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An alternative education

Franny attends class with me at the Marin Humane Society!

In June I decided to take the plunge. Those of you who know me (or who have read posts from the beginning of this blog) know that I have been considering a career change for a while now, but it took a trip to Turkey with my girlfriends to change my life. At some point – maybe while drinking Turkish tea in Istanbul or relaxing on a boat in the middle of the Mediterranean – I realized that life should be enjoyable; that I should really love what I do. When we returned to San Francisco, my decision was made: goodbye anthropology, hello dogs!

What does it take to make such a drastic change? Well, first I had to figure out exactly what to do. In a perfect world I would study animal ethology and behavior. But…because I have no background in biology, I would have to start from the bottom, working my way through another 5-10 years of school for a Master’s Degree or Doctorate. To complete the degree, I would have to move north to attend UC Davis (not exactly my idea of an enjoyable place to live) and sell my soul to student loan officers. Not to mention the fact I already HAVE a Ph.D.! Clearly, this was not the best option.

I considered being trained as a Veterinary Technician. I worked as a vet tech in college and found it to be satisfying and interesting work. I could complete that certificate far more quickly and wouldn’t have to move out of San Francisco to do it (it is offered at Foothill College in the Bay Area). But, the state of our economy being as it is, the program has had so many applicants that it is only accepting those without a prior degree…that kind of puts me at the bottom of the acceptance list.

But I was in luck. Even though the highly reputable Dog Training Academy at the San Francisco SPCA is no longer in session, I discovered a wonderful alternative just across the Golden Gate Bridge: the Canine Behavior and Training course at the Marin Humane Society. Taught by renowned behavioral specialist, Trish King, the program had all the elements I was looking for – Saturday classes, a relatively low-cost, and a universal acceptance policy. Plus, it would give me a great education in dog ethology, dog training, and all other things canine.

With the help of Marin Humane, I will have the training and skills that will keep me from wondering if I made the wrong choice by leaving my old life to start anew.

For the juiciest tidbits I learn in class, check out my tips and facts on Modern Hound’s Facebook page. “Like” Modern Hound at

And for more on how I hope to put my alternative education to use, visit me and Franny at

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