How I Became a Dog Trainer
Someone asked me to write a blog post on how I got interested in dogs and how my dog training career started. The short answer is – I don’t know. I’m born this way, probably. We didn’t have a dog in the house when I was a small child. Both my parents had grown up with dogs, but they weren’t very interested. My aunt was more interested in dogs and bred cairn terriers. Every time we went there, I spent time with the dogs and cried when we had to leave them to go home. My parents decided to get a dog when I was 8 years old. Since my aunt was a breeder, it was natural to get one of her puppies – a cairn terrier named Bamse. My parents took responsibility for caring for and training him as I was so young. I would accompany my mother to puppy class and I think I read all the dog books available in the library and all the magazines I could get my hands on – many times.
Bamse was a very difficult dog to train in many ways. He as dog aggressive (did not like other male dogs), did not play with me at all, liked to sniff the ground and bit me if we had different opinions on something. I still trained him a lot and waited to turn 12 when I would finally be allowed to start in my first obedience competition. I also wrote my on dog training magazine, held training classes for my friends (often with dogs that we would borrow from families in the neighborhood) and their dogs and dreamed about my future home and all the dogs I would have there. I also remember refusing to draw anything other than dogs in art class. Bamse and I went to a few dog shows, but I really wanted to compete in obedience and in the Swedish working dog program. I would spend many evenings, at all times of the year, at the dog training club. Often on my own. My father would drive me there and then pick me up later at night.
I also dreamed of another dog that would be more willing to train with me. For a while, I was very set on getting a toller, but my parents said no. When I was 13, I found an ad for a border collie litter related to a friend’s nice dog. To my great surprise, my parents told me to call the breeder when I showed it to them. This is how Twiggy came into my life. She was the perfect companion and training friend. She was friendly to everybody, loved to play, always stayed with me, and I could not have asked for a better dog as a teenage dog trainer. Twiggy and I mostly competed in obedience, but also some tracking, agility, and freestyle. I had other interests for a few years as a teenager and didn’t train much, but got back to training and competing a few years later. Twiggy became obedience trial champion and qualified for the Swedish national championships in obedience a couple of times.