Movers and shakers

Profile: Jane Gerard

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Job title(s) and responsibilities: "I am a certified professional dog trainer with over 35 years experience in training and animal management. I came to Taos in 1999 looking for my dream. I was born in London in 1960. I lived in the Bahamas from 1963 to 1973. I moved back to the UK to study equine management and training with The British Horse Society. I landed an unexpected summer job at age 20 with training dolphins and sea lions — this went on to become a 17-year career throughout Europe, Bahamas, Mexico and New York. I immigrated here in 1999 to start my own animal business, now called Jane Trains, a dog training and boarding company, (janetrains.com).

I built up my dog training and boarding business and sold my dog boarding facility in 2011. I built up another business in Alabama, which I sold before I moved back to Taos in 2016 to work with Stray Hearts Animal Shelter. I am currently building up my third business, Jane Trains.

Training an animal is not about obedience, that can happen very naturally when the bond of trust has been established. It is about communicating. This is what I teach my clients. I use a method anyone can learn, so it is positive and reinforcing for both the pet owner and the animal. In 2015, I won an award for my Circle Training©, an environmentally influenced training system. I redesigned fencing so it is not a square, but a circle within a circle. This enables several dogs to be trained at once, especially dogs that are aggressive with each other. With this method and enclosure, it is possible to reduce labor and time for anyone who has dogs and not enough time to train or exercise them. My goal is to be able to have this design available to help animal shelters, rescues or large kennel facilities, so they can train the dogs which will reduce boredom and frustration and make them better candidates for adoptable pets."

How many years in present occupation/business endeavor?

This will be my 18th year working full time with dogs.

What lessons have you learned in your career that have influenced the advice you lend to girls/women who want a career in your industry?

"Get educated by the best scientific experts in the field, get a degree in animal behavior or psychology, then get certified through one of the national centers such as the Karen Pryor Academy. As you meet the obstacles, especially from competitors, don’t take it personally. Stay on track, every day. Develop your own philosophy based on what feels true to you and ask your heart, 'Does this feel right?' As you gain professional momentum, others may discredit you or attempt to undermine your work, but don’t let it get to you. Keep on track and don’t sweat the small stuff. If you love what you do and know why you are doing it, then that is your raison d’être."

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace/women who want to start their own business?

"When I first started training animals professionally in 1980, women in the animal training industry were few and far between. The mindset was only men could train animals — women were considered 'too emotional.' Even the veterinary field was a male-dominated workplace. In my lifetime I have seen some changes as there are many more women trainers and veterinarians today, yet there still is a dogma or theory that is macho based, or that force is needed with animals. It is very pervasive and you may be looked over in certain animal training positions because of this. As a society, we still tend to be in love with power and how that is presented; a man will still be favored over a woman for training. Yet by learning all you can about your profession, it is possible to build your reputation as a trusted and recognized 'go to' expert. After all, knowledge is power."

Who do you admire and why?

"Karen Pryor is one the leading experts in animal training and behavior. I admire her as she was a pioneer at the time, (1960s) when women were not even acknowledged for their work with animals. She introduced clicker training and positive reinforcement in the 1990s and has gone on to establish an internationally recognized academy in dog training. My second hero is Dr. Sylvia Earle. She was voted by Time magazine in 1998 as the first Hero for the Planet as she brought awareness to the tragic state of our oceans. She founded her organization, Mission Blue, and was the first female scientist hired by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I greatly admire the work of African activist Wangari Maathai. She founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental organization focused on planting trees and environmental conservation in Africa. She was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. Last, but by no means least, the Native American activist and songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie. Her songs describe accurately the state of affairs of aboriginal peoples in this country. She was blacklisted during the 1970s as she openly stated her position on the way Native Americans were/are treated. It impacted her career to such an extent that most of her work as not been recognized until recently.These women and others worked against tremendous odds, they stayed on track regardless of the tremendous challenges and I find this very inspirational."

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