Today is a sad day.
Colin died last night, loved and adored by his wonderful owners. I am devastated, I loved Colin like he was my own.
Colin was the most special dog. He was the first dog, apart from my own, that I trained many years ago at the rescue where he was looked after. He patiently let me teach him while we learned together and he slowly grew in confidence.
So I thought I would share this story I wrote a couple of years ago about how I started out in what is the best job in the world as Colin was a huge part of it. He will be forever in my heart
RIP my darling xx
People sometimes ask me about why I do what I do and how I got started. So I thought I would tell you the story of how the Fairydogmother was born.
Billy was one of my first dogs. Born on valentines day 1996 he bounced into our lives at 8 weeks old: an adorable white English Bull Terrier puppy with one brindle ear and an attitude.
Billy was a ‘special’ dog; one of those naughty but nice dogs you can’t help but love because they make you laugh, but also drive you to distraction because of their behaviour.
Billy was a spinning/tail chasing, attention seeking nightmare who refused to let go of anything he was having fun with. Billy was never aggressive, he just loved to play tuggy.
Unfortunately Billy liked playing tuggy with everything he could get his teeth into – hosepipes still attached to the tap, branches still attached to trees. He destroyed my mum’s lawnmower when she left him unattended in her garden for a mere 30 minutes, he played tuggy with my sister’s curtains and once sank his teeth into a live electric cooker cable sticking out of the wall when we were renovating the kitchen. The only reason he survived that particular game of tug was lightening quick reflexes turning the power off!
Billy was a nightmare, but I loved him and wanted to help him and make our lives easier. Billy had lit the spark in my interest in dog behaviour, so I really got stuck into finding out how I could help change his behaviour and started doing Dog Behaviour courses in 2001.
Fast forward and I now had a new dog; Lola who was a two and a half year old rescue who had been abandoned in a flat to starve. She was absolutely wonderful, except for one thing; her obsession with footballs.
I discovered said football obsession when I decided to take her to my eldest son’s football match one very wet, muddy Saturday morning.
I walked up to the edge of the pitch with Lola on a lead and she spotted the football … and ran for it (she is a hefty American Bulldog x Staffy) and, taken by surprise and suddenly helpless on the other end of the lead she dragged me face down in the mud, slowly but surely trying to make progress towards the ball being kicked around the pitch. Watched by all the other parents I had to be unceremoniously rescued from the quagmire.
Lola’s sheer determination to get at footballs wasn’t getting any better and a friend of mine said to me that if I went to see Keith, a dog trainer who helped run a local rescue, he would be able to help. So I rang and booked an appointment and I went to see him … and that day changed everything.
Keith didn’t just help with Lola, he offered to teach me real hands on dog training working with dogs at the rescue. As long as I turned up regularly and got stuck in, that was the deal, and I was eager to start.
I loved it, it was my dream come true!
There I met Colin, a huge Mastiff type Cross who was scared of his own shadow. I adored Colin, he was gentle, worried and needed lots of reassurance but slowly his confidence built, and I loved every minute I spent helping Keith with his training. Often freezing cold, wet, and knee deep in mud and snow but I didn’t care, I turned up and carried on. Working with Keith and Colin taught me much more than the pages of the coursework I had done so far.
I recently found the diary I had kept about the work I was doing with Colin, Venice and Nico and the excitement and enthusiasm in the pages of the diary made me smile.
One day I was sat with Keith in the classroom discussing another dog we were working with and I plucked up the courage to ask Keith “How will I know when I am good enough to do it on my own”. Keith said, “You are good enough now Kerry”.
I will forever be grateful to Keith, Billy and Colin as without them my thirst for knowledge, my determination to be great at this and the absolute love for what I do would never have been ignited.
They lit the spark that will never diminish.
So, many years on, here I am still loving every minute with the same enthusiasm and love for my job as I found in the pages of my training diary from all those years ago.
My job is to help build relationships between people and their dogs, to help anxious and fearful dogs live happier, fear free lives and enrich their lives with their owners. It’s what I do.
Someone once asked me what I was most proud of (dog-wise) and I replied “every dog that didn’t end up in rescue because I helped them work their problems out”
I stand by that every day.
Since then I have continued to increase my knowledge, with many, many courses in dog behaviour.
I still go to all the seminars and conferences I can get to: I am a bit of a seminar junkie to be honest, and a bit of a dog geek, but I believe that you should never stop learning and updating your skills as new research is released all the time.
And it took one man and two dogs to start the fire.