The wet weather has certainly curtailed many activities outdoors but just browsing through the ‘chances to learn’ column shows that there are plenty of opportunities to further one’s canine interests without getting wet. Education now plays a huge part in all of our dog sports and is essential to set a level playing field and make sure that everyone involved is ‘singing’ from the same hymn sheet. Later this year I am judging at a local open show and felt it my duty to make sure that the ‘requirements of a show judge’ have been fully digested. An ideal second opportunity arose on April 14 at Telford which coincided with a trip to Shropshire to judge an instructor’s course for the British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers (BIPDT). Dr Ruth Barbour was the accredited trainer for the seminar which was organised by the Wellington (Shropshire) Canine Society and my previous study and an excellent delivery by Ruth enabled me to pass and gain my certificate. Conformation and movement will be my next challenge. It really is strange going back to school but the challenge of learning something new is always a rewarding experience.
The BIPDT spring course that I had judged on April 12 and 13 was again held at the excellent facilities provided by the Harper Adams University College near Newport in Shropshire. I had stepped in to judge at short notice, having been asked at Crufts, but with the dates free in my diary I was delighted to accept. This course was slightly different in that there were only two judges, myself and Bill Bleeze, and therefore the opportunity to take photographs during the judging was not allowed so thanks to Evelyn Chapman for supplying some of the judging pics. My article this time is going to be from a course participant’s perspective. Sophie Mills gained her graduate pass when I was judging in 2009 but then subsequently failed her advanced. This therefore is her own story:
"I wrote a report in the KSS year book about my BIPDT week long residential instructor’s course in 2009 at Harper Adams Agricultural College. I was thrilled to achieve my graduate grade, with honours, and finished the article, saying it was time to start swatting for my advanced grade.
"Well, in 2011 I went back to have a go at my advanced in my chosen specialism of gundogs. The week went well but every time anyone mentioned the ‘A’ word (advanced) I felt my hands go all clammy and felt my stomach churn. I kept trying to keep my nerves under control all week but unfortunately they all came to the surface in my first practical teaching test on the Thursday afternoon and I made silly mistakes, which I was really annoyed at myself for. I knew then that it would take a miracle in my Friday practical to pass – which unfortunately didn’t happen.
"So, in April this year I returned to have another go – hopefully to pass, but if nothing else, to try to put my nightmares about the previous year’s mistakes to bed.
"We all arrived on the Sunday morning (a 6.30am start for me to get there on time) and after registering, quickly unpacking and sorting my dog (Nell) out, we all met in teams for lunch at 1pm. The teams were smaller this year (about five in a team), so the introductions didn’t take long! At 2pm we were all out on the field with our dogs, ready for demos from the instructors and then to go to our team rings to put things into practice. There were two of us taking our advanced grade (both in gundogs having passed our graduate on the same course), so it was good to catch up with a familiar face and have someone to bounce ideas off of.
"Those taking advanced were given various demos to do to the rest of the course, which is good practice for exam days especially as we only get about five minutes notice as to what we are expected to do. We are expected to know about all the disciplines on offer (agility, obedience, working trials and gundogs) and how exercises associated with these can be applicable to the pet dog owner. So no pressure!
"The days on the field are spent practising our teaching techniques with fellow students and their dogs as ‘stooges.’ The instructors come round to offer advice and ask us questions to get us thinking. Everyone pulls together to help and support each other, both on and off the field which produces not only a good feeling of team spirit, but this spreads among all the students. At tea break in the afternoon, there are discussion groups and in the evenings after dinner, there are lectures – so no chance to get bored! If you’ve got any energy left, it’s nice to wind down with a few drinks in the bar afterwards.
"It’s a tiring week, both mentally and physically, especially when doing the advanced grade, but really good fun! I always come away having learnt new things – as the saying goes ‘Every day is a school day!’
"Thursday afternoon we all meet the judges and are asked a few questions, just to break the ice really. The ‘grads’ and ‘ads’ had a project to complete before the course which is handed in on the first day, so we may get questions on that, among other things. Then for the advanced students, it’s a quick change to be out on the field for our first practical test session with one of our judges.
