a little bit
I have trotted into dogs in my middle years after a career mixed between interior design and banking in London and New York – all of which I thoroughly enjoyed but I had a niggle that a piece of my life jigsaw was missing.
I grew up on a farm in the Welsh borders and at one time, we had six dogs – 2 border collies, 3 border terriers and my mongrel, Merry, who I adored and was a present from my parents when I was six. My family have always been very ‘doggy’ – we never went on holidays without the dogs and I have a memory of my father spending the night on the kitchen floor willing a sick dog to pull through by feeding her liver every hour (she survived) and my Mum tells a funny story about trying to drive along a twisty country road trying to get her fair share of fish of chips while Merry wolfed down more than hers!
In 2012, I had returned from New York and was fortunate to be able to take a break from my career … it turns out that missing piece of my life jigsaw was dog shaped. This heralded the arrival of Betty and the start of my thirst for knowledge about all things dog.
My sister helpfully suggested that Betty and I attend puppy classes as, in a blind panic, I realised that training methods had evolved massively since Merry’s arrival 40 years ago. The fates were smiling on me as my nearest puppy class, and vet, as it happens, were Winkie Spiers’ puppy classes at All Creatures Vets on Lavender Hill.
Betty and I have learned together over the last seven years and I have loved every second. I realised quickly that Winkie and PDTE’s methods were not like many other trainers I am aware of – PDTE trainers think differently and focus on making a dog’s life as fulfilling as possible. There are no one size fits all ‘rules’ about how dogs should behave. Why force a dog to sit too much when it could be bad for their hips or just plain uncomfortable for them, explaining why a harness is so much safer and more comfortable for a dog than a collar and questioning why so called dog-friendly activities such as speed agility and canicross may in fact be detrimental to a dog’s health and welfare. No one size fits all approach – we tailor the approach to the specific individual. We promote education for owners as to why giving calm, happy dogs the opportunity to make sound choices, and the opportunity to sniff, explore and just be a dog is so important.
Winkie very generously gave me the opportunity to help on her social walks over the last few years and learn from her and I admit that I have been a sponge and soaked up her knowledge hungrily. With her encouragement, I became an Associate Member of PDTE in 2017 and am so excited to be able to work with dogs and have the freedom to add positive behavioural changes to the dogs and owners I meet. And Betty keeps my feet on the ground by making me laugh and pointing out that dogs often do know better.
During the past 4 years, I have been fortunate to work with many dogs and a variety of behaviours. I am constantly striving to continue my professional development and have attended many seminars and workshops, along with dog training courses. This enables me to keep up to date with new insights and developments, providing my clients and their dogs with the most up to date and comprehensive advice.
BETTY & VINNIE
My Sister & Demon
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