First of all, apologies for the delay in publishing the January DogBlog! The queues for this month’s issue were longer than the ones outside Apple Stores when they launch a new device… But I’m in the Seychelles and my Web Guy was in the sticks with no internet access so we had to take a deep breath…….. and wait. Here it is now, still your January DogBlog, albeit in February. Who’s checking?
This month we’re talking rescue, training, positive encouragement, charitable work. I’m sure many of you have a lot to say about all of these issues so your views will be greatly appreciated! Please send your thoughts over and we’ll make sure they’ll be heard. Photos and videos of your training and tricks are always welcome. For now, here’s something from the pros.
Kennington K9s – SE11
Dogs! All I wanted as a child was a dog, I watched every programme on telly with a dog in it, drew pictures of dogs, walked other people’s dogs. On a trip to Battersea Park when I was about 6 I told everyone that when I grew up I was going to work at Battersea Dogs Home!
And I did! I have been lucky enough to spend almost my entire career working with dogs (cats, horses, ferrets, poultry and farm animals too!), I started as a volunteer at CHAT (Celia Hammond Animal Trust) before moving to Battersea Dogs Home as a ‘Kennel Maid’ – I’m showing my age now, this role is now a Canine Carer which I think is far better. I’ve spent the majority of my working life working in rescue, it isn’t an easy industry to get into and even more difficult to progress in. It’s definitely not for the faint-hearted and you can’t be in it for the money.
I finally got my own dog at 20 and despite thinking I was fairly knowledgeable I made huge mistakes, in hindsight a German Shepherd Dog puppy may not have been the ideal choice for a first dog. Murphy was not an easy dog, he presented me with so many problems, from MAJOR destructive behaviour to reactivity and aggression around resources. I really wanted to make his life (and mine) easier, so I started learning. I read books, went to training classes and started going to seminars and conferences but lots of the advice and techniques made me feel uncomfortable. I did not want to ignore or punish my dog, I wanted to understand him and help him feel better about his world. I stumbled upon John Bradshaw’s ‘In Defence of Dogs’ this book was an absolute game changer for me, it’s a book I think every dog owner should read, it helped me understand my dog and also helped me to focus my learning.
Fast forward a couple of years and l am now the proud owner of 4 dogs with more challenges and tricky behaviours. Working in rescue meant I tended to take home the ‘difficult’ ones – more research, more learning, more seminars.
I was really lucky to land a job at Dogs Trust as a training and behaviour advisor in a centre with nearly 200 dogs! An absolute baptism of fire, I was now responsible for the welfare, training, management and rehoming for so many dogs. I learned lots FAST and was given an incredible opportunity to continue learning. Dogs Trust sent me to Bristol University to study animal welfare and behaviour, I now had the science to back up my practical skills and a greater level of understanding. I worked for Dogs Trust for 8 years where my education and development was continually built on, I am enormously grateful for every opportunity.
Working in rescue is amazing – it’s a rollercoaster, there are so many highs! There really is no feeling like seeing a terrified dog finally wag her tail when she sees you or the ‘tricky’ dog you’ve worked with for a year settle happily into his new home. But…. there are also the lows and some of them are very low. I won’t go into details but some of the things I have seen are truly heartbreaking, even after 20 years I never got used to it, I still questioned how and why people could behave in that way. You really do see the best and worst of people and I really have met some of the best from my colleagues and friends to those amazing people who come to adopt the old dogs, the broken and damaged dogs, the terminally ill dogs, the dogs who have spent years in kennels – those people are the ones who make it worthwhile, the ones who restore faith in humanity. I am still in touch with people who adopted dogs I’d worked with years ago, I get updates and photos and invitations to ‘Gotcha Day’ parties!
I have decided that rescue isn’t for me anymore, but I still want to be around dogs! So Kennington K9s was born.
I hope to be able to work locally not just walking dogs but offering training and behavioural consultations. Quite often with problem behaviours we are bombarded with advice from every angle and there is so much out there and it’s all so different! There are so many different trainers and philosophies out there that it can be very confusing, I try to avoid labels with dogs as well as people so I would just say that I am positive – I use positive reward-based techniques, my objective is to do no harm. I think this is particularly important at the moment as while the majority of trainers and behaviourists out there try to remain as purely positive as they can, a programme on TV (which is causing a huge stir in the training world) is still showcasing very outdated and unnecessary methods – this makes me so very sad for the dogs and owners involved.
My biggest motivation and passion is to try and help people understand their dogs a little better, our dogs are communicating with us all the time and we often miss the finer points – dogs are far better at reading us than we are them! I could go on for hours about just how incredible dogs are, how they enrich and enhance our lives without us even noticing. I feel that we owe it to dogs to learn more about them! I now have Portia, a very spicy 10 month old GSD from Dogs Trust, she was abandoned at a vets’ surgery at 10 weeks after she ate rat poison, I went to collect her and the rest…. Well….. She never quite made it into kennels. I marvel at her every day just for being herself, she has made the transition from living in very rural Norfolk to not rural at all South London with such ease that I am a little envious! She is now a fully paid up ‘London Dog’ and living her best life……. if you see us out come and say hi, Portia doesn’t understand people who walk past without smiling at her!
Kennington K9s – Naomi Dunleavy
Dog Training, Behavioural Consultations and Dog Walking
Ph: 07508 090 445
26 Vauxhall St SE11 5LG
With a love for animals all my life, I started volunteering for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home 5 years ago. Training in the kennels, then walking the dogs offsite and working with the foster division interviewing potential carers for long and short term care for dogs that don’t cope well in the kennels.
Whilst at Battersea, I started my City and Guilds course at Writtle Animal University in Essex for Dog Grooming which brought me to work under other groomers in Essex and London improving my skills along the way. I was lucky to train with groomers with 20 years’ experience, their knowledge was incredible and inspiring.
Now, I’ve been given the opportunity to take on my own shop in Vauxhall named after my girl Miss Darcy whom I adopted nearly 3 years ago. Offering full breed dog grooms, cat grooming, nails, tidy ups, DIY bath and blow. DIY is a great way for owners to bond with their dogs, they can use my equipment and facilities to clean up their pooch. I’m also trained in using the Emmipet dog teeth cleaning system. The system promotes healthy teeth and gums killing bacteria and can reduce tartar. I use an electric toothbrush which doesn’t vibrate or make noise so it’s a nicer experience for the dog. When you purchase a course of treatments your dog gets their own brush. I would like to turn the front space of the shop into a pet store and offer doggie daycare as there is quite a bit of space available.
This year, I am selling Pooch & Mutt treats and nature’s menu, I would like to sell doggie ice-cream fresh from the shop, hopefully people can pop by after their dog walks to grab an ice-cream for their pooch, let’s hope we have an amazing summer like 2018. I hope as a small independent business I can offer competitive prices and gain new clientele.
miss_darcys_dog_grooming on Instagram &
Miss Darcy’s Dog Grooming facebook page,
07799 507011 Julie
Hours are appointment only!