brought us a quick smile or felt good are all to often forgotten or perhaps not even noticed in the first place.

Arianna Huffington writes in her book Thrive, about how gratitude exercises can have tangible benefits. She writes, “According to a study by researchers from the University of Minnesota and the University of Florida, having participants write down a list of positive events at the close of a day — and why the events made them happy — lowered their self-reported stress levels and gave them a greater sense of calm at night.”

Arianna also writes, “Gratitude works its magic by serving as an antidote to negative emotions. It’s like white blood cells for the soul, protecting us from cynicism, entitlement, anger, and resignation.”

Taking the time to notice and record our gratitude is simple but incredibly powerful.

Of course, this will have a positive effect on our entire life, but when we add this to our life with dogs including our dog training, showing and trialing … amazing shifts will begin to happen, and our results are accelerated!

More Great things about Gratitude…

It feels amazing when we take the time to ‘count our blessings’ and get in touch with all we have to be grateful for in our lives. That feeling easily trumps all those others like worry, stress, anger and frustration…pushes them right out of the way!

When we feel and express gratitude for what we have in our life, we are automatically attracting more of what we love. We don’t have to ‘do’ anything. Just remember to get in touch with a genuine, heartfelt feeling of gratitude every day. Then be ready to receive!!

We are paying it forward. When we feel gratitude we are emitting the vibe of love and gratitude automatically. Everyone we connect with, in person or heart-to-heart at any distance, is getting the benefit of our feeling. I like to say that we are “infecting others with our love and gratitude”. And that includes our dogs!

Here’s how to get started with your Gratitude Practice:

  1. Choose a regular time.  It’s so helpful to create a habit … to make this a real and regular practice in your life. It starts with choosing a time that works for you.
    For example, you might like to reflect each day before you go to bed, or perhaps once per week, on Sunday evenings. The important thing is that you make it a ROUTINE.
    Personally, I do this every morning while I am walking my dogs.
  2. Find the Joy in your life. Think back over your day or your week and remember 3 to 5 good things in your life – things that went well, that you enjoyed or were grateful for. These can be small (like you smiling at your dog rolling in the grass) or of bigger importance for you (like you remembered to use ‘inviting’ body language and to smile when you called your dog to you). Dig for new things each time!!
  3. Write your gratitude  in your journal this is important. Taking the time to capture your gratitude can really move the needle for your mindset and positivity…which in turn will accelerate your progress toward living your dreams. You may want to get a small notebook or journal…or even an app if you prefer electronic journaling.
  4. Contemplate why. For each thing you’re grateful for, write down why you feel good about it. Take your time with this part, really feel the feeling of gratitude for these small pleasures in your life. Feeling the feeling … and allowing that feeling to flood your body creates sort of an imprint that will make it easier and easier to get back into this feeling so that you can truly enjoy every day life … even with it’s challenges.
  5. Look back and remember. After a week or a month … or whenever you need a ‘boost’ after a rough day or a tough time, have a look back on what you’ve written. Your gratitude has no expiration date! You can look back months or years later, and as you read, you heart will swell once again with positive feelings and appreciation.


Comment below and tell me one reason you are grateful for your life with dogs. 

Ever grateful,
Kathy xo


Join us for the 2018 Creative Alchemy Passion Plan program…you’ll be so happy you did!!


A Love Letter . . .

November 27, 2014

A Love Letter (1)To My Dear Dogs,

You may not know this, but without you, my life would be greatly diminished.

Would I have ever had the courage to push through my pain without you by my side? Would my smile be as bright, my optimism be as strong?

How could I learn to be more patient, if it wasn’t for your patience with me? If you had corrected me for every time I made a mistake, would I have eagerly and happily forgiven you, as you did me?

If you didn’t refuse to do what I unreasonably asked, how would I have learned a better way? If you had hidden your true feelings, how would I have known how wrong I was?

How would I have known?

When you grew old and slow to respond, you taught me how to be loving and patient.  To cherish every moment, knowing how few we had remaining. To be. With you.

I would have missed out on so many incredibly beautiful moments if you hadn’t allowed me to be part of your aging and your dying. How sad that would be. So much sadder than the pain of losing you.

I am in awe of how blessed my life is…this life with you, my dogs. All of you: past, present, yet to be.

It is magical.

My heart, no, my entire being, swells with gratitude and with love for the blessing of my life with dogs. And for the blessings that I know will go on, every day of my life.

Kathy Kawalec and her border collie Luc share a loving momentThank you.

I promise you this: with your blessings and most importantly, with your help,  I will keep on aspiring to be the kind of person you see in me. The kind of person I see in your honest, hopeful, beautiful eyes.

And, I will keep on guiding every lover of dogs who connects with me to be the kind of person their dogs see in them.

