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As I read other people's stories, I am struck by how well-written and sometimes whimsical they are. I will try to write something that doesn't just read like a CV.
When I left Telopea, I came to Melbourne to study Sociology at Monash University. This was the era of student radicalism and it seemed very exciting to me. As far as I am aware, I was the only Telopean to do Sociology. It was in its infancy in those days. I loved my student years, and learned a lot about music and philosophy as well as doing my formal studies. After graduating, I got a job at the Centre for Urban Research and Action, which was set up by Brian Howe, who became a sort of mentor. I was involved in projects related to low income housing, amongst other things. I was part of the group that set up Melbourne's first women's refuge, and I think we really made a difference. After that I worked at the Western Region Centre for Working Women. We did pioneering work researching issues raised by women factory workers and women working as outworkers. I contributed to the legal case bringing outworkers under the Clothing Trades Award, which was a major breakthrough for this very exploited group.
The case was conducted by - guess who? - Julia Gillard. I became interested in women working in Asia, and attended various meetings in the Philippines, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan. In 1980 - 81 I spent a year living in Japan. I was on the outskirts of Tokyo, and I loved it there. I learnt (some) Japanese, and found out a lot about women workers in Japan. Japanese people were really good to me and I really feel for them, in the wake of the dreadful Tsunami over there.
When I got back to Australia, I continued working at the Centre for Working Women, until funding for that sort of thing dried up. I decided to go back to studying, and in 1987 I enrolled in Law at Melbourne University. I had a mortgage at the time, so I had to study part time and work to support myself, so it took me six years to complete the degree. That was OK. I really enjoyed studying, although law is terribly hard work. As a hobby, I trained my dog. I had always loved dogs, and I remember telling my mother when I was about 7 that I wanted to be "a farmer's wife" when I grew up. I wasn't interested in the farmer, I just wanted to be with animals. I used to train my dog in the park, and people would come up to me and ask if I did lessons. At first I just said no, I was just training my own dog. But when the recession hit and it became hard for me to find part time work to fit in with my studies, I began to offer dog training lessons. I did individual lessons in the client's own home, tailoring what I did to their needs. This was a totally novel approach at the time. I chose the name "Wagging School" and business boomed. When I finished my Law degree, I was unable to get Articles as a mature age graduate, so I thought I would give full time dog training a go for one year, and then reconsider my options.
After that, I never looked back. I became a pioneer in new dog training methods (reward-based rather than force-based) and also in helping pet owners with problems rather than pursuing formal obedience competition. I attended seminars in the US, and found they were five years ahead of us in this field. I find animal intelligence and behaviour really interesting. Amongst other things I gave classes for people wanting to get their dogs into film and television.
Unfortunately, this all came to an end about five years ago. I developed severe arthritis in my hips, and lost mobility, so I had to retire. I went through a bad period of adapting to chronic pain and disability. However, this year, things have really looked up for me.
I had my first hip replacement operation in February 2011, and my second operation in June. Both ops went really well, and I no longer have hip pain. I am doing physiotherapy to get my strength and endurance back. I am in the process of learning how to walk without crutches, which is awesome! I didn't think I'd be able to make it to the reunion, but my mobility has improved to such an extent that I now think I can cope with travel, so I am planning to be there.
I never married or had kids, although I did have a couple of relationships that came close to it. I am now single and I live with my German Shepherd dog (the fourth I have owned), and I share my house with a Vietnamese Masters student. I am living in East Brunswick, Melbourne, in a house that I have now paid off. I enjoy movies and socialising with my friends. I am interested in what's going on in the world and I am passionate about Opera and human rights issues. I feel I have have had an interesting life pursuing things that interested me. I am really looking forward to catching up in October.
addendum December 2011
I completed a Law Degree at Melbourne University in 1992. After that I went to the US and on coming home I went into dog training full time, not being sure whether this would be short-term or long-term, or whether I would go on to do more in Law. As it turned out, my dog training career became very successful and rewarding, and I never got around to attending my Graduation Ceremony. I thought it was time to remedy this and give myself a chance to be recognised for my achievement.I attended Graduation on Tuesday 6th December 2011. My friends Ulla and Janet came with me as guests, along with my mother Betty