Before the opening session.
You guys, it was awesome. I'm no stranger to dog seminars, but Clicker Expo was beyond my wildest imagination. I was excited to learn a lot, and I totally did (you guys will be sick of Clicker Expo posts by the time I'm done), but it was so much more than that.
That sense of community was just as awesome as the lectures I attended. There were 425 people in attendance from all over the country, even all over the world. More than that, though, these were my people- clicker trainers. There were dogs everywhere (I believe the official number was somewhere around 125), and I did not see a single collar correction. I didn't hear anyone yelling at their dog. There weren't even disappointed sighs or expressions of frustration.
A very typical sight- dogs everywhere!
I did see a ton of cookies handed out. I heard a lot of clicks and yes-es and praise. And there were tons of adoring looks, on the parts of both the dogs and the handlers. It was clear that these were strong relationships, canine-human teams that truly cared about one another.
The infamous Layla herself.
Looking down the main hallway.
This atmosphere was undoubtedly aided by the tag tickets that were handed out like candy. In everyone's registration packet, there was a bunch of raffle tickets. You wrote your name and phone number on them, and then handed them out to people when they did something you liked. That person also wrote their name and number on them, and then put them in a drawing for door prizes. Both tagger and taggee would get a prize. I didn't win anything, but I didn't care. I had so much fun giving and receiving the tags that it didn't matter. I tagged people who asked good questions, who talked to me, who wore cool boots. I got tagged over and over again for my enthusiasm. And was I ever enthusiastic (perhaps even bordering on obnoxious)! I talked to people, I handed out my blog cards (a business card with a picture of Maisy and I, and our blog address), and I squealed. A lot.
Kathy Sdao TAGGED me!!
And of course, there were the presenters- Big Name Trainers whose books I've read, whose work I've admired. I shared an elevator with Karen Pryor! I ran into Emma Parsons in the hallway. I scared Ken Ramirez with my enthusiasm. I met (and subsequently stalked) Kathy Sdao. I felt a bit self-conscious, but I got my picture taken with a lot of them. They were all so nice and friendly. Lovely, lovely people.
The only part of Clicker Expo that I didn't like was having to choose between sessions. I mean, how do you choose between Ken Ramirez, Kay Laurence and Kathy Sdao? Seriously, how? The good thing is that there were no wrong choices. Although I was very sad to miss out on certain sessions, I didn't regret anything I attended. Every single session had at least one nugget of brilliance that made it worth attending.
Outside the Clicker Expo store- my kind of shopping!
I went for the sessions, but I'll return for the community. My husband and I have agreed that we both want to go next year. January's expo is supposed to be in Portland, and March's location hasn't been decided yet. I'm not sure it matters- we've already kicked around the idea of saving up and flying, no matter where it is.
That was the surprising part- how much Brian enjoyed it. He's working on a guest post on his perspective of Clicker Expo, which I'm excited to read. I am also working on posts for all the sessions I attended, including:
Karen Pryor: Punishment and the Public
Ken Ramirez: Aggression Treatment and Context- Part 1, Part 2
Kathy Sdao: You're in Great Shape!
Cecilie Koste: Top OTCh
Kathy Sdao: What a Cue Can Do (lecture and lab)- Part 1, Part 2
Cecilie Koste: Efficient Training
Helix Fairweather: Accelerating Success with Data Driven Training
Kay Laurence: Raising Criteria
Eva Bertilsson and Emelie Johnson Vegh: Let's Make Some Noise! (Building Confidence)
Kathy Sdao: The All-Seeing I
Patricia McConnell: Emotions and Our Dogs
Finally, just let me say that it was an amazing experience, and if you ever get the chance, you should go. It was absolutely worth the time and the money, and I can't wait for next year!