My name is Dr Diana Rayment, but I prefer just Di. I’m a companion animal welfare scientist (a.k.a. animal sheltering and management nerd) from Victoria, Australia. My career to date has been a pretty crazy mix of academic and practical learning and application, right across the field of Animal Science, starting with and circling back to my heartland – companion animals and how we live together.

Throughout the last 19 or so years, I’ve lived and learned as a dog trainer, an animal shelter nurse, an applied animal scientist, a university academic and TAFE teacher, leading a behaviour team working with retired racing greyhounds, and now working a day job as a shelter manager and ‘moonlighting’ in my own private business as a trainer and consultant for animal sheltering and management professionals.

Now that I’ve left academia properly and headed back into the sector, I decided to start writing and see what happens. This blog is an opportunity for me to reach out and share some of what I’ve learned along the way, as a ‘thank you’ to all of my teachers and mentors who have pushed me to learn more, do better, and be better.

While I’ve been lucky to have had some of the best human mentors I could have wished for (and I plan to expand that impressive list!), it was my kelpie X companion of almost 14 years, Sisco, who started me on this journey and taught me how incredibly meaningful and important our relationships with companion animals are.

So, this blog is named for him because everything I’ve learned since he came into my life is built on the foundations he created. Sisco was a wise, quirky, and slightly neurotic Kelpie X that continued teaching me (and humbling me) from puppy hood until we said ‘Until we meet again, remember I love you’ in 2018. As all humans who have loved and been loved by a great dog know, there is no better teacher about all things canine than a wise dog with a good heart.

Sisco was my Mr Miyagi – just when I thought I had mastered a new skill, or finally understood what was going on in our world, he would look me square in the eye and toss me a reminder that life is about listening and learning, not lecturing and mastery. Then, as I sat dusting myself off from yet another life lesson ‘Sisco Miyagi’ style, he would drop his tennis ball in my lap and demand that I just get on with the damn game already.

Sisco’s life lesson Number 1: Resilience is a necessary foundation for efficient learning!