IT’S a real dog’s life for some.
And that’s just how Julie Barrett likes it.
Mum-of-two Julie, from Blackpool, has been training dogs ever since she was about 11-years-old.
It started as a hobby – and her full-time job for many years was as a dog warden – and she now runs her own business.
And Julie’s dog training school, FITdogs, has just become the first club in the UK to be allowed to hold licensed Kennel Club rally competitions and training classes as part of the Kennel Club’s listed status initiative.
Rally sees dog and handler teams navigate a course with numbered signs, indicating different exercises to perform – such as sitting down, straight, figure of eight and jumps.
Teams navigate the course at a brisk continuous performance, without direction from the judge.
Julie, who has been running FITdogs, based on Cocker Street Trading Estate, since 2010, said: “I am looking forward to promoting rally under the Kennel Club banner and hope all our endeavours see the sport go from strength-to-strength.
“What I love about rally is the team work – it’s a sport for everyone, young and old.
“It’s great fun to follow the signs and make your way round the course.
“It builds a wonderful partnership between dog and owner.”
Julie has always loved dogs – ever since one of her neighbours when she was a little girl, who fostered dogs, had a mongrel puppy no one wanted.
As a child, Julie loved to play with the dog, which was having difficulty being re-homed as it misbehaved.
She said: “When I was about 11-years -old, I took the dog to training classes every Friday night and then eventually it was re-homed.
“I’ve always loved dogs and working with them.”
Julie enjoys seeing the bond develop between owners and their pets in the training club.
“If you get a really good bond with your dog, they will do anything for you.
“Training is a great, fun activity you can do together.
“It’s great if you can take your dog for a walk, stop and talk to someone you meet on the way and the dog just behaves themselves.
“Most people are only really looking for the basics – for the dog to sit down when told, to not pull on the lead, to come back when called, to not get distracted by other animals.
“But we offer all levels of training, from basic right up.
“And rally is a great sport for people to watch too.
“It will be demonstrated for the first time at Crufts this year.
“When I lived in Spain for a couple of years, rally really helped get over the language barrier.
“I get great satisfaction when I see the dogs progress and I see people bonding with their dogs.
“I love that look of amazement on people’s faces when they realised what their dog can achieve.”
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club secretary, added: “The new listed status initiative was set up to encourage more people to get involved in a whole range of disciplines including agility and rally.
“The initiative gives more organisations the opportunity to run Kennel Club licensed events under their own name and gives dog owners the reassurance of Kennel Club quality and standards.
“Congratulations to FITdogs on becoming the first rally club to achieve this.
“Rally is the latest dog sport to be recognised by the Kennel Club and we’re looking forward to increasing the number of listed status clubs for rally and getting more people involved in such a fantastic sport.”
For more details, call FITdogs on (01253) 292223.