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23 November 2012 ·

Animal Careers and Carers; Kathy Wyatt, obedience trainer

Kathy Wyatt is a trainer at the Community Dog Club in Mornington, VIctoria (Australia). I took my Harry there when he was newly adopted, as although I’ve had dogs all my life, I knew that a little dog who’d had three homes in his first year of life, and had been badly abused in the first, was going to need extra care and understanding. I was very impressed with what I learned, and would recommend it to anyone with a new dog, whether a puppy or a mature rescue dog.

(Harry and I are going back to the club tomorrow to talk about Rainbow Street Pets. I hope our behaviour reflects all we learned together!)

How would you describe the work of an obedience trainer (if that’s the correct term)? 

At a Community dog club, we don’t train the dogs, we train the owners how to manage their own dog.  
The aptly named Lucky, looking very happy in his new home
What was the path – or the passion(!) –  that led you to it?
I adopted a dog from the RSPCA, an adult dog that had not had any training.  I took him along to classes, we both learnt a lot, and then I became an instructor myself.

What is the best, and the worst thing about it? Or the strangest?
The best thing is when people take the classes seriously, practise at home, and the improvement is obvious in a short time. It is a bit frustrating when they don’t – they assume a weekly class will do the job, and it doesn’t. Dogs often do strange things – you can only laugh at them!

Photo copyright Tim Marchington 
Did you have pets as a child?
Yes – guinea pigs, budgies, cats, dogs at various times. 

Does your  present dog have a story?
The dog I have now I got as a puppy from a breeder.  The only eventful time was when he was very sick after chewing and swallowing bits of a toy – thanks to the vets at The Animal Emergency Centre, and Pet Insurance, he pulled through.
What would your pet tell us about you?

I’d like to know what he thinks – I suspect that between sleeps he only thinks about what the next food will be, or when the next walk will be.

If you were an animal, what would you be?

I wouldn’t mind being a pampered pooch!

Any advice for people wanting a pet?

Don’t get a puppy from a pet shop.  Be sure you are ready for the commitment, and choose the type, size and breed that fits in with your lifestyle. If you get a dog, get Pet Insurance.

Favourite animal books?

Recently I’ve enjoyed Spencer Quinn’s detective books written from the point of view of Chet the dog (“Dog on It” is the first in the series).

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Wendy Orr is a Canadian-born Australian writer. Her books for children and adults have been published in 27 countries and won awards around the world. Nim’s Island and Nim at Sea have also become feature films, starring Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin (Nim’s Island) and Bindi Irwin (Return to Nim’s Island.) Her latest book is Cuckoo’s Flight, a companion to the highly acclaimed Bronze Age novels Dragonfly Song and Swallow’s Dance. Read full bio