This is somewhat of a weird blog for me… a trip down memory lane!
I can remember vividly the first night I ever went dog training… This was now 30yrs ago! I know what you will all be thinking… how can Kamal Fernandez have been training dogs for 30yrs, when he is only 21!!!! I get it all the time 😉 I shall be 20 next year, so you guys do the math…
I was a mere child, literally and I had my first dog ‘Scrunch’, who due to my families naivety, and ignorance, had a plethora of standard behavioural issues that we needed ‘saving’ from. Resource guarding, separation anxiety, no recall, no loose lead walking, ‘stubborn’, disobedient (even though we hadn’t actually trained her….) and a lot more.
I had badgered may parents for years to get a dog, and my ideology of ‘Lassie’, Scrunch was most definitely not!
I stumbled into the prospect of actually training a dog, long before owning one, after watching agility at Crufts, and the former Kennel Club Junior Organisation. I watched a young ginger haired kid named ‘Greg’ win the KCJO with his cross breed, and thought to myself… ‘well, if he can do that, I can do that… how hard can it be….’
A seed was sown. One day I would be at Crufts. I knew it then, before I even attended a class or even had the dog!
I rang up the local Agility Club (which was ironically called ‘Barking Dog Training’… I
am sure the irony isn’t lost on my readers ;)) and was duly informed that I couldn’t attend until I had done a basic Obedience class, and my dog was over 1yr.
So begrudgingly, I contacted the local Obedience class….
I attended the Newham Dog Training at a local hall, and were met by the club Secretary…little did I realise how influential this lady would be!
The class and structure were standard for the time, there was no use of food or toys, but primarily compulsion and praise. The first night of training, Scrunch was subjected to a 45min class, combined of walking in a square around a hall, recalls, sit stays and down stays… all ‘taught’ as we went along, with her newly fitted check chain…. I look back now, and shudder but at the time, this was standard practice. Years later I would actually start my own classes at the exact same hall, with somewhat modified methods 🙂
We muddled through and I fell more in love with the process of dog training. I would stay and watch the training after. The first person I ever saw train ‘Obedience’ was a lady with a beehive haircut, that would repel a drop of rain, on sight alone. She had a mixture of border collies and German shepherds, and I watched in awe as they walked glued to hear side, looking intently up at her, and how she would leave her German Shepherd, Samba on the stage at the top of the hall, and give him a series of cues, as if controlled by remote or magic! I was mesmerised and in awe!! Her tri coloured border collies would execute everything she asked with speed and drive, they were bursting with enthusiasm and desire….
I remember asking a million questions, a trait that I became well known for, about what, why, when, how…. I was hungry to learn!
Joan’s dogs were the first ‘trained’ dogs that I ever ‘handled’. I was ‘allowed’ to train them, and knew one day I would have a dog that did what they could.
My parents used to travel to the class, and initially sit and wait patiently whilst I trained. However, with my interest growing and theirs depleting, they progressed to dropping me off and picking me up…. Which grew into me getting a lift with Eileen in her camper van…. Every Wednesday night, without fail, I would attend the class absolutely obsessed with this strange and unique world.
I handled other peoples dogs, and my interest and passion were abundantly clear.
Eileen saw my enthusiasm and hunger, and suggested I come to a ‘dog show’ with her…. I can still recall the excitement and anticipation… it was like waiting for Christmas! I was in heaven! Dogs everywhere! I soon extended my infinite amount of questions and handling other peoples dogs, to numerous dogs at shows! I must have been one of the few people that had worked all classes in obedience, before having my own dog to train! In this time, I was doing the very thing, I advise any up and coming dog trainer to do… get your hands on dogs! As many as you can… There is no other way to develop feel, and skills without getting your hands ‘dirty’. I would work and handle any dog that I was given, and I was developing my skill set and ability to read and adjust to the dog I was training. Little did I know, how well this would serve me in the future. All I knew is that I had found my ‘passion’ and was set to follow it!
I continued on this tactic of borrowing, handling and training other people’s dogs until I was able to get my ‘first proper’ obedience dog…. Tai entered my life, as though fated for me and he took me on a journey and ride, that I was honoured to have had. I shall save his story for another day…
The one thing I will say, is he fulfilled that dream of getting to Crufts that I had in my mind, from first ever seeing
But little did I envisage how ‘big and grand’ my journey would be as a result of taking Scrunch to that hall, all those years ago. Who knew it would lead me down this path!
I have been able to help countless others achieve their dreams, in not just obedience, but many other entities. I have helped train dogs to fly planes, and spoken at conferences across the world. I have written books, and trained dogs for TV and film, even making appearances myself with ‘spider dogs’ and ‘flying dogs’, unruly pets and ‘Underdogs’…. I have competed at Crufts, judged at Crufts, helped teams from across the globe compete at Crufts, my students have competed at Crufts, winning and achieving their dreams… I have helped people on the brink of despair, turned their nightmare canines into perfect pooches, and helped dogs on death row become model citizens.
I have trained thousands of dogs, every shape, size, colour, issue and problem you can think of, yet no two the same, and I know there is plenty more to come!
I have travelled the world, and continue to follow my passion.. and after 30yrs, I still feel the same passion and joy when I am training and working with a dog.
I am entirely grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given, and the eternal blessing of living a life where I follow my passion.
‘Find a job you’ll love, and you’ll never work a day in your life again’…
This is a thank you to all those that have been part of my journey, past and present, 2 and 4 legged…. and for all those to come. Here’s to another 30yrs of following my passion, and where it will take me…
2 Replies to “Not ‘working’ for a living!”
Oh god I remember you back then, you could say how any particular dog was bred just by someone pointing the dog out.
I’d have loved to do what you’ve done/doing but I had to work a proper job!!??!!. Now I’m too bloody old but still love to be around dogs/my dogs.
Carry on enjoying your work.
Sadly, I think many modern trainers talk the talk, hot on the theory and terminology without actually getting the hands dirty. Dishing out well rehearsed recipes without ever experiencing the individuality that can exist even within same breed litters mates.