Hey there, 

 

my name is Lina and I would like to introduce myself and tell you a little bit about my story.  

For as long as I can remember I’ve loved animals, especially dogs. Even as a child, I would approach every dog ​​that came my way wanting to pet him. Today I know better, and I politely ask the owner for their permission beforehand, but nothing about my early childhood enthusiasm has changed. Whenever I see a dog, I get excited. 

 

For many years I tried to convince my not-so-dog-loving father using all my tricks and charm until my parents finally agreed at the age of 13 to fulfill my dream and get me a puppy. Inka was an adorable, chubby Entlebucher Mountain Dog puppy with a very naughty attitude. She was not an easy one ​​to handle and I had my challenges with her, especially on an emotional level, until the day she passed away (Inka died quite old). But she certainly deserves her own article, so more on that topic another time. As does Balou (a Bolonka Zwetna dog) and Rico (a Lagotto Romagnolo breed), their two successors.   

 

Despite my great affinity for animals, I made a conscious decision to not study biology after graduating from high school (around 2007). I heard that part of biology studies was dissecting animals, and I definitely wasn’t a big fan of that. My biology teacher also advised that this subject might not be exactly my cup of tea. So, in midst of my indecisiveness, I went with studying psychology. It didn't excite me all that much, but it wasn't that terrible either to justify discontinuing my studies. Privately, I got to feed my enthusiasm for dogs with Balou in the agility park and I received exciting insights into the world of dog sports, a very unique world that is definitely worth its own article. 

 

From that point onwards it was clear to me that I wanted to work with animals, not only in my personal life but also professionally. 

 

After completing my degree in 2012, I was faced with a career crisis, where I questioned my purpose in life and had no sense at all of what I wanted to do next in my career. I had access to internships in various areas which were interesting, but none of them swept me off my feed. My sad favourite was an internship in personal development at an insurance company. During this internship, I felt so out of place with my fancy blazer and spiky heels to the point that I was uncomfortable. Even though I tried my best, I couldn't make friends with the people in this sterile building and vice versa. 

 

In midst of this career crisis, I stumbled upon the website of the Wolf Science Centre while I was browsing around and immediately got enthusiastic about their work. I applied for an internship and ended up spending some wonderful months in Austria which shaped me and my career moving forward. From that point onwards it was clear to me that I wanted to work with animals, not only in my personal life but also professionally. 

 

I completed a one-year dog training course in Germany and learned a lot about canine education and their expressive behaviour. At the same time, I started my thesis in comparative behavioural research. I examined the feelings of injustice in various social species, such as rats, monkeys, humans (children), dogs and wolves. I will dedicate a separate article on this very exciting topic sometime later. I spent most of my time working on my research at the University in Düsseldorf, but for the project involving dogs and wolves, I returned to the Wolf Science Center in Austria. Anyone who knows a little about science is aware that everything turns out different than what you expect (certainly everything). Therefore, research projects usually take much longer than a hard-working Ph.D. student like me would have ever dared to imagine. So, the day eventually arrived, where my generous scholarship came to an end, but the thesis was nowhere near finished.   

 

It was my wish to learn directly from and with those animals and this desire was finally fulfilled in 2017

 

Fortunately, at this point, an animal trainer position became available at the Wolf Science Centre. For me, this was the chance I had been waiting for. Although I enjoyed the scientific work, I always looked for a more personal and direct approach to these animals. As a research student, you are always an observer from the outside who collects data and then disappears into a dark little room to calculate statistics and write scientific papers. It was my wish to learn directly from and with those animals and this desire was finally fulfilled in 2017. Of course, I continued to pursue my Ph.D, though perhaps a little less dedicated than before, and I successfully completed it in 2019. 

 

Since the beginning of my wolf and dog training days, almost four years ago, I have been able to learn an incredible amount from these animals at the Wolf Science Centre, not only about them but above all about myself. I am currently writing down these personal experiences and lessons in my very own first book, which will hopefully come out soon. In my private life, I am gaining new experiences through my third dog, Rico, who also has a very unique and challenging way of growing my knowledge about dogs and advancing my personal development. 

 

I finally came to FunDogLand through Corinna, who I value very much as a “wolf colleague” and friend for the past two years. I am incredibly happy to be part of this wonderful project, to be able to contribute my experiences and stories as well as to (hopefully) entertain people with my content, and to be able to continue learning new things again! 

 

All the best! 

Lina