2017 August Volunteer of the Month: Pat Wynn
Meet Pat! RASKC pays tribute to superlative volunteer Pat Wynn, who recently completed her time with RASKC. She is a professional dog trainer with Blue Sky Canine Coaching, LLC, credentialed by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Pat is also a longtime volunteer at the Seattle Humane Society (SHS). Her work there is increasing in light of a facility remodel with expanded space and reorganizing the SHS volunteers to work with pre-adoption dogs. Pat created a curriculum specifically for RASKC volunteers in 2013. Since that time she contributed over 220 hours during 55 classroom and coaching sessions. Pat has been extraordinarily generous in sharing her expertise and wonderfully effective pedagogy. Pat’s trainee evaluations always came back with the highest rankings and effusive comments. We deeply appreciate all of Pat’s work.
Q: How did you hear about RASKC?
A: I have known about RASKC since I moved to King County in 1991. We moved to the area with two dogs. So I got them licensed. But I was introduced to the staff while working with a group called Pawsitive Works in 2012. We paired shelter dogs at RASKC with at-risk youths. The teens trained the dogs to help them become more adoptable and, in turn, the youths learned empathy, responsibility, patience and critical thinking skills.
Q: What made you want to volunteer, especially to work with animals?
A: I was impressed with the changes in animal care at RASKC and administration’s constant striving to do better. I wanted to support RASKC by teaching volunteers to train and provide enrichment to the shelter dogs.
Q: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering at RASKC?
A: I provide in-home behavior consultation and training through my dog training business, Blue Sky Canine Coaching, LLC. I am also a long time volunteer at the Seattle Humane Society in Bellevue, where I train volunteers to train and provide enrichment to the dogs on the adoption floor. I also head a team of volunteers who work with dogs with extreme behavioral issues – the kind of problems that prevent them from being adopted. Learning about animal behavior is a passion of mine, so I spend much of my free time reading, attending seminars or otherwise exploring all aspects of dog behavior. When I am not doing that, I love gardening, paddling, travel and spending time with family and friends.
Q: What have you gained from your experience as a volunteer with RASKC?
A: I aspire to being as good a teacher as I can possibly be. The staff and volunteers at RASKC have supported me in this endeavor, and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to work with all of you!
Q: What is your life motto?
A: Don’t sweat the small stuff. And it’s almost all small stuff.
Q: What is your favorite park to take your dog for a walk? What are other favorite activities you like to do with your dog?
A:I love to walk my dog Ruby at Alki Beach! The views of Seattle and the Sound are amazing. I love the smell of the salt water and the opportunities to watch sea birds and marine mammals. Ruby’s excitement and enjoyment on walks are infectious. Everyone should walk with a dog! I also love to train her to do new things—and she loves to train. Right now, I am breaking down her movements to get her to circle around me backwards.
Q: What is the best advice you would give people who want pets?
A:Have patience. Instead of telling a dog “No!” or “Off!” for jumping up, teach him to “Sit” and reward that behavior with a treat or with petting. Being told “No” doesn’t give them enough information about what you want them to do. Remember that our pets are really beings from another culture: they need to be taught our ways, and our language, with respect, patience and compassion.
Q: Describe a memorable moment you’ve had with an animal.
A:I raised a raccoon when I was in high school. This was an amazing experience. I quickly learned that you couldn’t just punish a raccoon to get her to do what you want. She taught me how to interact with her without punishment. This became the foundation of my animal training philosophy.
Q: Many people might be unaware that earlier in your life you worked as an attorney. Would you describe your journey in changing your professional focus from practicing law to helping dogs and their people?
A:When I was a kid, I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian. I didn’t know there were other routes to working with animals. But I found I didn’t want to have a medical relationship with animals, so I let that dream go. Instead, I turned to the law, helping people as a health-care attorney, working in offices large and small. Eventually I married and took time off to raise a family (and many pets), but as my children grew up I found it was time for me to return to outside work. At that point I decided to explore dog training, deepening my understanding of animal behavior, strengthening relationships by helping people communicate more effectively with their dogs.
Q: Any final thoughts, comments you’d like to share?
A: I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with an amazing group of volunteers. I am constantly inspired by the dedication of the RASKC volunteers who devote their time and energy in helping shelter dogs navigate our world and find their forever homes.