I originally signed up for a working spot only in the Foundations Seminar on Friday, and then auditing the first day of the Masters Seminar on Saturday. This opportunity was given to me as a birthday present from my parents, and I was so excited. Then on Friday they mentioned that there was a couple open working spots for the Masters, so I jumped at the chance and paid the extra amount to work with LaMesa on Saturday.
I am so glad I did--I learned so much!!
First of all, let me just thank Trisha, who owns Flying Feet, for having this seminar at her place. It's a great indoor facility located in her backyard. The footing is rubber matting like the flooring at Queen City, which my girls love. If you have the opportunity to attend classes, seminars, or a show at Flying Feet, you should jump at it.
Merinda and I videoed eachother working with Dawn, so I hope to have those videos to post here soon. I did pretty well taking notes on Friday, but for the Masters session, it was hard for me to keep up and watch everyone and work LaMesa, so I'll have to wait for Merinda to make copies of her (in-depth) notes.
Here's a little information about Dawn from her website:
Dawn began her career as a veterinary nurse, moved onto dog training and dog grooming and now teaches agility full-time. She takes seminars both nationally and internationally, having taught extensively in the USA, Spain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden to name but a few. She has also written an agility training manual entitled Knowledge Equals Speed which has been printed both in the UK and the USA.
Dawn handles differently to most in that she believes that handlers should be using the dog's handling system rather than a set system designed by a person for the dog to learn. Surely using their preferred natural way of being directed is better than enforcing an unnatural system upon them. So if Dawn's dog goes the 'wrong' way then she learns from it and asks herself how she just directed her dog in that direction rather than just blaming the dog for a 'mistake'.
She believes that a dog gives you unconditional love which never varies no matter how many handling mistakes you have just made in the ring! This should be a two-way street and if her dog makes a mistake in the ring, or in training, her love is equally unconditional and her treatment of him does not change.
Using this natural handling has resulted in her dogs achieving some major accomplishments as follows:
- Chelsea is the only dog to have won Olympia 4 times;
- Puzzle is the only Papillon ever to have become an Agility Champion in the UK;
- Promise has won the major final the Crufts Singles;
- Breezer has won the main Crufts Agility Championship which made her an Agility Champion;
- Freeway, Minky, Chelsea and Puzzle have all won Gold Medals for their country at World Championship level;
- Chelsea, Puzzle and Breezer are all Agility Champions with Chelsea holding 15 Championship Tickets.
The thing I really liked about Dawn is that she doesn't work with a handling system--she believes in doing what works for your dog, because not every dog fits into a mold. Which is perfect, because I know Dally doesn't fit into a mold and LaMesa is definitely not fitting into any mold at this moment.
I definitely recommend looking into any of her seminars if she's in your area.
I'll post more about the seminar later this week.