Recently, I was being interviewed for a podcast and the question came: “What allows you to speak as an expert in the realm of Canine Enrichment? What gives you the authority to do so?

It may sound like a bold question, but it’s a really important one.

So, today, I thought I would address it, in three parts.

I could begin by listing my degrees, all my certificates and professional training in the field of behavior change and learning, which is relevant, and what many people find comfort in knowing.

Instead, allow me to begin from the very beginning. I promise to keep it short and relevant.

The journey that led me towards discovering the need for “something different” started soon after moving to the United States, from my country of birth and early childhood, Kenya, East Africa.

Little did I know then, what I have grown in awareness of now, is how deeply connected all our life experiences are to the experiences we create for the future.

Experiences are like a plow… a large farming implement with one or more blades fixed in a frame, drawn by a tractor or by animals, and used for cutting furrows in the soil and turning it over… in preparation for planting of seeds.

Seeds are like memories, they function in much the same way. They are the unit of reproduction, capable of developing into another. Much like seeds, I believe some memories are dormant and others manifest into new growth, generating new ideas, inspiration, interests, and pursuits (especially when properly nurtured).

Part 1:

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have grown up and spent my childhood in a place where (and when) nature existed and its inhabitants were considered by many to be “living in the wilderness”. Myself included. 

There was a time during my late teens and early 20’s that I found myself experiencing some of life’s biggest, most painful challenges. In hindsight, I cant attest to every patch of darkness having some degree of light. But during those years of sitting in darkness it sure felt like I was stuck in a space that was dense and motionless. It was heavy.

I’ve always been courageous. I did things others wouldn’t consider, and my own family addressed me as, “Why can’t you just be like everyone else?”

I later learned there was a name for us… I was the black sheep in the family (whatever that means).

This process… the process of circling in darkness, was a crucial moment in time for me. It allowed me to tap into a state of turmoil which then allowed me to unveil my feelings about the things that held me hostage.

It became apparent that there were dots to connect, so I started connecting them. And the light appeared.

I was able to articulate the differences between living in captivity and true wilderness, first for myself, and then looking at the lives of other living beings around me. 

Part 2: 

First led by intuition, and second making decisions that strongly connected with my heart, soul and head, I realized I had something massive to offer dogs and dog-loving people, and first I needed to devote a considerable amount of time to deepen my understanding of two key things:

  1. how do dogs behave in the wild?
  2. what does the human-dog relationship look like in it’s most naturalistic state?

There was really only one way of learning. And now 20 years into it, I have been able to develop belief systems that give me a different kind of access to teaching, providing for, and caring for dogs, that we call Canine Enrichment.

 Understanding the whole dog, as a function of its environment, its ability to exercise choice, and access to having the freedom to move (space), has allowed me to create an entirely different discipline, without adopting the commonly-held beliefs of control, intimidation, manipulation, and bribery. 

Part 3: 

I didn’t open my doors to do business. I opened Universitiy of Doglando with the sole intention of discovering how to give domesticated restricted dogs (companion dogs) access to the freedoms of a free-roaming dog, without any of the repercussions, of course. 

In other words, as a working laboratory, we committed to giving companion dogs the best life they could possibly have in captivity, and especially when their wellbeing was handed over to care providers (specifically dog daycare and boarding). When this happens, what should it look like?

 

So back to the original question:

What gives me authority to speak as an expert in Canine Enrichment?

  • We discovered this model of care, and gave it the name “Canine Enrichment” to differentiate it from daycare, because unlike doggie daycare, Canine Enrichment has a clearly spelled out step-by-step, methodical, logical, and systematic approach which is observable, measurable, and unambiguous.
  • I have been in the practice of Canine Enrichment since 2003, and still today, I live, breathe, work, and learn by doing it myself.
  • We have time-tested and proven the framework of enrichment and its implementation with huge success.
  • Our practices are unmatched, and as a result we are at the forefront of innovative practices in our industry.

You don’t need to take my word for it! I invite you to come see it for yourself.

With much love,

– Teena
Mom, Wife, Pioneer, Certified Dog Trainer, Certified Behavior Consultant, Successful Entrepreneur, and an Advocate for Everything More Natural