The Choices We Make

The Choices We Make

July 12, 2009 by Linda J. Brodzik

September, 2008, I set out on a cross country road trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to take a class with one of my very favorite scientists. It sounds odd to say this aloud, but yes, I do have favorite scientists! Kathy Sdao was giving an advanced clinic in behavior and learning theory.  I had attended another of Kathy’s clinics earlier that year and was impressed with not only her detailed knowledge but also the energy and spirit she brought to her teaching. She has a unique and special way of engaging her students, motivating their minds and empowering their ability. I was excited to be a student of hers once again.

As I arrived at the facilities where the clinic was to be held I was in shock. It was in a run down and littered industrial park that looked as it should have been abandoned long ago. I soon realized that on this weekend of an extreme heat index of 109 degrees we would be with out air conditioning, using porta potties and left with no place to exercise our dogs who accompanied us as our working partners for the clinic. This was a far cry from what I, and I am sure others, had expected and what I experienced at past clinics. I briefly considered leaving, but I had traveled far to be there and was really looking forward to the lessons I would learn from Kathy. If she was willing to teach under these conditions I would be ready to learn.


The clinic was a great success. Despite the heat and humidity every one was having a great time learning and teaching their dogs. Kathy was in top form, displaying a happy and fully engaged demeanor.  Making comments about the heat and facility in good humor, I was sure she would never return to this facility for a clinic again. It was an incredible experience to see Kathy actually get better as the clinic progressed on. Drenched in sweat and sporting a bad hair day, she hit a peak of interest, engagement and sincere connection as she actually stayed after the clinic ended to talk with her students personally should they have questions. I waited until the last person had finished with their questions and then approached. I had to tell her what was on my mind. I told her of my cross country travel to see her and I thanked her. I thanked her for the sense of peace, the sense of belonging, the sense of acceptance, and the empowerment that I felt during the duration of her clinic. I told her how much I needed to be at her clinic that particular weekend and how it confirmed for me the choices we make. Given the worst of situations she shined throughout the entire clinic, only getting more vibrant as the time and heat worn on. She never missed a beat, not that we saw, or lost her sincerity, engagement or humor with us, her students. She chose to live from her joy, and to share it with all of us who came to learn from her.



* You can learn more about Kathy Sdao, her clinics and read her informative articles on behavior and training by visiting her website at:

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