by Raewyn Saville

It is with a heavy heart that I type those above words. Linda was a very close friend of mine. We were always pleased to be able to help each other and be there for each other, although the ledger was rather in my favor as she seemed to need to bail me out far more often than the other way.

If you have a friend you are close with cherish it and hope you never receive a txt such as I received on Saturday morning the 4th of November. I flicked my phone on at 8.15 and saw there was a txt from Linda. Great I thought she is telling me she is in good shape and coming home soon. In disbelief I read the following: β€œ7.20a.m. Hi Raewyn Paul here terrible news I'm afraid. Mum died early this morning. You are on Mum's list of people to tell so that should tell you how much she thought of you.......”

So hard to comprehend. However, I don't envy son Paul. That list of who to contact would have been very long as Linda loved and was loved by everyone who knew her.

Linda came to Dog Sports to bring Labradoodle Minnie for training. After the death of their previous Labrador, there were not going to be any more dogs. Family members didn't think Mum and Dad's place would be the same if they didn't have a dog, so their brought Minnie as a present. At the time Linda thought it would be great as Labradoodles are small to medium sized dogs, but she grew and grew. It became obvious to Linda and I that she was a Standard Poodlex Chocolate Labrador and therefore gonna be a big dog. As a somewhat batty ball loving gentle giant Minnie bonded with Linda through their love of long beach walks at Ohope and coming to training at Dog Sports plus endless ball retrieves.

A few months back Linda sought medical help for chest issues and was diagnosed with a heart condition and medicated for her symptoms although there seemed to be some confusion as to exactly what her heart was actually doing and what might be wrong with it. It was decided by the Specialists after much testing that there was a necessity for surgery. She waited quite some time for an admission to Waikato Hospital. Although we all knew she was not herself, none of us thought she would not pull through and be back with us as soon as possible.

At our Meeting to organise the Fly Tournament for December held on the same day Linda died we had her txt apology to Debbie that she would miss the meeting but hoped to be able to come and watch the Tournament as her recovery progressed. Linda had been a hard working volunteer at the last six or seven Tournaments.

To Bill Minnie and family everyone at our Club is beyond belief that Linda is no longer with us. She called Dog Sports her refuge and we had shared her happy and sad times over the last few years. Farewell Linda, the Club will never be the same without you.


By Raewyn Saville

Your dog needs a leader and you also need a leader! When you get your new puppy it is so great. A warm sweet smelling cuddly thing who absolutely has to trust you. You need to try really hard over those first weeks not to give the puppy any reason to doubt that he can trust you. You need to try to avoid things that hurt him. He needs to be kept warm and learn to sleep in his own safe enclosed bed space. He needs to know where his food is coming from. Preferably your hand. He needs to transfer all the trust that he had in his Mama Dog and siblings over to you. By 14 weeks this has been achieved (or not). It is very hard to go back and start over if things have gone badly wrong during this period. That is often what happens with rescue pups. But I believe if you relegate your rescue puppy or dog who is any age over 14 weeks, to a new puppy status and do all the new puppy things with it, although it will take longer to gain his trust - you can remold the dog's behavior to be more trusting and less of a decision maker.

From 15 16 weeks on the puppy starts to make decisions about when it will bark, when it will run away when it will chew its bedding when it will play etc. This is the time when you need to be enforcing some control rules. If you can do nothing else, keep the puppy crated a lot. Put it in a crate big enough for a pee pad in one end and a bed in the other. Be prepared to clean up when accidents happen and try to get the puppy out to the toilet area every two hours. The worst thing that happens at this age is the puppy gets too much freedom and doesn't know what to do with it. There is no need for any walking on lead before 20 weeks. All sorts of things come into play over this period but the main one is the dog learning that you are in control of A Food supply, and B. Freedom.

When our puppy is out of its crate it should be interacting with us one on one. That means appropriate games such as 'flick' and 'chase'. That means I am teaching the pup the word 'toilet'. That means I have a light rope on his collar so that I can make corrections without screaming 'No' and hitting him with a newspaper which as far as I am concerned is scraping the bottom of the barrel of discipline, and does not work. I want the pup to learn to follow me, plus 'go look' and learn to hunt things. During this 15 to 24 week period the pup can learn lots of words. Every time the puppy sits down when he is with me, I say 'sit good boy' and treat. When he lies down same when he stands same when he comes naturally, 'Come come come' and treat. Every piece of behavior he gives me that I want I attach a word to and treat. After a couple of weeks, I can reverse the thing. When I say sit he sits etc.

During this three month to six month period a very important piece of information is often missing from the handler's curriculum. FIRST GREETING. Under no circumstances must my puppy learn to be a first greeter. What is that? He must not learn to approach people and other animals ahead of me. It is the first step towards aggression and forward action towards prey drive. i.e. chasing sheep, chickens etc. This is the behavior that is the most easily fixed while he is a puppy and the hardest to fix in a rescue dog

I have a whole range of exercises to avoid first greeting, but the best one is the 'tie up'. Don't let your dog first greet anything. Come and work with me on this. During this whole first year of my puppy the things I want to establish are a healthy well formed dog of appropriate weight. A dog who knows how to listen and who has some basic commands absolutely nailed. During this time I am the leader of my new dog. My new dog does not know what being the leader is. He trusts me and I know that he will obey me.

As I enter my second year I have probably well started to do some flat agility equipment or started on his hunting sport work or his sheep work. Now I have to teach him to be a leader when I tell him he can be. The leadership qualities I want from my dog are all the things that I cannot do. In agility I want him to run fast ahead of me and complete the indicated equipment without me because I cannot possibly keep up with him. In hunting, I want him to use his nose on the wind or on the ground to find the prey we are wanting to hunt. My nose doesn't work like that so I need him to go and find those pigs and bail them and give voice to tell me he has it under control but hurry Ma because this pig is a biggie

I do not want to run up and down the hills chasing the sheep to a new paddock or bringing them in to dock lambs tails, I need my dog to be a leader and do that work. Unbelievably if you have done the early control and obedience stuff and the dog is pretty chilled and trusts you, its innate instincts and skills will come to the fore and it will positively automatically do the work it was bred to do. Usually without much help or training from you. If you are struggling to get the dog to do a piece of work the problems are:
1. A lack of trust and obedience
2. The dog does not recognise the work you want it to do and is probably the wrong breed for the work; or
3. The dog has body discomfort or pain or just total mental confusion due to your inability to show him what the hell it is you want him to do. See '1'.

By the time my dog is approaching 36 months, 3 years of age, he is mature enough to start making good decisions on his own. This is when the partnership begins. Some dogs, and breeds are ahead of this but by and large from three years on the dog should be your equal partner. He trusts you and you trust him. There may be occasions during that year when he oversteps the mark and needs correction. There may also be times when you get it wrong and misinterpret his work or give him wrong commands, but this is the year to really put all the building blocks in place for a long and happy relationship with a mature dog who likes nothing better than to be with you, doing what you do and enjoying your company. You can just look at each other and know 'Game's On’ That is the exhilarating, rewarding and exciting part of working with your dog.

As that dog grows older and wiser and a new puppy comes along, you then have a training partner for your upcoming dog. My old dogs have been fantastic trainers of my pups over the years.

I hope you all get to the point where the dog you own and work and live with is the best behaved most wonderful companion you have ever known and knocks the socks off your relationships with other human beings. As the saying goes....... THE MORE I KNOW PEOPLE THE BETTER I LOVE DOGS... Enjoy