Hello. Well it has been a while since I wrote a blog post – I’m sorry about that. 2020 has been a difficult year for us all and it continues to throw obstacles in our way. Like most things in life the impact of current events are going to be with us for a long time. I have tried to look at as many positives as I can but even this can fail to work and we all have moments of negativity, and nothing can undo the sadness of loosing loved ones. However, I hope that this has made me grow, more understanding and tolerant of others (we all have our own personal space) and more patient.
My journey to become an Animal Centered Education (ACE) instructor has helped me find a wonderful support group, has opened my eyes and given me confidence to take things slowly. Our dogs have also had to cope with lots of changes to their lifestyle and routine. Some have enjoyed this, becoming more relaxed on walks due to less dogs off lead, learnt to be calm at home and embrace the lack of routine. Other dogs have hated this time, the lack of socialisation, need for more time running free and missed the thrill of competition. My training methods have changed to take this into account, we all need some extra support, some space and most importantly a time to try to forget about the world and focus on you. Working with our dogs allows us to be in the moment, to observe and relax, to find joy in achieving a common goal and build confidence back up. Yes we get frustrated at times, but we are only human and our dogs are only dogs. Take a step back and allow yourself that time to breath. Freework allows us to give this same comfort to our dogs. A moment when they are in control, calm and there are no wrong choices. When we are stressed we are less able to make good decisions, we act on impulse and often look back later and wonder why we did what we did. Our dogs are the same, and it is up to us to help them relax and be in a position to make the right choices. It isn’t rocket science, it can cost very little and it will change your relationship with your dog forever. I am still on the first step of many, I am still making mistakes and my dogs still need more, BUT I’m making the changes, learning from each mistake and walking forwards every day.
ACE work is truely AMAZING and AWESOME, thank you Sarah Fisher and I cannot wait for the next course to begin.
Well October was a mixed month with some big lows but massive highs. The month started with a very unexpected visit to A&E, surgery and a message to take things very easy for a month. As you can imagine this is not easy when working on a farm and training dogs, but I made it work with a little help from my fellow trainer Jo covering classes so there was no interruption to training.
The biggest hurdle was what to do about the hoopers workshop and shows I was going to?!? Well, this is where the amazing hoopers family came to my aid. I’ve already mentioned in my first blog how lovely they all are and how I got numerous hugs and bits of cake passed to me. What was also great was that Bolt had to step up to a challenge – I couldn’t run with him at all, in fact my handling was reduced to as few steps as possible and limited moving. I went to the workshop expecting very little as he had done nothing since Tri-score and would probably get frustrated with me not supporting him. I was so very wrong, he worked like a dream and ran with drive and distance I could only dream of. So on to the show, surely the workshop was all luck and we would mess this up. Nope, he ran four great runs, I made a silly mistake in the hoopers and looked at the challenge line (something I have never even attempted before) so that was my fault. For the tunnellers and touch-N-go not only did he fly around but I managed bonus points. I even got an applause from the crowd for my handling. Zoe was in a different mood and just zoomed at every chance, poor Jo had to keep on her toes to get Zoe around.
On to the next show, judging this time indoors but still managed to get soaked! Great group of competitors, lovely to watch the improvements made by more regular guys and lots of new people there giving hoopers a try. Some of my students were there and reached their personal goals which makes me so proud. I set-up a handling focused tunnellers course and a faster touch-N-go course, both of which saw some great clear rounds and bonus points. To my horror Bolt not only continued his distance and drive ensuring I didn’t have to move much from the start line, but he got two great clears. I have now come to the conclusion I need to step up to his level and keep pushing forwards with him. Zoe once again had fun, lots of zoomies but one lovely clear round to finish the day.
What this month has taught me is that I have to see the opportunity in every set-back. Without the restrictions on my mobility I would not of discovered just how much Bolt has developed in hoopers. It just goes to show how important foundation skills are and how much they can drive us all forwards.
Hi. This is my first blog post and I just wanted to say a bit more about why I am so passionate about Pawfect Ability. I have been teaching people for a long time and love watching people understand sometime for the first time, that ‘lightbulb moment’. Nothing is more satisfying that someone achieving something that they thought was out of their reach. It was working with my lovely Zoe that showed me how amazing dogs are at helping us with so much in our lives. It took me months to train her to retrieve but that first one we did in a competition honestly made me cry, it wasn’t perfect but we had worked so hard to get to that point I wasn’t going to worry about a crooked sit. Now I look for that same sense of achievement in my students, the confidence to do an off lead recall, standing outside the circle of hoops, going to a first show right through to being part of a winning team in Tri-Score. These moments make us, and our dogs feel special.
I don’t train robotic dogs that are perfect, I train dogs that choose to work in a partnership with you. My dogs are far from perfect, they have issues, they chase and jump up, but we are working everyday towards a happier, calmer team. I also am far, far from perfect but I’m trying to learn something new every day. I want to work with positive people to improve the bond we have with our dogs. To promote hoopers and other training disciplines to bring smiles to handlers faces and have happy dogs. Yes we have to set boundaries for our dogs, we need manners and social etiquette to enable our dogs to face the world in a relaxed way. Training is always developing and changing, and so am I. This is what I feel makes me a good trainer, I won’t use a ‘one box fits all’ approach, I work with different people and different dogs and I train them all as individuals.