From the Den of Erika Burns Andres:

Experience.

Experience is who we are. It is what makes us, forever teaching and molding us and ruling our view points, and emotions, and our knowledge, and communication skills.

Experience, when learned from, and applied; helps us to become better people in this world if we apply the lessons from the experience, and comprehend the experience.

In my personal journey with wolfdogs and wolfdog community, I have learned that it is a journey of continued learning. This journey occurs online and offline.

I have found it best to stay humble, and try to keep in mind that we are all students. I was a breeder before Facebook times. This made online a peak of the desired education of  the things I wanted to learn further. 

I figured out quick it was going to be an experience to learn from, but  I would have to learn by tuning out the distractions that come with it.

The first Facebook wolfdog I ever saw was (Loki), that belonged to Cindy Matthews. I recall going wow that is one of the best wolfdogs I have ever seen. 

He looked so much like the very first one I saw in my childhood at age 6. The one I saw at age 6 was my first inspiration. However Loki was my first online inspiration. 

Later I recall seeing pictures of (Shango) that belongs to Sharon Green it was love at first site again. My goal was to always breed down in content, then back up.

However, the very first two wolfdogs I saw on Facebook became inspirations for me to try and mold and mimic far as looks. It never happen, but lead me to the very looks so many see today from us. 

I recalled learning why wolf hybrids were now called wolfdogs. We always called them hybrids in the 90’s, the online wdc educated and explained why wolves and dogs do not produce hybrids. 

This took some adjusting to far as using the correct terms. But eventually I settled to be politically correct. I recall thinking to myself , I need to mold my animals like this one or that one. But found I kept getting distracted in education with arguments and unwanted drama being new to Facebook.

So my next focus was, (who do I want to be like and get more of a productive experience) ? And this is not to offend anyone. But I wanted to be like Sharon Green.  She educated , but was never biased, never really took part in drama, or attacks on people. And would ask questions in further learning. This gave me a guide as to what personality is the best way to learn, and still be able to coexist with as many in the wolf dog community as possible. 

Aside from the obvious education, a few things I learned were as follows.

Never assume just because people say something is fact. 

Get to know people on a more personal level.

In most cases, never give up hope that people can change.

Approach is essential to education.

Remain humble, and never be afraid to ask questions.

Educational experience goes better when we educate with genuine concern.

I  try to keep in mind that we don’t truly know others back ground, genetic influences, or life circumstances that influence their thinking or learning process.

I learned to be greatful for any progress fellow owners may venture to make, as humans have free will. They don’ have to do anything or any change. So when we see that change acknowledge it.

I have met so many that have influenced me in my journey of betterment. 

I have met some that are models as to what I do not want to be. And others that I have seen a love, a passion, a logic that serves as all id like to embody.

I have seen so many change for the better, and while I don’t know what changed their heart, aside from gaining a true love for wolfdogs and fellow owners. I can say that I feel education and the experience of the wolfdog community is indeed getting better for new comers to remain unbiased, focused on education, and in turn better in education than those before.

We now have even more to learn. Genetic testing such as Embark, is a new look into wolfdogs that gives insight far deeper than pheno ever could. So once again it is something to have to comprehend and learn more about and expound in education from there. For me it has been a learning experience from the time the wolfdog community began to embrace it. So now I have a mental check list to aide in my experience of the wolfdog community. 

1. Analyse for positive logic and learning.

2. Practice good human relation skills.

3. Find someone who conducts themselves in a way you coincide with to be a positive asset to the wolfdog community, and by example encourages you.

4. Never feel content. As it slows learning and evolving for betterment.

5. Ask questions, and fact check the answers.

6. Have genuine concern.

7. Recognize your gifts and stick to those as we all have various gifts. When we try to go beyond our gifts it can mess up education for others.

8. Learn about wolves and wolfdogs and all the core basic essentials. 

9. Learn from the mistakes of others as well as my own past.

10. Learn about Embark and what it means for wolfdogs, and what it means for previous education and future education. And what it means for a breeder and their breeding program. And learn how it can be a rescues dream come true. For even more informed placement. 

11. Try to keep in mind just as much as we love our animals , try to offer the same genuine love for your fellow humans. Lack of compassion for our own kind is not natural, but should never be limited. I’ve figured out many humans have that issue. But I can’t judge because I really had a pretty good upbringing that taught me to do these things. I do fall short at times for logical reasons.

12. Just because some articulate better than others, it is best to consider the message than the format. Example; If a person says, (wow the stratus clouds look divine). That is wonderful and educated indeed. However; if another member says, ( The thinner clouds are very pretty).  It is the same concept just written in two different formats that say the same thing. Education is not governed by articulation alone, but knowledge. Always consider the facts behind the knowledge, regardless of format.

13. Get to know members on a personal level,it will save a lot of heart break, and you might just make a great friend or two in the process.

I have tried to make all these things into a checklist to be a better member, better educator, better breeder. And a better friend. 

In the process of going by this guide, I have met rescues that were so nice and logical. That care so much about the animals. I have made some really awesome friends along the way as well. I have met many, but I swear I knew Samantha Tambor in a past life. It’s like I went to school with her or something. It’s honestly hard to explain. If anyone can get through to me and make since of things that don’t add up to me, it’s her. 

There are others that have a place in my heart as well. And have helped so much with my education and experience in the wolfdog community. Kim Miles, Jerry Mills, Kat Woldancer, Janice Mcguire, the late Donald Lewis, My customers/friends, Juan Cypress Creek. Bobby B and I use to talk years ago, I actually like him. Though his experience has made him become very reserved. 

Certain people’s drive has also inspired me. Back when there were forums Cindy was like an investigator I learned much from her research. Christa Ward was the first to try and understand my program with breeding lows. And actually made me feel she really was asking for the right reasons. She was the first ever I shared my goals with. 

I was always totally terrified of rescue views. Rescues that changed my mind that rescuers can be logical and have a heart based on logic love and compassion for the animals and people were as follows.

Natasha Handcock
Nancy Brown
Justine T
Sonia S
Connie Howard
John Deboard
Malinda S
Melissa Greene 
Stephanie A
Deborah S
John Smith

There are others as well, but those names come to mind first.

Passion for education is as follows

Greg Largent 
Deanna M
Samantha Tambor
Natasha Handcock
Kim Miles
Jody Haynes
Rose P
Kat Wolfdancer
Richard Vickers
George S
Laura Loft
Stephanie Alcorn

There are so many I can’t name them all. As I continue this journey the above guidelines of learned experience is what has made my journey of experience positive, educational, and perception changers. I hope to continue to learn more, and see us all change for the betterment of each other, the betterment of wolfdogs and the future of wolfdogs. I hope that my place in the community online and offline can be a positive one and others may learn from it. If I could say any meaningful advice, it would be to love equally. The rest will work itself out if that one key factor is truly followed. Forgive equally. The biggest challenge of the wolfdog community is the wolfdog community.  I look forward to the day all can truly see that. 

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