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Julie Barrett

My name is Julie Barrett, and I am the managing director of and senior trainer at Fitdogs.

During the late 1950’s, I fell in love with a GSD, who came calling at our back gate. This dog, who went by the name of Rusty, was an escapee of the Metropolitan Police Dog Training Centre based at Keston, Kent A handler was sent to collect him from our home; it was this handler who introduced me to the world of dogs. Thereafter I would sneak off to watch the police dogs training whenever I had the opportunity. During 1987 I attended an instructors course with ‘Anglo American Dog Training’ run by Roy Hunter, and it was he who introduced me to my beloved breed of German Shepherd Dogs, who later become the Chief Inspector in charge of training at the Keston centre - and the handler who had collected his dog Rusty all those years previously!

At present I am owned by a GSD and a ‘Wookie’ dog. I also had a Northern Inuit, who went by the name of Isis (not named after the Egyptian goddess but after the source of the River Thames in Oxfordshire) who I sadly lost in 2012 at the age of 12. Isis, given to me by her breeder as an anorexic, weak, sickly pup who at eight weeks old weighed in at a measly 2 kilos, less than her litter mates at 10 kilos! I would like to “thank” Jan, her breeder, as Isis became my purpose and reason in life when I sorely needed it. She had the most wonderful temperament and was so laid back she was almost horizontal, as they say! She made a fantastic ‘stooge dog’, her body language was so easily read, she never retaliated and she just loved puppies.

I also had “Rusty Ru” a Spanish Campo (countryside), Mixto (crossbreed), who had probably been dumped from a car. He was finally caught with bribes after two weeks by the charity “Animals in Distress” whilst chasing cars on the main Coín/Malaga road; his feet were a bloodied mess and he had been hit by a car at least once. Sadly he passed away from cancer in 2016. He was another dog with such a placid temperament that in a lot of ways, he took over from Isis as a ‘stooge dog’ in our training. Everyone just fell in love with him!

My GSD is ‘Gimli’ and he is a typical ‘lager lout’ - loveable but thick as two short planks and twice as heavy. He is backed up by “Kasha”, another dog rescued by A.I.D. Having been badly injured at a very young age and having a terribly broken leg. Nursed with love and care, she joined us in 2012 and has a terrific character - why a ‘Wookie’? It’s the way she sounds when she quite literally tries to talk to us……it has to be heard to be believed!

My working history includes breeding and ‘working’ GSD’s for many years, starting in working trails. Later I started training and competing in agility, until my dog had an untimely accident which prevented him from jumping, I then started competing in Open Obedience shows. Whilst working as a Dog Warden, I became involved with a pet food manufacturer and in association with them I organised an annual ‘Super Dogs’ contest in conjunction with the Blackpool ‘Animal Magic Day’ to raise money for the RSPCA, for three years in succession during the early 90’s. With the permission of Chief Inspector Ronald Dean, I trained for Hutton, the Lancashire Police Dogs and their handlers in agility, to enable them to take part against teams from the NW Rottweiler Club, and members of Obedience Clubs in the Blackpool and Preston area.

When personal circumstances forced me to give up training and competing, I decided it was time to gain and expand my knowledge. I attended many courses and seminars, passing the Federation of Dog Trainers and Canine Behaviourists, Canine Studies course (with merit) and then went on to gain a City and Guilds in Canine Studies. Recently I have attended a course with The British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers where I was awarded a 2nd grade. This allows me, with their permission, to run the BIPDT ‘National Code’ in Spain and UK.

After studying with The Academy of Dog Trainers and Behaviourists, and passing their practical assessment, I very proudly became an Approved Instructor. During 2007 I started spending a lot of time in Spain, where I ran a dog training service, and helped out in the local charity shop ‘Animals In Distress’. Later I helped some new owners and adoptee’s with behavioural problems. I then formed FITdogs to promote the BIPDT ‘National Code’  and during July 2009 I was joined by my fellow director Sabrina to promote responsible dog ownership, by running the BIPDT ‘National Code’.

Since December 2009 I have become a member of the UK Kennel Club Accredited Instructors scheme and have become heavily involved in Kennel Club Rally. In 2014 I was the first instructor to be awarded KCAI in Rally.

I am the current Team Manager for the  Northern Team competing in the Inter-regional Rally Competition at the 2017 Crufts Dog Show.

Caroline Ward

My name is Caroline Ward and I have always loved animals.

As a child we had a family dog, Monty, a cocker spaniel as well as a variety of small pets.

Circumstances meant that I was unable to have a second dog for many years but eventually we were able to welcome Bella, a papillon, into our home who enjoyed training, especially in Rally, tricks and scent work. Darcy, a Shetland sheep dog came into our lives as a re-home in 2013 and Rally has helped to build up the bond between us. This year we have a new addition, Joey, a papillion puppy.

In 2014 I joined FITdogs to train rally and become a volunteer instructor. Since then I have gained my Level 1 and 2 Clicker and Target Training (currently working towards Level 3), and have also attended workshops and course including; Dog Handling and Bite Prevention; and Canine First Responder. I am also a member of ADTB and I am working towards accreditation for my KCAI.

I now take my own classes and this year (2016) have achieved my IABTC Assistant Instructor - I am currently working towards full Instructor. I have also recently become a trainer for Dog Aid.

I am especially interested in how dogs learn and feel, and I am an advocate for the smaller dog breeds who I feel have great potential.