I owe my career to my Grandmother and my Akita, Samson. My Grandmother has always had a variety of pets. She taught me to value animals as close friends and not just possessions. I remember her Irish Setter very well. Her name was Shane and she had only three legs. She lost one to cancer before I knew her. Shane was a great inspiration because she never complained and was always happy to see me. She taught me that you did not have to be perfect to be happy. I grew and met many other dogs and learned something from each one. The German Shepherd, Margo taught me about courage. The Airedale, Casper taught me never to give up. The Bouvier, Clancy taught me to make friends carefully. The thing each had in common was unconditional love. I graduated high school and began working at various jobs. My Akita, Samson was getting big. At six months he weighed 85 pounds and became destructive. He chewed everything he could reach and was becoming aggressive. It got to the point where he began gaurding the hallway and I couldn't get through it without asking permission. Usually, it meant some kind of treat and much begging....on my part! It always ended with me wondering what to do about this behavior. It finally got to the place where it became clear that either he or I would have to go, or I was going to get professional help. I loved Samson enough to pay a full time dog trainer to evaluate my situation. The first in home session revealed that I had not been a effective leader for Samson. He had no clear structure in terms of rules. He had run of the house and was chewing up everything in sight. He didn't come when called and listened only when he wanted to. The session helped me understand how important it was for me to be a good leader in my relationship with Samson. I learned that I was a better friend as his leader, than by being a constantly dissapointed underling. Dog's are not designed to be human leaders. Even our wonderful Blind Leader Dogs were trained by sighted humans who lead them; to lead humans. Well, I caught the bug and here I am 20 years later still learning from every new dog I meet!