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Inspiring Conversations with Sarah Anarna of Etsu & Me

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Anarna.

Hi Sarah, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I grew up and lived with my grandparents in the Philippines. When I was six, after my first bird, I constantly nagged them saying I wanted a dog. They resisted because of the amount of responsibility it requires. So they made a deal with me – if I get straight A’s, they’ll get me a dog. They thought, “There’s no way a straight C student would suddenly be motivated.” That semester, I got straight A’s and they kept their promise. 

But they added a new requirement — that I train my dog, make sure she’s fulfilled, and enforce boundaries so things around the house aren’t damaged. My grandparents made sure I kept my end of the bargain, especially because no one else in our house could with limited physical abilities. Ever since then, the idea of dog training and being responsible for a living and breathing being who doesn’t understand the human world unless we teach them stuck with me.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It wasn’t always a smooth road, even as a dog owner. My second and third dogs were tough. I had two Siberian Huskies: one that I adopted and one that I got 6 months later that I unknowingly got from a backyard breeder. I didn’t know any better at the time. I didn’t understand the difference between a backyard breeder or a reputable breeder. I didn’t know about health testing, that byb’s wouldn’t take a dog back no matter what, that the chances of them getting sick as a puppy was higher, that genetics matter, and more.

My first Siberian Husky, named Thunder, was a fearful dog who just seemed to be “good” because she didn’t wreak havoc in the house. I didn’t know how much a second dog would actually exacerbate any problems I haven’t fully addressed and make them more obvious. I quickly realized after getting my puppy how human reactive she actually was and how much she lacked confidence in general.

My second Siberian Husky, named Blizzard, was overexcited, had no boundaries, severe separation anxiety, hated the crate, pushed Thunder around, tore up my furniture, was an escape artist, and very dog reactive. At the time, it felt like the only “right” thing I did was potty training. The old things I learned when I was younger, to train my first dog that was a lab and very food driven, did not work at all.

Having both Thunder and Blizzard was tough. I tried working them out so much that we ran or biked for a few miles, not realizing I was only building their endurance and tiring them out. I wasn’t necessarily teaching them the behaviors I needed them to learn. I  constantly took them to dog parks with the thought that I was socializing them, but soon realized how it contributed to Thunder’s fearfulness and Blizzard’s dog reactivity. I felt like I did all the obedience training I could but it wasn’t enough as soon as I left them with someone else. I took classes, made use of online resources, did my absolute best but none of them taught me about relationship building and looking at the overall picture of our lifestyle.

Eventually, when life hit and I had to move back in with my mom due to domestic abuse with my significant other at the time and financially being unstable living by myself, the move showed the gaps in my dogs’ training.  They were out of control at the new house, or if I left them with someone else. After moving in with my mom, dad also became ill requiring him to be hospitalized. Soon, because my dogs’ weren’t trained or able to handle the new life change, I was forced to re-home them. Re-homing my dogs was the toughest decision, especially at a time that I felt I needed them the most.

Because of this, I promised myself that the next time I have another dog and even before I commit to one, I will do everything I can to learn how to train the individual dog in front of me. I can’t afford to lose another dog due to my lack of education and preparation for life changes that we may eventually run into. Unexpected things can happen, our lifestyle can change, but I can at least develop a good and solid communication with my dog before they do. As soon as I knew I was getting Etsu, my current Shiba Inu, the next part of my journey started.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Etsu & Me?
Etsu & Me helps owners build a deeper relationship with the dog in front of them while taking a holistic approach to set the family up for success. I put a lot of emphasis on humans learning how to understand their dog and their approach in nuanced ways. I’m known for continuously addressing the dog’s state of mind alongside obedience so dogs can also learn how to be calm with minimal management from their owners whenever possible.

I ask a lot from owners and communicate ahead of time the importance of doing homework every day outside of our sessions together. I don’t believe I’m inventing anything. Instead, I believe what sets me apart is not purely what I teach but the way I communicate and my attention to detail during our time of working together.

I believe that owners gaining clarity first, along with physically practicing the way you would for a sport or a new skill set really helps them simply enjoy the process of learning with their dog as opposed to having a set timeline. The truth is, we cannot dictate when or how fast another being learns, including our dogs. Each dog will have their individual quirk, nuance, and process. What we do have control over is ourselves and putting in the reps.

Two of the things I’m most proud of are: 

  1. The bond that deepens between the dog and their owner after training with me
  2. The deepened understanding that the family has about their dog, why they behave the way they do or how to navigate real-life situations together better

My services include:

– In Person Sessions for LA area

– Virtual Sessions for those outside of LA

– Board and Train

We’d love to hear about how you think about risk taking?
I view myself as an anxious person who values the benefits of risk. Naturally, I like the idea of going after my dreams, the possibilities, what could be, and more. I like the idea of doing my best to make my life the way I’d like it to be, instead of settling for what it is or what has been handed to me.

That said, that doesn’t make taking risks any easier for me. I can be fearful. I can be anxious. I can be unsure. I am an overthinker and problem solver who constantly gets in my head.

It’s easy to say that I am a risk taker, but I prefer to say that I value the benefits of risk more than anything because at the end of the day, it’s our values that drive our decisions.

When we value something more than another, our decision will likely lean towards that value.

Because I value love, I will risk loving, being in a relationship, and possibly getting my heart broken

Because I value time, I will risk traveling, building a business, developing my craft in other artistic endeavors and do things that feed my soul

Because I value authenticity, I will risk getting out of my comfort zone for the sake of learning more about myself and staying true to my internal world.

I believe we will not risk things for the sake of risks but for the things we value most.

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