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It was without the fear and trepidation of last September that Mike, Minnie and I arrived at Stoke Mandeville Stadium.

We had again booked the extra night, so we could get a good start on the Saturday morning.

The Olympic Lodge was new and staff helpful, the room itself was airless and hot even with the window as wide as possible and no heating. No fridge for medications was a surprise, the beds were soft (too soft) and had no grab bars at all.

The TV was okay, but no wi-fi in the rooms and even with staff helping could not make the wire connection work.

The en-suite was much appreciated, and was spacious. It looked like much more thought had gone in to that room than the bedroom.

The lift PING was loud, and we know people at the furthest ends were disturbed by the sound, Min woke up at every one for the first few hours, finally she adjusted.

Breakfast was in the cafe, not exciting but good and plenty of it and good coffee.

We started to gather in the main sports hall at 9:30, with some new faces but many were those we had met before.

The hall was huge and so we were broken into small groups to work on different aspects, and sent to different corners. One group was Sera on her own, she was much quieter than last September but still has a way to go at ignoring other dogs.

We started with Patty and covering the basic sit, stand, down and the stages of learning. I was pretty confident that Min could do a sit anywhere as we had taken her to so many different venues. However she refused, maybe she was just distracted by all going on around her but was a lesson learnt.

The four stages: Acquisition, Fluency, Generalisation and Maintenance.

We then stopped for coffee, and Mike left for football.

We were working with a lovely couple and their dog Teddy, a second trainee for them as their original dog needed to retire. They made me feel very comfortable within the group.

It was Midge next and picking up and give. I did not make the mistake of over stating Minnie's abilities but she soared over my expectations. She is so clever.

Midge and I talked through the post collecting task and discussed how we could make it work. Stupid but I never thought of keeping junk mail so we could practise more then once a day ! We also discussed the picking up of keys from a table, and the stages to advance through.

We were given a hand out with the following "6 of the best, push ahead, 4 out of 6 stick and fix, anything less drop and refresh" which is by Jean Donaldson's book Push, Drop or Stick train your dog like a pro. Think I might add that to my collection.

By then it was lunch, Min and I went for a little walk and then to the room so I could take some medication. Minnie walked into the room and checked Mike's bed, sniffed round in front of the shelves and then checked the bathroom. Obviously satisfied that Mike was nowhere close she turned and jumped onto my bed.

She has never been allowed or even asked if she could share the bed at home, she would be allowed on holiday but has never shown any inclination. She did share my bed at the previous weekend workshop, and she would have been allowed, indeed I tried to get her onto the bed the Friday night to stop her woofing at the PING.

I sat with my feet up on the bed and she snuggled up, 40 minutes later we had missed lunch, so we grabbed some crisps and then headed back to the sports hall.

Next we were with Kirsten and leave was the command in question. Now Kirsten knows Min can do this but as before this was a new place. However my darling girl did me proud, again, as usual.

She just knows it isn't worth it, and that the reward is greater. She passed each phase as the task was made harder and harder, in the end Kirsten asked me did I want to take it up even harder for her, I said yes.

So she took her away from where we were sat and placed frankfurter pieces on the floor and on a lose lead asked her to chose to go past the huge treat on offer, and she did. The reward was great for her, as she adores Kirsten anyway and it was love and play with her, as well as a piece of something yummy. However had the task became, Min chose the correct option. Proud Mummy moment.

We had a short break then and most of us took the dogs out to a small piece of grass where we could get some fresh air. Teddy's owners asked me if I would walk with them, as their boy Teddy wasn't great at walking with other dogs alongside the chair and they wanted a steady dog to practise with !

Well I laughed so hard that I cried, Min the steady dog of choice. I told Midge and she laughed too, everybody who had seen Min last September could not believe the change.

So we did a walk for 10 mins or so and both dogs did really well.

Our final session for the day was lead manners, going through doorways and figures of 8 turning into and away from the dog. Obviously much more important to learn in a chair but really useful tools. We were watched doing it our way first, then given basic tools and before long Eryl, the lovely Welsh trainer, had worked out that Min and I already had a left/right command but I didn't use them correctly and they were unexpected, as in words I used for other situations but actually did the job.

Once we started using the right words, we had a blast.
From the start one of Minnie's long term goals has been to learn to protect my back, for example in a supermarket she would stop a trolley coming up and bashing me in the back. So were have been doing play with throwing treats, toys over my shoulder so she learns that good things happen behind me, as well as in front.

I have also taught her to walk to heel but behind me, and the command is hind, however that command pulls her back out of my way when going through a narrow door or a left turn, simples !

Again Eryl took Minnie for a playtime doing the hind command all over the place and they just had so much fun.

It was a great day but HIND was a revelation in the life of Min and me.

It wasn't long before Min and I slept, although I managed to be awake for almost all the Grand National where I got 2nd and 5th !

Mike didn't get back till almost half 7, so missed dinner. However I had some humus and veg sticks for both of us. Mike wasn't much in need of food, he had gone for a MaccieD's drive thru and paid the princely sum of £2.08 for a cheeseburger and fries. He didn't look in the bag till parked where he discovered a big mac, 2 cheeseburgers, and 3 bags of fries.

We took Min for a good stretch, unfortunately nowhere great for off lead running but found her some space. She was so tired that she didn't need much.

With Min on my bed, we all relaxed and dozed the evening away. We saw a bit of Shrek 2, the end of 2 weeks notice and a little of There's something about Mary.

Breakfast, packing and then into the main hall for Day 2.

This was something different, Rally O. 2 different courses, one a traditional elements course (or so we were told) and one made up of things we had been working on the day before, and basic tasks.

We split into the two groups and had a go. I was anxious and we were doing the task one first, but we had such a good time. Min loved it and so did I. I do so wish we had filmed that one, especially when we went and had another go and were even better. However we did get a clip of course 2 and we had a couple of goes at that one as well.

The whole idea just refreshed my training thoughts with Min, how we could change it up and make it so much more interesting for her and me. I cannot tell you how happy she was even though she was working she was so intent on me and what I was asking her to do, was very special.

LUNCH, nothing exciting but was so tired I just wanted the coffee really. Pictures, and a review of the weekend and off for home.

Shattered but very happy and finally confident that Minnie and I would do this, and complete it. Boosted by the happy news that Kirsten's other client, Martine passed her level 3 exam and was now fully qualified.


Premium Member
17,440 Posts
Fantastic! Well done you and Min, it all sounds exciting and exhausting!!!

Premium Member
3,185 Posts
WOW!!!! What a good Weekend, "Knakered" but HAPPY!!! :D

I did send some <<You can do it Vibes>> to the "Four M's":wink:
(Mandy, Minnie, Mike and Molineux :lol: )

Chel and Dilys xxx
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