Well where do I start with this?  There already exists on the ISCGB website an article titled ISCGB WORKING TEST Special Beginners - 25/06/2006 Article by Keith Wain & Julie Kelly which gives you an insight into how we came to be owned by Spinoni.

After taking our first Spinone Dino to the Working Test in 2006 we tried to do what was necessary to turn him into a fully-fledged gundog.  At that time and for many years following that there was very little opportunity in the North West for HPR training.  Those that did exist did not seem to understand the Spinone and on some training days we went to people where in fact rude about the breed.  As first time HPR owners we found it all very difficult, added to the fact that Dino was a very headstrong young boy.  Sadly we gave up with the working dream, but it always bothered me that there was so little help out there in our area and specifically virtually nothing for Spinone.

Following our trip to Elstead in 2006 we made many annual trips to help Alix and the team, and started helping with the Gundog pavilions at Game Fairs. We knew this was the sort of thing we wanted to be involved with and I dreamt of there being a North West Group specifically for Spinone one day.
On 6th April 2014 we lost our beloved Dino suddenly to splenic hemangiosarcoma, he would have been 12 years old on the 26th May 2014.  To say we were devastated was an understatement.  We still had Mia though (she came to us is 2009 as a puppy through the rehome and rescue) and she grieved like we did, sadly Mia turned out to be a very timid creature and was not destined to be a working dog. We spent the summer wondering whether we should have another dog or not.  Eventually we started to make enquiries and on 29th November 2014 we brought home Franca Ferola (Dita to her friends).  Keith had been doing more shooting over the intervening years and really wanted to succeed where we had failed with Dino and so the whole training thing raised its head again.

There is definitely more HPR training out there now than there was back in 2006 but still nothing specifically for the Spinone.  We have been to some great trainers since we brought Dita home and continue to do so, but my dream of having some Spinone specific training in the North West was reignited.  We then realised that actually we had access to land that could be used for training in Cheshire, through Keith’s work and family connections, so I spoke with Alix Johnson about my thoughts and she took it to the ISCGB committee to see if they would help me with it – they agreed to cover any training I organised through the clubs insurance and we agreed any profits from training after expenses would go back into the club funds.

So we were off, with the help of Cathy Gill our local representative on the club committee and Kim Kaye a fellow Spinone owner we had met in April 2015 at a training day we set about organising our first training day.  First a Facebook page was set up and all Spinone people that we knew in the local area and further afield interested in working their dogs were added to the group and we explained what we were trying to achieve.  On 29th February we advertised our first training day was to be held on 2nd April for a maximum of 6 dogs – we got 7! How excited and pleased was I, I cannot find the words.  Chris Guest came and did the training for us and despite the terrible weather everyone had a great time.

On the 2nd July we will be running our 4th training day and aim to run one every month going forward, generally on the 1st Saturday of the month to enable people to plan and also to allow us to get organised and arrange trainers.  These dates may change, especially during the shooting season, but we will always advertise on the Facebook page and also put booking forms on various other Facebook pages - Italian Spinone Dog Lovers; The Working Italian Spinone Group; Working Italian Spinone; ISCGB Working Section and the ISCGB Website.  As I find more areas to publicise on social media sites I will do so.

Now that we have run a few days we are starting to learn from what we are seeing and from the trainers and participants feedback what is required and wanted, and so I am looking to get a number of trainers involved for a couple of reasons, not least so that we are not reliant on one and also to bring different things to the training days.  Areas we have identified to date are that there is some requirement for specific basic training improvements and so I have arranged for an Obedience trainer to come to one of the future sessions, also we have identified a need for retriever improvements and again I have arranged for someone who will come and focus on that area.

The days at present have consisted of two sessions of two hours duration with six dogs in each session. These have typically been split between beginners and novice based on the participant’s assessment of their abilities as indicated on the booking forms that are issued.  This format seems to work well at present and we have to date covered our costs.

As all of you who have Spinone will know they are very intelligent dogs and need a purpose in life to stimulate them, you don’t have to want to go and shoot with your dog, or do working tests or field trials, you may just want to have that bond with them through training, whatever your relationship with your dog if you feel that training days like these are something you would be interested in then please get in touch, maybe come and have a watch before committing if you wish.  We would love to see you!

Julie Kelly
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