Following My Dream but don't have a map

55 and for the last year found out what I want to do when I grow up. I have volunteered for Freedom Service Dogs in Englewood, CO for the last 3 years. For the last year I have fostered and trained dogs in the service program. FSD trains dogs rescued from shelters and dogs are donated to the clients that receive the dogs. Some dogs they bring in to the program aren't meant for service dog life, and FSD always finds them a furever home. It is just about the perfect place for me. Though it is hard to say goodbye when the dogs graduate and are placed with their matched client it is all worth knowing the changes the dogs make in a person with challenges of different kinds.

I seem to have a talent for training, definitely a great passion. The truth is that the opportunities to train service dogs for a living is rather limited. FSD is operated by donations only, and they keep as small of training staff as possible, no openings for some time so working there isn't an option. I've been out of work for several months after getting laid off from an attorneys' office that closed. I need and want to work, yet I so very much don't want to work in an office again. So now I feel quite lost.

Transitioning into a new career seems difficult. I think that prospective employers (such as working in a boarding kennel, dog walking) think that I am not physically capable of doing the job. Truth is I am in better shape now than I have been in younger years. But getting them to believe it is, well I don't know how.

It is to say the least frustrating. I stayed away from Freedom the last few months for other reasons too, but it hurts some times to know that the likelihood of a job like this is very low. I've been going back some now, and I LOVE working with the dogs. The other issue I face is that my husband complains when I have a foster dog at the house - we already have 3 Poms. I really miss having the service dogs with me - they go most everywhere with me as part of their training.

Felt like writing this tonight because my husband and I were with his famiy today, and he said there is no way WE are going to have another service dog live with us. I understand that we have a small house, and there are always changing dynamics when a new dog moves in for a few months. Though what I don't understand is that some inconvenience on his part is not worth it for me to do something that fulfills a great passion in me. I try to be a fair and equal partner but his attitude is hurtful - I don't ever ask him to share in the care of the dogs,and he often ignores things that I ask him not to do with the service dogs (or do, he refuses to use the cues we train for specific desired behaviors) just to remind me that he doesn't want them in our home. He admits he has liked most of the dogs that I have fostered but still doesn't want them around.

I feel very sad, and don't know how to go about having my dream. I'm not getting any younger, and don't want to spend the rest of my years working at some office that I hate. I guess I haven't ever been great at knowing what to do in my life and setting goals to meet.

I found TuDiabetes when googling for info about Diabetic Alert Dogs and haven't found out much more than I already knew but a couple of ideas. I really don't think the training would be that difficult - no more so than tasks I have taught service dogs. Where this would go I don't know either.

Paraphrased Socrates, "the more I know, the more I know the more I know I do not know."

I founded an animal rescue organization 10 years ago & want to thank you for your dedication. I understand your passion & also your sadness. I’ve lost track of how many dogs, cats & litters I’ve fostered over the years. Each one brought joy to my heart & also took a piece of my heart with them. Every animal I’ve fostered was met with resistance from my husband, though he’s proud of what I do. In all fairness, they do cause additional work for him. Not that this solves your situation or is any consolation, but animal rescue is almost exlusively a female endeavor & almost every woman I know in rescue has a husband (or significant other) who’s not supportive. Rare to see a couple on the same page in this area. Some resent the time involved, some the expense, some are jealous that a partner has found a passion & some just don’t understand. Perhaps a place to start the dialogue is to talk with your husband about what about specifically bothers him. Wish I could offer suggestions because you should follow your dream.

I wonder if maybe it’s hard on your husband to give the dogs up, but he doesn’t want to/isn’t able to admit that so instead he pushes the idea away. Why not start your own pet sitting/dog walking business. I did that a few years ago. Loved the pets and the people. However, as the business grew, it was pretty hard on my schedule since it’s primarily early mornings, late evenings, weekends and holidays. Also tough to make a living at it given gas prices, and the need to carry liability insurance. But…if you have some financial flexibilty and could find a good partner to work with, it’s a great way to spend time with animals and know you are providing a valuable service to their owners. I got a tremendous amount of help/info from this website if you decide you are interested.

Thank you for taking the time to give me your insightful thoughts. Someone in the past suggested my husband doesn’t like saying goodbye to each dog, and not what comes to mind for me, but my husband is not known for sharing his “soft” feelings so anything is possible. Thank you Gerri - when I think about it almost everyone I know involved in animal rescue is a woman - great observation. The woman who ran the Pom rescue where all three of my little guys found me told me that her husband just goes along with her tremdous rescue efforts 'cuz she doesn’t leave him much choice. My husband “allowed” me to foster after we had a long talk about how I felt about it, and a few months ago we had a dog that didn’t work for our house so he decided that was the time to “put a stop” to it. He likes to say what “we” aren’t going to do, and knows that isn’t how it works. I have backed off for a while because last year was filled with loss for him - 5 men he loved and was close with passed away. Yet my husband is the first to say that you have to go on living. I think you are right - I have to follow my dream, as I said I’m not getting any younger. Honestly my husband is a “grumbler” in general. It’s just his way - he is really a good guy, and his grandmother says he’s just like his father (who died many years ago), he fusses and acts gruff but is really a “pussycat.” A good friend says if it’s not this it will be something else (just the way it is with most men/couples). So, I think you are absolutely right - it is getting time for a very heart to heart talk with him. As with all things there is never a “perfect” time for talks like this. Exactly where I can go from there I don’t know but it’s a step forward. Thanks again to both of you.

Agree with Progress’ suggestion. Know saying good-bye to fosters is hard on my husband. He gets attached easily.