Trading in Wellies for Trainers!

by Rachel Taunton // June 2017

Trading in Wellies for Trainers!

The transition from kennels to coaching was something of a mixed bag of anxiety and excitement for Charlotte and me. We’ve both been in our Canine Carer roles for a number of years and prior to this, I worked in another canine rescue centre. By moving over to Dog School, we were leaving something we were comfortable and happy doing and jumping with both feet into the unknown. The kind of relationship you build while working with a rescue dog is unlike any other, especially when you spend so much time helping them to overcome the various behavioural issues we see in the kennel environment. It is a fast-paced and sometimes stressful job, but it's also so rewarding to see one of your favourite dogs going off to their forever home.

Luckily, on occasion, they are rehomed relatively locally, like Lola - a little black bull-lurcher we both worked with.

Lola. How could anyone not fall absolutely head over heels with this monkey?

Lola was one of our long term dogs who had lived in kennels for much of her life. While she was with Dogs Trust, the highlight of her week was a visit from her favourite volunteer, Kathy. She was wary of dogs and strangers; a sensitive little girl but so full of love once she got to know you. Potential owners rarely stuck with her long enough to see that side of her and to learn what a lovely companion she could make. After a lot of puppy dog eyes (from both Lola and her ever grateful carers), Kathy took Lola home, and since Kathy still comes in to volunteer at the centre, we’re able to steal visits from time to time. We are overjoyed to see a dog who struggled with kennel life doing so well in a home. She is very much settled in now, and happy in her new home; She has even welcomed another dog who was also in need of a good home to share her space!

Nothing could match that feeling, right? Well… going into coaching meant leaving these special relationships behind, but, after a week of running classes we’ve found that a profound sense of fulfillment isn’t going to be lacking in this role either. In Dogs Trust, we worked with dogs who were often given up after developing behavioural patterns that owners were unable to cope with. In Dog School, we are working at the forefront of prevention and education in a bid to keep as many dogs as possible out of kennels. We’re helping to teach owners how to utilise positive training methods and to tackle potential issues before they are allowed to develop.

During our first week, we attended our first Doggy Olympics – the last session of the course that involves playing games to show off everything the dogs and their owners have learned. It was brilliant. We saw proud owners and attentive, happy puppies! There is nothing like witnessing that light bulb moment when an owner starts to understand what their dog is telling them, developing a closer bond with them as a result.

We are expanding our communication skills daily and working with a variety of people who learn in different ways, but all of them love their dogs and come to us because they want the best for them. The public come to us in order to better understand the dogs they love and share their homes with and we get to send them home feeling more confident in their partnerships.

Charlotte (left) and I (right) with Geesa, another one of our faves, pre-purple

The colour of our uniforms might have changed, but ultimately our goals have remained focused on helping to improve dogs' lives and on educating the public on what they can do to contribute to this with their own fur children. We can’t wait to help educate owners and learn some new skills ourselves along the way!