Katy arrived as an 8-week old unknown quantity from Munlochy Rescue Centre. But as she grew and her legs stretched, it was certain she was going to be a runner. A beautiful temperament, loving, gentle, and intelligent, I had no problems training her until she was around eight months old.
It was June. The south side of Loch Ness where we live has the highest concentration of Sika deer in the country. It also abounds with hares, rabbits, roe and red deer, and sheep. Suddenly Katy started to take an interest in all these, initially by finding a young deer calf and getting very excited. After the scent had been ‘switched on’, there was no stopping her. People would say helpfully “Well, she’s got lurcher in her, what do you expect?”.
Every walk became a nightmare. Any time I let her off the lead she would immediately pick up a scent and be off like lightning. It would be minutes, then hours before she reappeared. She developed a Jeckle and Hyde character – at home she was lovely but away, all she wanted to do was chase. The perfect poacher’s dog, she would track a deer down, and keep it guarded, never once hurting it, until we found her. I became incredibly stressed -I felt irresponsible, worried about sheep, farmers, causing an accident on the road… With an ill mother and four children to cope with, I was at my wit’s end. If nothing could be done, she would have to go back to Munlochy.
Then I came across Mike. He quickly arranged an appointment and came out over the Christmas period. He was at once calm and reassuring – we could train her not to chase. All we needed was consistency and determination (plus love, of course, and Katy loved him straight away!). We immediately started following Mike’s special training techniques. And within weeks we were seeing a difference.
I can’t pretend it was easy. Katy is very hard-wired and clever. It took time and effort on her part, ours, and Mike’s. But Mike was always available and provided us with the right means to train her. We are now 18 months down the line.
It is June as I write. Every morning we see wildlife, but walking with Katy has become an absolute delight. We have such good communication between us that if she disturbs, say, a hare in the grass, she no longer chases it, but looks back at me as if to say “Cor, did you see that??” then leaves it be. Yes, there is the odd time when she forgets, but now I have the techniques to remind her that this is not acceptable behaviour. As she gets older I am sure these blips will disappear – she is still only young. And in order for her to get the good chase, which she loves, I cycle with her running by my side.
So, however, hard-wired your dog is to chasing, walks do not have to be stressful, dogs do not have to be lost for hours, you do not need to lose your head for worry or have to keep your dog permanently on a lead for fear of letting her go. Mike can provide a solution.
Katy is a wonderful, beautiful, and loving dog. She always was. But Mike has helped her to be obedient too, and to know the rules. We couldn’t have done it without him.