I promise.

All my love,



What would you write to your dogs? Share in the comments below! xo

Do You Say This to Your Dog?

January 8, 2014

Kathy Kawalec blogs about relationship with her dogs

I’m pretty sure that when I say that I can relate the child raising struggles my young niece has to the struggles I have with my dogs, that she politely waits until my back is turned and then rolls her eyes.

Dog rearing and child raising have similaritiesBut, it’s true. I can’t help but see the parallels between child raising and dog rearing, it happens a lot. I guess I’m obsessive about the relationships we have with our dogs and finding better ways to communicate, teach, and influence choices.

In case you’re wondering: yes, when I take those online quizzes, I always come out as a border collie. Obsessive and passionate about their work. That’s me…lol.

Back to my point. I recently read an article about what makes a great ‘sports parent’. Author Rachel Macy Stafford talked about one particular sentence that inspired her to change what she says to her kids as she drives them around to different activities, determined NOT to be one of those ‘nightmare sports parents’ mentioned in the article she read.

“I love to watch you play” are the 6 words that opened the door to a new relationship with her children.

So, as I do my usual ‘relationship relating’… I began to contemplate the words and the feeling behind the words that I say to my dogs. Do I use a similar phrase myself?

I’m not talking about words of encouragement, guidance or cheerleading. We all do that, right?

No, this is something different.

samface1I remember this morning, my dogs eager faces are looking expectantly up at me. My throat tightens and I catch my breath, my eyes tear just a little. I feel so awed by their rapt attention. Not because they are ‘trained’ to ‘watch’ me (they’re not) but because they freely offer their willingness to ‘be’ with me.

I think: “I am awed and I so love your beautiful eyes connecting deeply with mine”, allowing that feeling to expand out from my heart. And then I see their eyes soften just a bit, an appreciation of my appreciation.

I imagine they are thinking:

There’s no pressure here. She just loves to be here with us. That is all.

Luc shows great style and athleticism

My dog runs out on a beautiful cast to gather the sheep to me, sent by a ‘shhhhhh’ only my dog can hear. I am awed by the determined purpose and by the graceful athleticism of my dog as he runs.

I think: “I love to watch you run.”

The sheep quietly arrive at my feet as my dog pauses, waiting to hear what I need next. I softly move away from the sheep as I call my dog to my side. “That’ll do,” I quietly say as I unconsciously pat my leg.

Then, to this amazing partner of mine, I say from my heart: “That was so awesome, buddy.” My dog responds by gently leaning into my leg, and releasing a sigh.

That familiar feeling of throat catching, eyes welling, heart swelling comes over me.

I imagine he is thinking:

There’s no pressure here. She just loves to be here, doing this with me. That is all.

Sue and Kathy getting ready to run at SOTN trialI’m reminded of so many times like this with my dogs.

The times that I soften my body and open my hands into an invitation, and without a spoken word: my dog runs, full speed, eyes smiling and presses her head into my waiting hands.

I am awed to be the subject of this pure adoration, unrequested attentiveness, and eager responsiveness.

As my dog is pressing her head lovingly into my hands, I hope she is thinking:

There’s no pressure here. I love when she invites me into her hands. I love just being here with her. That is all.


Special Thanks to Ms Stafford for your inspiring article.

Here’s Your Challenge:

How can you be a better partner for your dog? How will you change the words and underlying feeling as you train, work and compete with your dog? Tell me about it in the comments below. Or, do you have any thoughts you’d like to share on this topic? I will be your eager supporter and I can hardly wait to read your thoughts!



My Birthday and other November happenings

November 8, 2013

Kathy KawalecDid you know that I’ve been thinking a lot about how grateful I am to have you in my life?

November is the month of gratitude…we have a special day dedicated to gratitude, (Thanksgiving in the U.S)…it’s my husband Joe’s birthday month, and it’s my birthday on November 16th.

All this gets me reflecting on all the wonderful, amazing people in my life, including you. And what I can do to express my gratitude.

I know, me telling you IS expressing. But I feel inspired to express more than that to my awesome subscribers, clients and students. Like have a party or something!! So, I’m thinking about how to do this. And, I will let you know as soon as I imagine something awesome!!

I DID just get inspired to do this:

I’m going to give away some cool stuff.

Let’s start with a $55 Gift Certificate.

And a giant bag one pound of my dog’s favorite treats: freeze dried lamb lung to 3 lucky dogs.

All you need to do is go to the comments section below and tell me one reason you are grateful. That’s it. I’ll pick the winners on my birthday.

This is just the start…stay tuned for more fun birthday celebration stuff!!

