My name is Jenny Thomson and for the last 30 years I’ve been involved within the dog training field. I grew up in York and since the age of five, there was always a dog in the family. First a mad boxer called ‘Patch’ who slobbered everywhere and dragged deck chairs down the beach. Then came a black Labrador called ‘Rajah’, named after a prince and acted like one himself. He was big and friendly and loved to chase balls.
In early 1983 my husband and I were given our first dog Sally. She was a long coated 1 year old German Shepherd who, we were told was going to be destroyed if a home could not be found. My husband and I felt sorry for her and she came to stop for the next 12 years. Sally had a lot of problems, destroyed many things and even ate our wedding cake!
Today I’m able to understand why she did what she did and would be able to put in place a programme to overcome her problems. But in Sally’s time there was only the basic dog obedience training clubs around. I joined one such club and started on the journey of understanding the dog, its behaviour, what made her tick and above all how to have enjoyment and fun with her. Within eight months a puppy joined the household; she was also a German Shepherd and was called ‘Rambo’. Rambo turned out to be a true tomboy and into everything, she took two years to housetrain and chewed everything in sight.
Sally took to training like a duck to water and soon was doing local Obedience Competitions, Agility and Working Trials. She assisted me on doing talks to primary schools, and as a ‘pat’ dog in homes for the disabled. As my success with Sally grew as did my knowledge about dogs I was invited to become an instructor at my local club. I learnt a lot from my senior instructor as I did from the dogs and handlers that came into the club. No one dog is the same and with the handlers having to learn and communicate with their dogs provided me with a challenge and my experience in dog training grew. I went on to do courses with the British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers and when qualifying for my First Grade decided it was time to open my own club. So Padders was born.
Padders – The early years
The Club ran for 7 years in York, doing puppy training, socialising, obedience and agility. It grew from strength to strength, all referrals came from word of mouth and due to demand I started doing home visits. In this time my experience and knowledge grew, I went on many courses covering behaviour and training. I then took on another German Shepherd named Dan who was a year old and then came Amy. Dan died at an early age and Amy grew into a lovely character. She became my stooge dog for many years and taught many an unruly puppy how to behave. Having a litter herself we kept one large long coated dog and named him ‘Jack’, who grew to be known as a gentle giant of a dog.
Having to move due to my husband’s work the club in York folded shortly after, people said it didn’t have the same atmosphere as when I was there and without the commitment and passion trainers should have for dogs any club would fold in time.
Padders in Cheshire
Padders started in Cheshire in January 2006 and quickly gained a good reputation with nearly all members coming from referrals (local vet practices and satisfied customers) All of my previous dogs Amy, Jack and Dolly all German Shepherd’s passed away after happy lives leaving me with one dog, something that was strange at first because I’d always had more than just one dog in the house. Ten years on and Padders is still running, you will rarely see any adverts in local magazines and newspapers as all my clients are still by word of mouth. Working with the rescue society’s at home and abroad, schools, local housing authorities and many outlets in the dog field I was soon recognised by the British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers for my outstanding work and it was a great surprise that they awarded me the honour of full membership of the Institute!
Over the years I have learnt that all dogs are different and what method works with one may not with another. You need to have the knowledge and experience that can only be gained from many years of “hands on” practical experience to be able to deal with all the different behavioural challenges presented by the dogs and their handlers. Finally you need the confidence of the handler; a key step in achieving this is an understanding of their ability, what they want to achieve and why.
Once you have this you can set in place a training plan for both the four legged and two legged pupil and achieve what for some may seem an impossible task! The reward and satisfaction can been seen in the dog, handler and the trainer!
Our Canine Companions
Around ten years ago a terrier about a year old was thrown from a van window and ended up with me for a couple of days because all the local kennels, and rescue centres were full. He was an instant hit with the family and was named Ted. He is a true character and after a short time gained the nickname of “Ted the terrorist” from my husband due to his dominance and unruly behaviour, today he is always at Padders keeping an eye on what’s happening. Originally suffering badly with Separation Anxiety and aggression towards other dogs he now runs freely with other dogs and helps in the rehabilitation of other aggressive dogs. He still has a chip on his shoulder and like many other terriers and loves to bark to get the attention of the other handlers in the hope of getting their titbits!
Over the years he has gone with me into Schools, Scout Groups and clubs, including the WI (Women’s Institute) where I give talks about understanding our canine friends. He has been my son’s rugby team’s mascot, and tee carrier, even having a specially made shirt. In 2011 he had his acting debut on the BBC’s Crimewatch programme. More recently and probably his greatest achievement, is in helping two children come to terms with their uncontrollable fear of dogs to the point that they now can’t wait for him to visit and play with him. Not a bad achievement for an aggressive dog that no one wanted?
The last to join our family pack is Winston, a three old German Shepard, he came to us about a few year ago and like any male needs careful handling. He is getting there and enjoys the interaction with the dogs that come to board and was a real friends with Glen a rescue greyhound who after a lot of work I managed to rehome him. Glen is now settled in well with his new family and they still report back to me about him. Glen was not the first Greyhound for me to rehabilitate and they all came from the local rescues that found that although these dogs were special they had too greater problems for their fosterer’s to cope with!
Boarding dogs is now part of my week, I love to be surrounded by dogs so it is no hardship. May be in the future I may start Padders Dog Rescue Society, you never know watch this space!