Learning on the fly, work-life boundaries, podcasts, and my daily commute

Inspired by the high quality of listening material during my recent commutes to work and some advice from a friend to try writing about something a little lighter, I thought this week it might be fun to share some great and easy to access resources for animal welfare and management people. I’ve popped some in that are great for people who just like to learn about dogs simply because dogs are excellent too. I also say ‘fun’ deliberately because I’m restricting myself to podcasts and other resources that you can listen to while driving (or gardening, or scrubbing kennels!). I should warn you that my idea of fun is probably a little like my sense of humour… random and sometimes a little inappropriate!

I’ve struggled a bit (perhaps a lot) with work-life boundaries throughout my career. As I’ve become better at managing myself and creating healthier boundaries, I’ve realised how important my daily drive is for my ability to mentally shift from work to home mode. My current commute of about 45 minutes each way in COVID traffic is the shortest I have enjoyed for well over a decade. Turns out, that’s about as short as I can handle and as my partner will attest, I sometimes need to sit in the car and finish my mental reboot (or morning geek out session) for a good 10 minutes once I arrive at my destination. When the drive is well under an hour, I feel a bit ripped off when I arrive so quickly!

Now that I’m not dodging as much wildlife on my drive, I also am enjoying my twice daily opportunity to thoroughly indulge my inner learner. Say what you like about COVID and 2020, but this year has provided a huge wealth of opportunities to engage with Continuing Ed from the comfort of our own homes and cars. For those of us who live in Australia and don’t often get the chance to attend conferences in other countries, the shift from in-person conferences and animal expos to online events has created a virtual buffet of learning opportunities. I hope this shift stays with us because I’m not going to lie – I’m loving it!

My first online dive into CE this year was the IAABC and Fenzi Dog Sports Academy’s Lemonade Conference – hot tip, it was excellent and they’ve already scheduled next year’s event and it’s online too (whoop!). This was followed closely by the HSUS’s Animal Care Expo Online – if you have 48 hours to geek out, you can still register and get access to these sessions until November 1 (well worth it if you are in an animal management role as there’s loads of fantastic information in there for you too!). My latest ‘biggy’ was the Aggression In Dogs Conference –  I wish that was several days longer!

I briefly thought about registering for some animal behaviour science conferences this year too, then opted against it for a few reasons. However, for any non-scientists reading who are interested in canine behaviour science and would like to listen to some good material for free, The SPARCS Initiative have an online archive of past events. Back in the day, we had to pay membership to access this library (and it was worth it!) so the fact that it’s now freely available is kind of awesome.

So, on to podcasts – I will fess up here that I have tried listening to a few podcasts hosted on individual websites while I am driving and hated it – I’m a Spotify girl. I will freely admit that this is probably because I drive in areas with patchy reception and my tech skills can be sketchy. Knowing Animals is one such podcast with interesting content I enjoy, that I’ve relegated to ‘only to be visited when I am in front of a computer doing something boring’ (which doesn’t happen as often as I would like).

In the realm of sheltering-specific podcasts, my main go-to options are The Intake, The Community Cats Podcast and The Individual Animal. All three are great in their respective niches, although I’m partial to longer episodes so I find I need to be concentrating when listening to The Intake as it’s quite a short format show. I’m also beginning to dive a little into From Tip to Tail and Shelter Success Simplified – different niches and I haven’t listened enough to determine whether I’ll work through the whole series of these yet.

For a more general dog behaviour and training stuff, both Fenzi Dog Sports Academy and Drinking From the Toilet are a fun but interesting listen. They are in very different styles and I need to be in the right mood to enjoy them (and I’ve got no plans to listen to all episodes of either as I pick and choose training topics) but I think they are a great way to learn more about training in particular.  The Animal Behaviour Doctors is another podcast that falls into this category but definitely straddles the world of science a lot more than the first two – and it’s Australian so win-win!

For a more science-based take on all things dog, you can’t go past Dog Lab and The Functional Dog Breeding Collaborative. Both are excellent and both deserve kudos for being entertaining, easy to listen to and informative – for any passionate dog owners who just want to know more about dogs, start here!

Lastly on my recommended list, at least for now, I’m giving special mention to two recent high performers. These are podcasts that I’ve listened to all episodes back-to-back until I ran out, and always listen to new releases as soon as they come out. First is The Bitey End of the Dog – all of the episodes are fantastic, with a couple of my favourite people to listen to making notable appearances (Trish McMillan and Jim Crosby – if you don’t know who they are, have a listen!). I’d be lying if I didn’t gush over the episode with Dr Simon Gadbois though – this episode was my perfect mix of applied science and practical application and reminded me of how much I miss chatting to other scientists about dogs!

The other honourable mention is a new podcast by Prof Daniel Mills called What Makes You Click. I’ve listened to all episodes to date, back to back, across multiple trips because they are quite long  – usually around 1.5 hours each. My perception of Daniel Mills has changed dramatically (and for the better) as I have listened and I have loved just about every minute of this podcast. Again, it’s a great mix of science and practical application, and again Jim Crosby makes a notable appearance, along with some serious gurus in the world of animal behaviour. I hope this keeps going for a long time yet. If anyone wants to hear Ian Dunbar chatting with a long-time friend after a couple of wines, you will get that here!

On my ‘to listen to next’ list are iBuzz by AnimalConcepts, The Alliance Podcast and The Best Friends Podcast – and an episode of a podcast called Barks From The Bookshelf in which Clive Wynne makes a guest appearance. Not sure how these will measure up but they sound interesting and I’ll be finished all of my 2020 online event content very soon, so I’ll let you know! In the meantime, if anyone has any favourite podcasts or similar resources that you recommend – please mention them in the comments 😀

This week’s photo is from back in the day when Sisco and Pancho were just teenagers and I spent Wednesday evenings in a large horse arena in Werribee teaching dog agility and allsports classes. This is one of few photos in which Sisco is looking at the camera without the expression of someone being held at gunpoint. Pancho was far too interested in random tennis ball being tossed around by someone off in the distance to care about a group photo shoot – he was a ‘live in the moment’ kind of dog and it shows. It doesn’t look like it here but the boys were thick as thieves, with Pancho’s carefree attitude offsetting Sisco’s overthinking tendencies perfectly. This was a happy time!

This article has 2 comments

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