Ever grateful,


Dogs inspire us to make the world a better place

January 21, 2013

This day seems so perfect for reflecting on how we have been influenced and inspired. By people and by our dogs and other animal companions. And, it seems perfect to share my own dream with you too.

One of the people who most inspires me with his courage, and his peaceful yet persistent and passionate approach is Dr Martin Luther King Jr. I came across this page with some of Dr King’s philosophies, and loved this quote on his legacy.


MLK Legacy


The Most Important Question.

Does my life have meaning?  Am I contributing to making the world a better place somehow?

When we ask ourselves this question at the beginning of every year…and at the beginning of every day, we will be creating a better world, just in the asking.

When we ask ourselves this question, we bring a sort of mindful awareness to how we move throughout the day, without even thinking about it.

When we ask ourselves this question, we get in touch with our most intimate self. Our heart. It’s the part of our self that knows our calling. And that urges us to follow that call.

My Dogs led me to my answer:

The love people have for their dogs and other animal companions will lead them to living a happier, more peaceful, more compassionate life. Start there.

And, so I did. That’s why I’m here. That’s why you’re here. There’s more history on this page. More about my work here.

Following your heart isn’t always an easy road. Believe me. If you are brave enough and passionate enough you will sweat, toil, dig deep, and sometimes want to give up.

Stick with it my friend. It’s so worth it.


Speak! Your community wants to hear from you. I want to hear from you.

In the comments, tell me:

1. What do you want your legacy to be? What do you want people to say about you?

2. Do your dogs and other animals inspire your life? How?

Thanks so much for reading! It is a wonderful time to be alive.  🙂

Sending love and light,

5 Surefire Ways to Have a Happier Life with Your Dog

January 16, 2013

If you’re like most of us, you have a dog because you love the companionship, the opportunities for fun, and the challenges of mastering a dog-centric activity and of getting to be a better person.

Things don’t always go as planned. We can have challenges and struggles along the way that seem to drain our happiness rather than add to it.

The good news is that it is within our power to change that! When you think of having ‘partnership’ with your dogs, life changes in an amazing way. By eagerly collaborating with your dog to ‘solve the problem‘ of learning a new skill or a better way of being, life is happier and a lot more fun.

Adopt these 5 simple strategies for having that happier life that dogs love to help us create.

1. Pay attention to your intention.

In a nutshell, what you focus on (or give your attention to) is what you will create more of in your life.

So, if you want to have a happier life and a great partnership with your dog, then simply decide to pay attention to how you are thinking about, speaking about and acting in your life, your dog and your partnership.

Once you are aware of your thoughts, words and actions, you can then choose to have an intention of thinking, speaking and acting in a way that will bring more happiness into your every day life and better partnership for you and your dog.

Make a commitment to yourself and your dog to think, speak and act in a positively life affirming way every single day.

2. Learn from your dog.

One of our responsibilities is to teach our dogs how to live happily and comfortably in our human-centric world. We need to teach them to be our partners, to eagerly look to us for guidance.

In order to be an inspired teacher, one must first learn the art of being a good student. This applies to just about everything. Even if you are an “expert” at a particular thing, you must still learn how to best teach this dog this particular lesson. You learn this by…you guessed it: learning from your dog!

There is a continual feedback loop, a circuit of communication and information flowing between you and your dog. Pay attention to how your dog is responding: listen, watch, modify, adjust, watch and listen some more, then make more adjustments to the lesson. A good teacher understands that the “one-size-fits-all” approach to teaching is not effective, and may even dampen enthusiasm for learning.Kathy with 1 year old Luc, connecting during a work session

When you listen and learn from your dog how to best teach, a new and better partnership is born!

3. Keep a beginners mind.

There is soooooooooooo much to learn about life and about dogs: skills, tasks, caretaking, trialing, handling, training, sportsmanship, (you get the picture!), that it would take a full set of encyclopedias, or an entire world of experts building a wiki to cover this topic with any depth or clarity.

So, the best we can do is to be a devoted student, learning every chance we get, in all possible settings and from all available sources, in order to transform this gathering of information into personal wisdom. Then, over months, years, decades and even lifetimes, we actually accumulate enough wisdom to be able to effectively interact with our dogs with ever-deepening understanding and clarity.

At some time along the way, our dogs begin to actively look to us for advice…and a potentially great partnership begins to flourish!

4. Be a positive leader.

Have you ever noticed that the people we are most likely to consider great leaders are the ones who care deeply and compassionately about those they are leading?

Leaders who are calm, courageous, strong, unaffected by peer pressure; leaders who can see the big, long term picture while they focus on the details of what is needed right now in the present. Leaders who inspire us to grow and be the best we can be…and through compassion for our present difficulties, support and nurture our evolution.

