We adopted Buddy from the SPCA in January. He was like a little wooden dog emotionally and we think he had been beaten and pulled around on a chain. I soon realised he was a hunter with a terrific “prey instinct” (Tania’s phrase for ruthless killer!) He was absolutely wild and did whatever he liked. Within a week I was phoning pro-life animal welfare organisations, but they were all full. I couldn’t send him back to Death Row, and the only alternative was to keep him and train him. I stopped trying to get Buddy to accept the cat in a controlled environment, and we still have a divided household (“Dogs are in, I’m letting the cat out! … Cat’s in, dogs can go out!”) I hope that if we ever make a mistake, having a trained dog may avert a tragedy.

We started training with Tania in May. I have found all three teachers very positive and encouraging with a deep understanding of dogs.  I am grateful they have all accepted that he has a problem with his throat and haven’t insisted on using a choke chain on him. At the first lesson Buddy was very excited and made such a noise Tania had to slap him lightly under the muzzle and squirt him with water to make him shut up. I was a bit taken aback, but it worked!

I don’t particularly enjoy training him at home, but I find ten minutes a day is manageable and even though I don’t do it every day, it has made a terrific difference to Buddy and to our relationship. It has given us a bond. He’s learned that he is a “good dog”, which means that he realises there is a difference between good and bad behaviour. I think he has started feeling better about himself. He’s still quite wild in his behaviour, tearing round the garden shrieking at birds, but is much more responsive to commands now – we can see the difference between Buddy and the other little dog we adopted at the same time and have not trained. He has also become confident and affectionate, and developed a lovely sense of humour. Even with our cat problem, there is no way I’d get rid of him now.

No, we don’t like the obstacle course, either of us! But we like the obedience class (until he spots a bird and wants to give chase). We are also looking forward to defence work with Terence. Buddy spots anything out of the ordinary and he’s fascinated whenever he sees Terence looking furtive at the other end of the training ground!

The atmosphere at the Pretoria Shepherd Dog Club is friendly and welcoming, the dogs are treated with respect, and the cost of training is very reasonable. I’m really pleased I  brought  Buddy here for training.