I recently attended a clinic and was totally surprised to have a number of people asking me why? Leaving me to wonder at the thought process of some “dog people”.
World class athletes have coaches to “keep them on the straight and narrow”. Top Olympian riders always have someone who can “step back” and watch them ride … giving advice as to what they are doing wrong and the steps they can take to improve.
The reason a clinic (or lesson) is helpful is because it’s difficult to be “in the middle” of working your dog while standing back objectively judging what YOU are doing. So, what better way to get an objective “point of view” than to have someone you respect give you their opinion?
Anyway, back to the Clinic … put on by Geri Byrne *who does a good a job of putting on a clinic as she does putting on the Finals* and given by Alasdair (perhaps that’s the only name I need to say … you know sort of like Madonna :@) MacRae.
Through the years I’ve put on a number of clinics with Alasdair (dating back 12 or more years ago) and he’s always given easily and freely of his knowledge to everyone attending and willing to listen. However, through the years he has gotten better at communicating all that knowledge. He’s also come up with some great visual techniques to help students to understand HOW to get their dogs to accomplish the instruction he has given them. This is especially helpful to novices that haven’t yet learned how to read their sheep.
He has an uncanny ability to read dog/sheep/ handler and give a quick evaluation and solution to the problem. Making sure he informs them that THIS solution might work for this dog BUT not another one having the same issue. I’ve always wondered about trainers that give the same “cookie cutter” solution for “each and every” dog .
He also goes out of his way to communicate WHY he is trying to get the dog to do something … not just make the dog “do it”. Trying to get you to understand the theory behind the action. This goes along with a very old adage “give a man a fish and he will eat for the day … teach him HOW to fish and he will eat for a lifetime”.
Working sheep is complicated and difficult … so the more “tricks of the trade'” you can learn the better off you will be – both as a handler and trainer. Hopefully allowing you and your dog to advance long after the clinic is over.
If you ever get a chance … go out of your way to go . I think you and your dog will appreciate everything he has to offer.