By choosing to be this kind of leader, and staying your course in spite of failures and bumps in the road, the partnership you yearn for with your dog will bloom into it’s fullest potential. And it’s a beautiful thing!

5. Embrace gratitude.

Start by noticing all the times you and your dog experience happy partnership, no matter how small or brief.

Smile, and feel happy and grateful, and share your happiness with your dog, right then and there.

In that moment of feeling happy and grateful, you are giving birth to more of those moments. And because you are noticing those partnered times, and you feel good when you find them, you and your dog keep looking for and creating more. (that’s called positive reinforcement).

Every time you take your dog out to train or play, start with remembering your love and partnership. Feel heartfelt appreciation for your dog, and share a happy and grateful moment or two.

Then begin learning and teaching with your dog, always doing your best to be a good partner and a positive leader.

Yes, you will fail at that….Probably a lot.

When that happens: pause, take a deep breath and be grateful that your wonderful partner will happily give you yet another chance to get it right.

Your Turn to Take Action:

Take a look at your level of happiness and partnership as you and your dog discover life together.

Then, in the comments, tell me two things:

1. What are you willing to shift to bring more happiness and partnership into your life?
2. What new skill or more balanced behavior do you want to teach your dog, and how can we (me and our community) help?

Be brave and express yourself! I am so eager to hear from you and to support you.

Thank you for reading, and for sharing.

With inspiration for helping you have a fantastic year,


Competition Failures Transformed

May 24, 2012

Young Karma enjoys agility!When Good Karma Won’t Stay

(This is a guest blog by Julie Bacon)

There’s a popular quote: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.” That was us, me and my Bernese Mountain Dog, Karma, when it came to having a solid stay in obedience. We practiced, yet still couldn’t manage to successfully hold our stays in the ring. Clearly, something had to change.

A companion becomes a partner

Karma is my first “competition” dog, and when he came into my life as a puppy 5 years ago I couldn’t have foreseen that we would be trialing successfully in obedience, rally, drafting, agility and (a little) herding. Yet my “pet” evolved quickly into a “performance” dog and with that came expectations and goals.

Some of those goals included getting advanced obedience titles and we hit a wall when working towards our CDX title, specifically the portion having to do with out-of-sight stays. We practiced, we tried different methods and took in all the advice but Karma would not just move out of position, he would leave the ring to find me. Once he jumped out of the ring to meet me at the door. Once he nearly ran down a steward who later told me she thought better of blocking his path. Usually he just met me at the gate.

To say I was frustrated is an understatement.

At the time, just before Kathy and I began working on this issue, I would have said I could define those 5 “C” words and that Karma and I were connected. Looking back, I was wrong, of course.

Yes, Karma and I had a fabulous connection in terms of unconditional love and a desire to work with one another. But to put the 5 Cs to work meant looking hard into the mirror and asking myself: Did I really have clarity, communication, competence, commitment and coaching? Actually, I had pieces – so that was a start. But each competency had to be developed and practiced. And here’s where I would add a sixth C: Consistency! Being committed to creating a connected relationship is one thing, being consistent about it takes real self-awareness of each moment.

Yup, it’s work. I mean, the most rewarding kind, but work nonetheless.

Karma and Julie working at the draft test.

Training is NOT compartmentalized

While I applied this methodology to all of my training situations, the way it manifested in working on our stays was a long process. One of the best things someone told me was, “Whatever problem you’re having in the ring, is happening somewhere else, you’re just not seeing it.”

That was a big ah-ha moment for me as I had always compartmentalized the different aspects of our life together: daily walks were separate from working a front cross in agility; hikes in the woods were not the same as pulling a cart; swimming in the lake couldn’t have anything to do with getting a reliable stay.

I feel like we are truly partners and I now know that if he’s not “getting it” then I need to go check my C’s.

Karma and Julie share a hugSure, you can “sneak in” training moments when having fun, but that’s not what I mean. I’m talking about building that connection. We worked – and still work – the 5 Cs to develop a partnership, and for us, this huge aspect of mutual respect that now is a cornerstone of our relationship be it in the ring or in the woods. As a result, I feel like we are truly partners and I know if he’s not “getting it” then I need to go check my Cs – including my sixth one, consistency.

Julie Bacon lives in northern Virginia with her two Bernese Mountain Dogs, Karma and Indie, who compete in obedience, rally, agility, draft and herding.


Here’s what I would LOVE for YOU to do for each Personal Story of Transformation published here:

Show your appreciation. Send supportive comments. Share your similar experiences. These brave and wonderful women love their dogs with all of their heart, and would love to feel your gratitude for their willingness to share.

Want to learn about the 5 C’s that Julie uses? Get Your Free Copy of the “5 Step Formula for Dog Training Success!”