The Family Paws Parent Education Conference took place in Raleigh, North Carolina from July 30-August 1st. The conference brought together dog trainers and parent educators from across North America that specialize in working with expectant parents, and parents with young children and dogs. Family Paws Parent Education was founded by Jennifer Shryock, B.A. CDBC. The goal of Family Paws Parent Education is to create “dog aware” generations by providing support and education to increase safety and reduce stress in homes with dogs and children.
Day 1 of the Family Paws Parent Education Conference came to an end with an emotional and empowering talk by Colleen Pelar, CPDT-KA, CDBC, well known speaker and author of “Living with Kids and Dogs…Without Losing Your Mind,” “Kids and Dogs: A Professional’s Guide to Helping Families“ and “Puppy Training for Kids.” Colleen is also the training manager of the largest dog training company in Northern Virginia, All About Dogs. She recounted a “light bulb” moment in own her life, where someone she trusted helped her realize a family revelation.
Colleen perhaps always knew her son was a little bit different, much like her husband. Throughout her son’s education, she was often distraught by the lack of engagement teachers had towards her son and her. A marked difference than how other children and parents were treated. It was one very caring teacher, who took the time to see and understand how Colleen’s son was different. This teacher recommended a therapist, whose trust and empathy led to a “light bulb” moment. Colleen’s son had hallmarks of Asperger’s Syndrome, and later, so was her husband.
Colleen’s heartfelt discussion of these events echoed earlier sessions from Day 1 by Family Paws founder Jennifer Shryock, BA, CDBC and Dr. Risë VanFleet, PhD, RPT-S, CDBC on building trust through empathetic listening. Empathetic listening includes putting your own feelings aside, listening carefully without judgement, and gathering information so that you will be able to guide families to potential answers/solutions. Developing and gaining trust is essential for helping families move forward with knowledge and understanding. Colleen’s experience highlighted just how important listening and gaining trust can be with families and children.