My first intoduction to dog training was in 1968 when I homed a 10 month old Dalmation. I had no background and knew little about the breed.
I soon learnt that he hadn’t had any training, not even a collar and lead, so began my training as well as his. He was for me my best teacher as there were no training clubs in the area. He lived till he was 14 years old.
In 1982, I purchased a Weimeraner puppy and had found several clubs for ‘Ring Craft’ and Pet Obedience’. The following year I purchased another Weimeraner puppy , very different to train and unfortunately had severe behavioural problems. In 1985 I had to have my young Weimeraner PTS on my vets advice as his unpredictable aggression worsened.
My first Weimeraner was a life-saver, we went to all sorts of events from Dog Shows, Charity Walks and Training week-ends at Derbyshire Canine Centre. He had shown me a whole new world of training. He lived until he was 11 years.
In 1993 I purchased an Italian Spinone puppy and carried on with my show and pet obedience training, also going to Gun Dog Training. I had been asked to help out at the many training clubs I attended and started to instruct with beginners, something I really enjoyed doing. I had watched how people trained, how other instructors trained and how to read people and their dogs. He was 11 years old when I lost him, a giant in size and personality.
During this time I had attended several events run by Manchester & Cheshire Dogs’ Home and asked about helping with fundraising. I ran a Dog Show for 5 years and was approached to become a consultant on the Management Committee. I was consultant for 4 years and a Trustee for the past 9 years. In May 2008 I was elected as Chairperson for the Charity.
I wanted to keep on improving my knowledge of dogs and their needs, along with my work with the Dogs’ Home. In 2000 I had the opportunity to enrol on a Home Study Course with the Canine Behaviour Centre run by Deborah Bragg. The course was difficult but in 2001 I passed my Dog Psychology Certificate and was nominated as Student of the month. I had learned an awful lot.
In 2002 I adopted a 4 month old Doberman puppy from Manchester Dogs’ Home, she was to prove to be a challenge, but also gave my Spinone a new lease of life. I had spoken to trainers about the Good Citizen Scheme and went along with both my dogs to watch. My Spinone passed his Bronze and he was already trained so I decided to train my Doberman. She passed her Bronze in 2003, her Silver the same year and Gold in 2004.
In 2002 I started my small business in Behaviour and One to One training, visiting people in their homes and started teaching the Good Citizen Scheme at a Club. This was looking forwards to my retirement from full time employment in 2005.
I was thrilled when the Kennel Club started the Accreditation Scheme and I enrolled at the start, not realising the work involved.
Unfortunately I was on my own in my local area, but felt that it was something to achieve and gain a great deal of knowledge, possibly not realising till you write it down just how much you have done. I can honestly say that after over 5 years work, many ring binders and lots of reading and encouragement from Sue Evens, I finally sent in my application to be accredited.
In 2008 I was duly tested by Barry Gilbert, Bill Hardaway and Sue Evans and my confirmation came through in February 2009 with my presentation at Crufts - a wonderful day.
2008 was a memorable year, elected Chairperson of Manchester & Cheshire Dogs’ Homes, gaining Listed Status for my own training session in the Good Citizen scheme and my Accreditation. I am particularly proud as I did mine on my own with no help, so I would say to anyone struggling, keep going the feeling of achievement is really something else.