My name is Kathrine Walker and I am a dog lover of many years. I grew up on a dairy farm where animals were part of my everyday life.
I was introduced to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in my teens, however was not a proud owner of this wonderful breed until 1998, when as a family with young children, we chose to bring a Cavvie into our home and our lives.
In June 2010 I acquired my second Cavalier through my teenage daughter, who purchased a beautiful male ruby Cavalier from a pet store. He was just lovely, but only six weeks of age when he came to live with us. Just after a couple of weeks, my daughter was over the toilet training and constant care that comes with a young pup and so she handed him over to me. I would just like to make clear that I am not a supporter of pet stores selling puppies, however I do believe that things happen for a reason, for which you will see as this story goes on.
Loui was a beautiful pup, very playful and cheeky, but by the time he was around five months of age he was beginning to become very possessive of items. These articles weren’t his toys, but things that he shouldn’t have, for example pens and pencils, socks, clothes pegs, plastic bags; basically anything that he could get his paws on. The problem escalated to the point where if we walked by him when he was possessing over an item, he would growl and if we got too close, yes he would bite. I just couldn’t understand this behaviour, as my other Cavalier, who was 11 by this time, was the most placid dog I had ever encountered.
I knew that I had to do something to curb this behavior but I was unsure as to what I should do and where I should look for help. I began searching for a local dog training school and came across a group that met weekly at a local soccer field. These classes turned out to be less than ideal as the group was very large and involved dogs of all different obedience levels, and additionally there wasn’t any individual help available. I did speak with a trainer there regarding Loui’s obsessive behaviour and was told to get myself a good pair of gardening gloves to protect my hands whilst I removed items of possession from him. This useless piece of information and the lack of individualised support led me to dread taking Loui to training classes. As you could imagine, things did not improve with Loui’s behaviour, but rather became worse.
Then one day I was driving to Maroochydore and happened to see a little van turning through the traffic lights, displaying the Canine Classroom signage. When I got home later that day I jumped on line and began my searched. I found the Canine Classroom website and filled in the online enquiry email link and hit send. It wasn’t long before I had a reply from Dave, urging me to come down to the first-timers meeting where Loui could be assessed and I could consider whether the Canine Classroom was right for us.
Loui and I headed off to the assessment day that following weekend, and I made the decision to sign up with the Canine Classroom, with a goal of successfully passing the Control Level. I knew that Loui had a long way to go before we would reach this point, but I was determined to do whatever I needed to do, not just to benefit our family as a whole, but I wanted Loui to have a fantastic life with us and knew that this would only be possible if I could provide him with the right training and guidance.
However, that same night, after I signed up with the Canine Classroom, a devastating event occurred. Loui was lying on my bed on top of a calico shopping back. Unbeknownst to me, Loui was guarding the calico bag, and when I lent in towards him to talk to him he lunged at my face, grabbing hold of my nose with his teeth. It was one of those moments in time where things happen in slow motion. He seemed to latch onto my nose for minutes, but it was probably only seconds. One of my daughters was also lying on the bed with Loui at this time, and when our eyes met, the disbelief on both of our faces said it all. When I finally got Loui to release his grip from me I rushed to the bathroom to inspect the damage. I had a huge gash on my nose, although luckily it was a straight tear. I ended up attending the emergency department at my local hospital to get the wound checked and cleaned, and to have a tetanus booster. As the wound was straight and the edges clean, it was left to heal naturally without stitching.
The whole time I was sitting in the waiting room at the emergency department all I could think about was that my beautiful little dog had bitten me. What do I do in this situation? Does this warrant a dog being put down? I loved Loui so much by this time that the thought of losing him was very painful. I had to consider that he had bitten me, which was bad enough, but what if he had done this to a child? I was so confused and distressed. I got home from the hospital and just cried.
The next day I phoned Dave and told him what had happened. Dave was a pillar of strength for me that day. I was still very upset but Dave was able to reassure me that these problems could be worked through. The relief that I felt when I knew that support and help was available for Loui and I was overwhelming. To know that I was not going to have to get rid of my little dog was a huge relief. Dave also suggested that I take Loui to get a checkup with a vet just to make sure that he wasn’t suffering from any conditions that might be causing his behaviour. He referred me to a fantastic vet; who, if I may please, give a plug to – Greg Mahon at Mountain View Vet Surgery, Buderim, who is an awesome vet. Loui got the all clear, so we knew that we were dealing with primarily behavioural issues.
From that moment on Dave, Lisa and the Canine Classroom team were there to provide me with a wealth of information, support and the skills that I needed to deal with Loui’s issues. Dave provided me with the ability to confidently deal with and overcome Loui’s possessive behaviour. It took a lot of work and commitment but we got there in the end. Loui occasionally still likes guard things, socks seem to be his fetish, however he willingly surrenders them now when told to do so.
The work that I have put in with Loui makes our relationship all that more special. He has come such a long way and is an amazing dog. I am not saying that he is perfect by any means, but compared to the dog he was three years ago, he is a superstar. Being members of the Canine Classroom have made us competent in many aspects of dog training including the usual sit, drop, heel, come, etc. However, the most significant achievement has been the ability to deal with and overcome Loui’s possessive behaviour. Undoubtedly this outcome could not have been achieved without Dave’s expertise, enthusiasm and passion for his work. It is such a pleasure to go to training each week, knowing that Dave is highly driven to provide outstanding outcomes for his doggy customers and their owners. Loui and I absolutely love going to “school” at the Canine Classroom and have exceeded all expectations. We not only achieved a pass in the Control level of training, but also further went on to successfully obtain a pass in the Advanced and final level of training. And yes, I am very proud.
Just to finish off, as I mentioned earlier in this piece, I do believe that things happen for a reason and one of those things is that Loui came to live with me. Honestly, I don’t believe that there are a lot of people who would have had the time, patience or determination to deal with his issues and I think Loui would have ended up in a re-homing program or maybe something even worse. I have often thought of what the consequences could have been if Loui had ended up with another family with small children, or someone who didn’t fancy dealing with a dog with problems. I am just so happy that Loui came to be my dog, and extremely fortunate that I was driving to Maroochydore on a particular day when I saw Dave’s work van with his Canine Classroom sign on it.
Finally, I would just like to say, “Thank you Dave”. I so very much appreciate everything you have done for Loui and I. Your work ethic and commitment is absolutely amazing and for that we are forever grateful.
“Thank you Dave”. I so very much appreciate everything you have done for Loui and I. Your work ethic and commitment is absolutely amazing and for that we are forever grateful.