"My judge on the Thursday was Paul Rawlings, who did his best to put me at ease, but naturally, I was a bit nervous but at the same time was determined not to let nerves get the better of me this year! The instructors are great too, at supporting us and trying to relieve the nerves, not only just before our tests, but throughout the whole week. It’s all a bit of a blur now, so I can’t really remember what I had to teach, but the time went quickly!
"Friday is test day for everyone – if it’s not your turn to teach, then you ‘stooge’ for other people. I had another practical (thankfully before lunch!), this time with Bill Bleeze, which again is a blur but I do remember while stooging afterwards all the things I could’ve done better, said etc.
"We finished quite early, so after helping to clear the field, a small group of us took our dogs for a lovely walk in the woods up the road from the college. Then it was time to get dressed up for the presentation dinner, after which, the awards were announced. I wasn’t expecting to pass, as I kept thinking how I could’ve done things better. It was good to chat with fellow team mates and even better congratulating them on their achievements.
"Then I just remember hearing the words ‘...and we have just one more certificate left to award and it’s for an honours pass at the advanced grade for Sophie Mills.’
"Well, you could’ve knocked me down with a feather! After managing not to swear out loud, I just burst into tears with the shock of it all! (And a certain amount of pressure release!) Quite a few others had to wipe their eyes too (I’ll not mention any names to avoid embarrassment) which was touching and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the standing ovation! A great moment! (I hate to admit that I blubbed so much I had to tell everyone that I was happy, really!) Then I had to have my photo taken – great, with red eyes! Needless to say, a few drinks were enjoyed afterwards in the bar, leading to quite a late night and me walking Nell in my pjs!
"It was a great week and a big thank you to all those involved for giving up their time, all their hard work, their help, support and encouragement. I’ll be sad not to be going back as a student. It’s hard pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, but the sense of achievement afterwards, is unbeatable. Thank you to everyone who sent me kind words after Joy posted my success on Facebook (and after a little speech she made!) – it still hasn’t sunk in properly yet!”
Results of BIPDT spring course 2012
Bill Baird (Nuneaton) 2nd Hons (Team Co-ordinator).
John Rowland (Stockport) 1st Grade.
Claire North (Cleckheaton) 2nd Hons.
Jacquie Butlin (Jersey) 2nd Grade.
Anna Black (Ware) 2nd Grade.
Lyn Wilson (Enfield) 1st Grade (Team Co-ordinator).
Meghann Ashpool (Thurso) 1st Hons
Janet Jessop (Newton Abbot) 1st Grade
John Harding (Nuneaton) 1st Grade
Tess Halling (Bedford) 2nd Grade
Rob Morgan (Abingdon) 2nd Hons (Team Co-ordinator).
Michael Aina (Nigeria) 2nd Hons.
Chris Merritt (Dagenham) 2nd Grade.
Linda Griffiths (Flintshire) 2nd Grade.
Valerie Rowe (Stanwellmoor) Colin Plum Progress Award.
TEAM FOUR – Winners of the Team of the Week award.
Sam Ratchford (South Woodham) 2nd Hons (Team Co-ordinator).
Sophie Mills (Redhill) Advanced Hons.
Claire Morgan (Abingdon) 1st Grade.
Tristan Head (Ware) 1st Grade.
Fiona Stephens (Uckfield) 2nd Grade.
Julie West (Clayton) 2nd Grade.
A great achievement by Sophie and overall the standard of all the students was very high. I would extend a personal thank you to the BIPDT organising team of Barry Walters, Ann Fisher, Sharon Lake, Helen Withey, Phil Cook, Evelyn Chapman and Frank Waddell for inviting me to join them to judge this course. For further details of future courses contact: Course Administrator, The Old School House, Nash, Milton Keynes MK17 0ES. Phone 01908 507132 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your news or views please to Paul Rawlings KCAI (WGA) by email email@example.com.