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The Duke of Aylmer

Fri, 2012-02-03 10:07

I have to be honest with you. Like right up front. I never wanted another dog. I had two others. Bailey and Dakota. They didn’t work out at all. They were aggressive and I wasn’t a good owner. So when it was suggested to me that I bring a new dog in my life, I was reluctant. Not openly, more to myself. In fact I just bit my tongue and went and saw the little of cute little Lab pups. Once there you can’t help but say, “Ahhhhhhhhhh”. They are cute, tiny, like little plush toys that interact with you. We picked one out, named it Duke, I wanted Tiberious, and began the adventure of owning another dog. There wasn’t a lot of time before the we became me and I was now the sole caretaker of the dog. At first I resented Duke. He tied you down, costed me hundreds and hundreds of dollars. In fact in the last two years including buying him I have spent close to 5000 dollars. Owning a dog seems cute and fun to most but it’s a huge commitment to the actual caretaker. It’s like a job or a relationship. Quite often they seem like an amazing idea or like they will be whimsical at the beginning, then when the reality of life slips in, there a lot of work. You can end a relationship, quit a job or a team. But I was stuck with Duke. As Duke and I grew older together we grew closer. We had our share of fights. He ate slippers, sandals and stuffed animals. He didn’t come when he was called… most times. He licked everyone to the point of discomfort earning him the nickname “Sir Licks-A-Lot” by my son. This fall I was at camp alone. First time in 8 years. Just me mostly. I started to walk everyday and I took Duke with me. We would do 5k or 8k every day. It was great because I lost over 20 pounds. It gave me a chance to be alone with my thoughts. If there is one thing I miss about living at camp it is the beauty of walking along the lake and the quiet of the Moon Point Beach Dr. I talked to the Universe every day and would often look down at Duke as cars past by. It looked like I was talking to him rather than to myself. I think he listened to me though. As we walked along he would look up at me with those big eyes and if I stopped he had an expression of “Go, on….” We became close. He was my friend. My confidant. My partner. When I moved to Aylmer (in the GLA) I made sure that my new home had a BIG back yard. I wanted Duke to be able to just go out. He loves it. He is happy. This past week, I had a very long, sad and sometimes angry time. I was down and Duke knew it. He would come to me and rest his head on my knee and sigh. I would pet him and he would lick my hand, just once. Like a way of hugging me or kissing me on the forehead to say, “It’s going to be ok.” He won’t leave my side now. We talk at length and he knows more about me then most people. Last night I was sitting in my living room with a new friend and he kept putting his paws on me. Resting it like he was wanting to hold me. This usually means he wants to go out or have dinner. I got up and walked to the back door and he stopped. He didn’t want to go out. He looked at me and started to walk back to the living room. We sat back down and he placed his paw again on my knee then his head and let out a deep sigh. He just wanted to say he loved me. That we are a team. He wasn’t going to leave me. We went out for a long walk to clear my head and get us both some exercise. As we walked down the main street of town a nice older couple stopped me and said, “He’s beautiful! What’s his name?” I said smiled and said “This is Duke.” They pet him, he of course gave them a lick. I am finally settling into this little town. I am finally excepting my new adventure and my solitude. As I walked away from that couple I looked down at him and said “Yes you are beautiful dog, you are a Duke, the Duke of Aylmer.” I had been looking for something or someone to cheer me up or come in or come back into my life. The whole time I forgot that I had the best friend I could ask for. Thanks Universe for reminding me and thank you for Duke.

  • Student Conferences

    We brought 40 students, mostly juniors, and the layout of the conference space and dorm space made our staff feel comfortable with supervision. The college also made it super easy for meals - everything was in the same complex. I HIGHLY recommend trying out this conference for those schools who haven’t yet. Top notch leadership experience!

    ~Bob Kline - Teacher - Huron Heights Secondary School, Kitchener, ON
  • Student Conferences

    Thanks so much for an amazing conference. We’re already looking forward to EOSLC 2018!

    ~Riley McMullen - Tagwi Secondary School - Avonmore, ON
  • Student Conferences

    I want to thank you for giving my students the opportunity to attend EOSLC!! On the drive home, they were discussing how wonderful the speakers were, and the spirit leaders, and the venue, and the whole experience!!!

    I know they have taken with them new insight as to what it means to be a leader! I thank you for that! You must be so proud to have so much positive influence on the youth of tomorrow.

    Thank you, thank you!!

    ~Jennifer Neville -VALOUR SCHOOL - Petawawa
  • Training Centres

    We had such a great time! Your camp is aMazing. The students loved it, and did things they never thought they would have! The slide show at the end was the cherry on top!!!

    ~Amanda - Teacher - Huron Heights Secondary School
  • Stu Speaks

    Students were very engaged, enthusiastic and excited. Stu is hilarious…seriously. “Humour is never a bad thing” said one student.

    ~Annalisa Varano - Vice Principal - St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School
  • Stu Speaks

    They say a great presenter “leaves them wanting more”. Well, we loved your presentation and the entire team asked me when you will be back! You are truly STUpendous!

    ~Nancy Klensch - Founder of Summit Kids
  • Stu Speaks

    Stu is an energetic, entertaining and dynamic presenter. He captures is audiences’ attention and keeps the room engaged for the entire presentation! His stories in his presentation captures everyone at different points, even the teachers!

    ~Sara Meaney - Cobourg Collegiate Institute
  • Stu Speaks

    Stu was great! Staff and students felt it really broke the anxiety in the building and we even got cupcakes today from one of the students.

    ~Carrie Rowlandson - William Aberhart High School, Calgary Alberta
  • Stu Speaks

    Stu was fantastic. There is nothing better than seeing 600 adolescents laughing their heads off. He delivers a terrific message and has the entire audience engaged, thinking, listening and most importantly laughing within seconds, and he keeps it going for over an hour. Thanks again on behalf of the Shores!!

