When I start class, I have more energy than I have at any other time. It's like I store it all up because I know I'm going to need it. Class, if done right, takes a TON of energy. I know there are some instructors who manage to maintain their personal lives in an almost normal fashion during class, but I don't understand how that's even possible. To me, doing class right means lots of late nights and early mornings and hardly any time off and total immersion in the needs of my clients, dogs, and the class in general.
Every day in class gets a little easier. Sure, there are the usual Week Two and Week Three issues that reliably appear in every class, but overall, client skills improve every day, and they need less and less help from me as they and their dogs transform into teams. By the time they are ready to leave, if things have gone well, they are pretty much on their own and I am pretty much just following them along on routes and not feeling like I need to say much of anything.
That's the feeling I should have when I say goodbye as they climb into the airport shuttle, and that IS the feeling I had this time. Two hours after my last client left for the airport, I was driving down to my new client's house with the dog in a crate in the back, ready to start the match and the bonding process all over again.
Of course, once I was actually doing it, I was completely present like I needed to be. Deliveries always come with their own challenges because they are completely outside of the class bubble. Everything in the class bubble is super structured to make transition as easy as possible for dog and person, but since deliveries take place in the real world, they always call for some modifications of normal protocols. Of course, that is what makes them interesting, so it's not like I mind doing them. In fact, I wish we did them more often. I am pretty sure that the 5% or so of my total time as an instructor that I have spent on field work has contributed at least 25-30% of my professional knowledge base, and possibly more. Anyway, this one went smoothly -- it's amazing how much faster the whole process goes when the client is being trained in a familiar area and when the instructor has unlimited time each day to spend with that one client -- and suddenly I was done.
I don't think anyone questions how much I love my job, but, I'm not going to lie, I love my vacation too. I need it. Especially after class. Class is so intense that it always takes me a day or so afterwards to adjust to the fact that NOBODY NEEDS ANYTHING FROM ME. I can sleep all day if I want, say "No thanks" to taking a shower and brushing my teeth, get reacquainted with Netflix, spend entire days browsing crap online, and no one will know or care. Post-class is really the only time in my life that I'm truly lazy. This time I went up to the U.P. for the first time, and, of course, was hooked, instantly. I took the dogs and got a cabin down in the far southeastern corner of the U.P. I was there for five days, looking at Lake Huron and walking the dogs through showers of falling leaves and sleeping in and reading till my eyes hurt and looking for moose and bears and beavers (and not finding any of them). It was relaxing in the most profound sense of the word.
But by Day Five I was ready to leave. Energy is renewed and I'm ready to go back and start training my new dogs. I have some things I want to do differently this cycle, and I can't wait to meet the new recruits and see what I've got to work with. Three more days and I'll find out!