an excerpt from my upcoming book “following the lead”
My family background
Both of my parents were townies! Animals did not play any part in their childhoods, not an auspicious start for a dog trainer, or was it?
My Dad was born within the sound of Bow Bells in a poor part of the East End. His Mother my Nan was in service before she married my Grandfather who was a dock worker, as were his forefathers, when there was work available. I didn’t ever meet my paternal Grandfather, he deserted his family before my Dads fifth birthday, by which time my Nan had given birth to 3 other children, though as was common back then, only 3 survived at that point in time.
My Dad told me how Nan would wake them in the night, to flee their lodgings to avoid paying the rent that was due, illustrating the level of poverty they were living under. My Dad always thought that Mum was up market from him!
My Mum, by comparison had a more affluent start in life, it was certainly more stable being supported by 2 parents and a large extended family in the city of Lincoln. Mum was one of 8 children, with 5 surviving to adulthood. Her Dad, my Granddad worked in a local factory and was a band leader for the Salvation Army in his spare time. I do remember that my maternal grandparents did not like animals. For Mum and Dad it was an era of little leisure time and even less disposable income, little wonder that neither of them had ever lived with a pet dog.
In the decade I was born, human life was not respected or treated as carefully as it is now, and dogs even less so.
For the most part, only the more privileged classes owned pedigree dogs, including the hunting and shooting types. Sterilisation of dogs was not the norm and in this age of latch key children and dogs, crossbreds bred freely and were cheap to come by, if not free, as the puppies were unplanned and unwanted.
Compared to today dog training was still in the dark ages, a time when a “good hiding” was the most commonly known method of training a dog, to “show them whose the boss”. When reward based training was practically unheard of, but considering reward was not a familiar concept for teaching children it is hardly surprising that dogs fared no better.
I feel fortunate that I grew up in a household that did not believe in beating children or dogs, at least two mistakes my parents did not make though they were so very ignorant about dogs, as was I!