Oh my word, where do I start? It was not until I was drafting this that I realised how much I have achieved in the world of dogs so far; the places my dogs have taken me to and the people I have had the privilege to meet and work with, including my husband! So I will give it a go because this bit is important, purely so that you can see that I am a Dog Mom and trainer, of over 40 years, with a huge knowledge in many other areas; knowledge and expertise that you will benefit and can take advantage of with your dog too.
As a Dog Mom - My name is Gina and I am the owner and writer of DogsandBlogs.com. That's me in the photo to your right, with my youngster at Crufts 2020. I have owned and trained dogs for over 40 years and probably started out just like you, from buying a puppy that needed training. Little did I know that my first little puppy would lead me on a journey that would shape the rest of my life.
From my local training club I made many life-long friends and even met my husband. We initially worked our dogs in Competition Obedience and qualified to work Ticket (the highest level in the sport). In the mid 1990's a new dog sport evolved in the UK called Heelwork to Music (HTM). I was instantly attracted because it combined my love of dogs with my love of music. As the sport grew into how we see it today I climbed the classes with my dogs, winning the Crufts HTM class in 2007 with my dog Tapper, and I am still the only person in the UK to have qualified a German Spitz to work the Advanced HTM Class. That little dog was a rescue called Bailey and he latterly formed part of the first HTM & Freestyle TeamGB to represent Great Britain in Denmark 2010. I was also Team Captain - a huge honour and privilage.
Our household consists of dogs I have raised from tiny puppies to rescue dogs with horrific histories that any animal should not have to endure.
Qualifcations and Work - Within 2 years of joining my local dog training club back in the '80's I was asked to become a trainer and passed several levels of the British Institute of Professional Trainers qualifications. This qualification helped towards me becoming a Dog Warden for Rushmoor Borough Council for 18 months, and then moving to work for Guildford Borough Council as their first ever Dog Warden. I loved the job and being the first in this post was encouraged to form it in any way I wanted. I decided education was the best way forward, only taking prosecutions if really necessary. It worked and the stray dog population dropped very quickly leaving me time to work with dog owners on neutering and training schemes. It was here that I also became the secretary of the newly formed National Dog Warden Association, uniting dog and animal wardens all over the UK.
I started up my own dog training clubs and guest instruct for others. In 2012 I became the second person in the UK to become a Heelwork To Music Kennel Club Accredited Instructor with distinctions; as well as also becoming accredited in Companion Dog with distinctions and Competition Obedience. This was a huge achievement. It was a lot of hard work but well worth it. Did you know dog trainers, instructors and behaviourists in the UK do not have to legally hold any qualifications or formal knowledge in the subject you are paying for and entrusting your dog and family to? For me, proving I am a trust-worthy and competetent trainer is important and the Kennel Club do not accredit just any one, so I do wear my gold members badge with pride, and quite rightly so.
Television - Over the years I have been lucky enough to be involved with tv work. It started helping a friend handle dogs in tv programmes such as Eastenders and Grange Hill. My dog dancing club were asked to appear on Lord Alan Sugars show "The Apprentice" in 2006 where we gave feedback on a piece of dog equipment the two teams were supposed to be manufacturing. In 2007 Tapper and I performed on the "Under Dog Show" to An't That a Kick in the Head by Dean Martin and the following year I was asked to be an Instructor on the same show to two celebrities. I was also an instructor on the Richard & Judy show and we also performed on The British Animal Awards in 2013, hosted by Paul O'Grady, which was great fun. You can see to your right the YouTube video. In 2018 Inside Out South followed two of my clients on their journey to Crufts.
National and International Dog Trainer and Judge - I can not believe how fortunate I have been to be invited to teach and judge abroad. It is such a privilage and honour to be asked and I have met so many fabulous people who all share my love of dogs. Places I have been fortunate to visit have been Canada, Norway and Denmark and being asked to Judge at Crufts twice has been pretty amazing too.
The Future - My dogs have bought such enrichment to my life; the places I have been to and the people I have met has far exceeded any expectations. Who would have known that when I persuaded my parents to by me a puppy for my 16th birthday that she would be setting me on a path that would affect the rest of my life. Who knows what the future holds for me and my dogs but I know its going to be fun, exciting and rewarding because with a dog beside you it can't be anything else.
Hugs to you and your dogs