    ~Doug Woods - Vice Principal, Nantyr Shores Secondary School
  • Stu Speaks

    Stu’s speech did exactly what I hoped it would do when I tried to bring him in: it brought the school together for a good laugh while empowering the student body to be the change they wish to see in their classroom. I feel he hit this goal perfectly.

    ~Steven Fotheringham - Oakville Trafalgar High School
  • Stu Speaks

    I really liked how the speech really just seemed like Stu was telling us funny stories, but he always related it back to the overall message. It didn’t sound like a speech at all, it was as if he was just talking to the crowd. I would say that he is excellent in connecting with the audience and keeping them entertained. There was not a two minute period in Stu’s speech were nobody was laughing. He kept us amused throughout the entire presentation. I thought he was perfect.

    ~James Palloto
  • Stu Speaks

    I would highly recommend Stu, his engaging personality was a real hook for the students and his messages were ones that many of them could identify with. The humour was great and the students shared that they enjoyed the presentation.

    ~Teresa Fowler - W.H. Croxford High School, Airdrie, Alberta
  • Stu Speaks

    Stu is personable. Students are willing to listen to him. They enjoy listening to him. He has a message, but he is also entertaining. He is fun to listen to and students don’t feel talked down to or preached at.

    ~Tanya Lacey - McKinnon Park Secondary School, Caledonia, ON
  • Student Conferences

    OSLC has played a pivotal role in the growth and development of our Student Activities Council leadership group over the 10 years we have been attending. The chance to get away together, bond as a group, meet other awesome leaders and advisors from across the province, and be challenged by some of the best speakers in the world has made a huge impact on the enthusiasm and effectiveness of our leadership program.”

    ~Jeff Gerber, Waterloo Oxford District Secondary School, Baden, Ontario
  • Training Centres

    “Just want to thank the Pigeon Lake YLCC staff for another wonderful experience. My Grade 7 class just returned from their overnight with smiles on their faces and singing ‘pizza man’. I have taken a group for a number of years now and I never tire of the experience. YOU rock!”

  • Youth Camps

    “Thank you Stu and Ornj and the AMAZING counsellors and staff for making the past two weeks amazing for Noah. He sobbed when we left, and can’t wait to return. He showed me his journal and we compared it to last year’s - what a difference a year makes.”

  • Youth Camps

    “Nothing makes my heart sing more, than to see my kids having the most amazing life experiences together. YLCC makes this happen every year. Pure Gold. ‘Thank You’ can’t really cover it …”

  • Youth Camps

    “Thank you for the best summer I have experienced to date. YLCC taught me how to embrace my values and to express opinions. The entire camp and amazing staff believed in me achieving any goal I were to set. “

  • Student Conferences

    OSLC to me is family, period.

    ~Hayley Press
  • Student Conferences

    OSLC showed me through the people I met what it was to be a better leader by how you act and what you do.

    ~Ben Arnold
  • Student Conferences

    OSLC is an experience where you can literally go and see 1000’s of other teens that have the same desire as you to lead and make a change in the world. The energy is electric, the movement is massive and the memories are completely unforgettable. The experience is one you fully cant understand without going there, there is an indescribable and irreplacable feeling that is created there, and it sticks even after you leave.

    ~Brittany Roney
  • Student Conferences

    OSLC changed my life. I have never felt so alive in my entire life. I met so many people who I will be life long friends with. The energy is amazing and the inspiration is indescribable.
    If there was one memory I could remember it would be OSLC.

    ~Maddison F
  • Student Conferences

    I don’t even know how to begin or where to start telling you how amazing OSLC was and how amazing and incredible you are! This event was truly life changing for me and my council, thank you so much for this, for OSLC and for you. You are truly an inspiration and have shown me so much and have lit a fire inside me.

    ~Joshua McCallum, Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School, Strathroy, Ontario
  • Student Conferences

    I have been bringing students to the Ontario Student Leadership Conference for over 10 years. Our students clamour for a spot at the conference because they have heard about it and want to be a part of it. They always come back from the conference excited and motivated to make positive changes in our school and community. The speakers are always world class and the workshops inspire and educate the students, I look forward to being part of this incredible conference for years to come, keep up the great work.

    ~Kyle Pope, Oakville Traflagar High School
  • Student Conferences

    This conference consistently fosters, in the students who attend, a sense of community in leadership that I’ve yet to see generated to this degree anywhere else. Former students have told me, years later, that the OSLC was the highlight of their high school experience. I believe them.

    ~Ross Thomson, Craig Kielburger Secondary School, Milton, Ontario
  • Student Conferences

    I have been attending OSLC a number of years with our Students’ Council Executive. There is no other opportunity that I am able to offer my students that leads to such enthusiasm and ideas for the school year. Many of my students have worked as Spirit Leaders at the conference, and more than once students have told me how OSLC has changed their life. On top of that, OSLC is one of the very few conferences that allow for PD for staff members who work in student leadership. More than once I have had my own commitment to student leadership refreshed through workshops at OSLC.

    ~Tanya Lacey, McKinnon Park Secondary School, Caledonia, Ontario
  • Stu Speaks

    I was at the OCA conference on May 6th, and I just wanted to thank you on being such a wicked keynote… you definitely put me back in the camp mindset and reminded me of what’s truly important about the up-coming summer. Once again, a job very well done.

    ~Emily Summers
  • Stu Speaks

    The students really enjoyed Stu’s humour and low-key but critical message about getting involved and getting the most out of their High School experience. I would recommend Stu as a speaker who relates well to students, is funny, and gets the message out without preaching.

    Thank you,

    ~Lynn Toye