Ginny with her own dogs Brooke, Mica, Sally & Jane
A Glimpse into the world of Ginny Venning
Welcome to Venning & Company. The first thing you need to understand is that the name is simply a play on words and not a real “company” in the usual business sense. It just sounded better than “Ginny & her Dog Friends”. :)
I reached a point in my life where I wanted to work for myself doing something I really love. I didn’t have to look any farther than “dogs” to find it and I ended up with the best job in the world!
I now spend my days talking and walking and sharing my home with dog companions – get to know me and you’ll understand why this is such a good fit.
Dogs, Horses, Mountains and Adventure
My lifelong involvement with dogs -- and listening to the beat of my own drum -- has taken me on an a long and interesting journey.
My love for dogs was a springboard for my own training and grooming facility in the 70’s. During those years I also built up a little farm and raised some horses, pigs, ducks, turkeys and chickens.
For two seasons I competed with my horses in a local women's "cowboy-polo" league and managed to break my front teeth in one particularly vigorous match.
Front teeth restored, I moved on to my adventure of a lifetime in the 80’s as a licensed professional guide in Idaho’s mountain backcountry and a position as General Manager for one of the most respected horsemen outfitters in the state.
In Idaho's Clearwater Mountains I was able to hone my inherent skills in organization and logistics with a life on wilderness trails spending months at a time living and working in remote tent camps.
As professional outfitters we took people on trips into the mountains leaving civilization far behind. Back in the 80's there were no cell phones or internet or any of the high-tech things we take for granted nowadays.
Cloudy nights were so pitch-black outside you couldn't see your hand in front of your face... but on clear nights the stars shown so brightly I swear you could read a newspaper by star-light alone. It was magnificent.
My appreciation grew for a “calm & quiet” life along with a very keen sense of self-reliance.
We ran a 4-season outfit transporting our clients and their gear on horseback into thousands of acres of pristine forest far from the nearest road in Idaho's Clearwater National Forest. In the spring we hunted bear, summer was filled with fishing and photography expeditions along with transporting gear on the backs of mules in a "packstring" into our High Camp for the fall's premier event, elk hunting.
As winter approached we came back down to our ranch overlooking the Dworshak Reservoir for some late fall deer and winter mountain lion, along with steelhead fishing on the Clearwater River.
At the ranch we had electricity and back in those early 80's I discovered something called a computer. OMG! My brain ignited with the possibilities and I've never been the same since. Self-taught, I took to DOS like a duck to water.
The next 20 years I worked with my brother, Scott, in his businesses at Venning Enterprises.
We broke ground in the burgeoning cellular telecom industry from the days when cellphones were in the shape of bags & bricks to the modern era of way-cool smartphones.
I took those hard-won computer skills and morphed myself into a spreadsheet-queen and data-maven. I loved creating forms and business literature and marketing plans. And I discovered I LOVED Operations!
Scott and I became terrific partners. Our individual strengths combined into something very powerful as a team. Those were very heady days -- people were nearly crazy to buy their first cellular phone. One Christmas Eve we actually had to turn our business-phones off at 8 pm because we were exhausted taking orders and, well... it was Christmas!
Over those years I earned a solid reputation as an innovative problem solver whether handling logistics for complicated technology upgrades, troubleshooting operational issues, or building successful marketing strategies involving our Fortune 500 clients.
It was quite an adventure of a totally different kind than what I had experienced on my own when I was younger. Scott's businesses are many-faceted -- in addition to telecom we also worked with high performance racing engines for pro-stock drag racing, motocross, supercross, arenacross and even documentary film-making of a race-car restoration process.
It's never dull in this family.
Dogs and Agility
Concurrently, from the early 90's to the mid-2000's I immersed myself and my dogs in the world of dog agility and was an avid and successful competitor and instructor. For several years I spent most weekends on the road traveling to agility trials all over the midwest.
Over the years I competed with 3 different dogs earning advanced titles in 6 different agility venues. I loved the feeling of true human/canine partnership. After countless hours of training and competition there's a bond that forms unlike anything I'd ever experienced. It was like I'd inhale and my dog would exhale -- intensely personal 2-way communication.
I ultimately retired from agility due to injuries (mine and my dog's) and I looked for another passion I could share with my dogs that didn't require racing on foot.
Dogs and Sheepherding
I discovered herding sheep, goats, and ducks! Fortunately it required more stratetic thinking from me and less running at full speed. :)
I also rediscovered my affinity for "life on the farm" and working with animals. I volunteered to help care for the livestock and learned on my own how to shear sheep, doing "haircuts" on a flock of over 100 for several years. (Not as hard as agility on my feet, but plenty hard on my back!)
Once again I was able to do meaningful work with my dogs. I enthusiastically threw myself into herding and gained the skill to become a “stock-handler” and work at local herding trial competitions.
As a stock-handler, my border collies and I worked together as partners to sort and move livestock around the farm as needed and set them up for the next competitor, rain-&-mud or shine.
Doing actual useful work with a dog as my partner is one of the all-time highs of my entire life.
I am a lifelong student of animal behavior and dog training techniques. I think the most important aspects of teaching and training are to get the students (humans and dogs) to feel they are making progress and enjoying the journey.
Students need to have a clear understanding of what the goal of the lesson is supposed to look and feel like.
It’s a teacher/trainer’s responsibility to fan the flame of their student’s interest and have them eager to come back for more.
If your human or canine student doesn’t enjoy the process, what’s the point?
Communicating with Dogs
To make the most of your relationship with your dog, 2-way communication is essential.
Dogs are “talking” to us all the time. It’s up to us to learn their language.
"Dog talk" is mostly body language – the change of an ear set, the narrowing of the eye, the tension or relaxation in a lip, or the posture of neck and shoulder just to name a few.
Too often all our dogs hear from us is “blah-blah-blah” because we humans tend to use lot of words that our dogs don’t understand.
What we really need is to be more conscious of our own tone of voice and body language.
Dogs are masters at reading BOTH.
To communicate better with your dog YOU need to learn to:
RADIATE CALMNESS -- your dog can read your mood better than your spouse.
SPEAK QUIETLY -- your dog has excellent hearing.
Pay attention to what your own POSTURE AND POSITION communicates. Your dog is hard-wired to read body-language... even yours.
PRAISE LAVISHLY for what you want to continue -- try to ignore the rest.
In training, try to set up the situation so your dog can be successful. Success breeds success. Don't push too hard -- find a way to get your dog to WANT to do more. Take little steps and build on those. Little steps make strong foundations.
What can you count on with me?
My personal strengths are a deep-seated sense of responsibility, perseverance and adaptability. I have a wide range of abilities with a rock-solid dependable core.
I live each day with a positive outlook and I’m blessed with a genetically hard-wired gift to seek out a solution to every problem I encounter.
I am one of the most organized and detail-oriented people you will ever meet.
I’ve combined a lifetime of experience with my love of dogs -- and a sense of humor great enough to be able to enjoy it -- to come up with a passion called “Ginny & her Dog Friends”.
No, that still sounds silly, so I think I’m going to keep calling it “Venning & Company”.
Yes, you're right. That skyline is downtown Chicago! Ginny and her sheltie Jane did a duck-herding demo in front of hundreds of people at Chicago's Celtic Fest. Just to my left at the edge of the grass was Lake Shore Drive -- no fences between us and the roadway.