Gretchen Icenogle is still learning.
How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? More than anyone can count. How many mistakes does it take to get to the sweet, chewy center of life? Gretchen may never know, but the way she figures it, the more mistakes she makes, the quicker she'll get there. She swings many times daily from brilliant to fuck-up and back, optimistic that sometime, in the not-too-distant future, she'll acquire a bit of grace.
More specifically and prosaically, Gretchen is a writer and dog trainer living in Portland, OR with a motley family that includes three dogs and one husband, all of them resplendently indifferent to her ideas about how they're supposed to behave - unless she makes listening worth their while.
Sadly, she has had to give up all hands-on training since her diagnosis about a year ago with an extremely aggressive form of breast cancer. In October, a brain metastasis made itself known, and Gretchen became a member of that elite club of people who hear "You've got six months to live! How do you want to use it?" Her answer? Improvise, improvise, improvise! And write many thank you notes. Here's a good place to start if you're interested in that part of her animal-centered journey:
If you're wondering how much credence to give Gretchen's moderately odd views, and you would take comfort from her more formal credentials, here they are:
Gretchen Icenogle (CPDT-KA) has spent most of her forty-five and one half years pursuing knowledge of dubious practical utility. She earned a B.A. in English and American literature (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) from Brown University, later an M.A. and Ph.D. in dramatic art from the University of California at Santa Barbara; she has taught literature, composition, theatre history, acting, directing, and playwriting to students ages 12 to 75. She spent many years in the English and theatre departments at Portland Community College, where she was beloved (far from universally, of course) by students and deeply mistrusted (pretty much universally) by administrators, Ditto for a year in a visiting position at Reed College. She finally got the memo and got the hell out of academe. Working as a volunteer at the Oregon Humane Society (under the warm and expert supervision of Tanya Roberts and Jenna Kirby), she renewed her lifelong kinship with unruly canines and discovered her new calling as a trainer. She founded Bridgetown Dog Training in 2012 with the aim of forging happy partnerships between people and dogs who share her impatience with the phrase "because I said so." Throughout these professional peregrinations, writing has remained her deepest calling. Her play The Mark won the 2006 Drammy for Outstanding New Script, and in 2011 she received the William Stafford Fellowship for Creative Nonfiction from Oregon Literary Arts to support the completion of her memoir, Theater of Anatomy. Look for her essay "Kansas in Technicolor" forthcoming this spring in the "Fix" issue of Oregon Humanities magazine
If you'd like to share your thoughts on positively kicking ass, or you'd simply like to say hi, you can reach Gretchen by emailing gretchen [at} bridgetowndogtraining [dot] com.
Gretchen hopes The Mouth of the Wolf functions as a grateful shout out and source of support to everyone with the courage to speak up in defense of joy, vitality, compassion, and uncommon sense. In bocca al lupo!