Piper and Zuzu – and my Standard story
Piper and Zuzu a couple of well loved furkids are enjoying their first vacay at Happy Tails ~ Muskoka’s Retreat for the Furry Elite since 1996
I have a deep love and long history with Standard Poodles. It starting when I moved to Standard, Alberta in 1980 to apprentice with Elaine Mitchell, Canada’s Top All-Breed Professional Dog Show Handler. Elaine specialized in coated and scissored breeds and at that time was campaigning Am. Can. Ch. VIP Elvis Presley (St. Poo) who held the Top All Breed Dog in Canada title two years. Elvis’ house mate Elly (St. Poo) held the same prestigious Top All Breed Dog in Canada for 3 years priorly.
The first day of my apprenticeship started January 3, 1980 at 7 am. It finished the next morning at 2 am. It was just before a show circuit. Serious apprenticeship requires serious hard commitment. Elaine traveled all dog show circuits and had approximately 40 dogs at any time being prepared, shown for their Champion titles or campaigned to be top in their breed, group, and some, like Elvis, for Top All Breed Dog in the country.
Most days started at 7 am and ended at 9 pm with dog show prep days being much earlier and later. My first half day off was at the end of April for my birthday. I lived, breathed and shared my life almost 24/7 with my mentors and some of the most beautiful, amazing dogs.
My after-hours project was Sam (St. Poo) who arrived badly matted. Sam shared my bed so I could continue de-matting him gently without any coat loss; this activity replaced reading before sleep. After he returned home I took to studying copious amounts of Elaine’s dog books and magazines any moment I could take and at the end of my full days.
My apprenticeship with Elaine paid me much more than my room and board and the $50 a week spending money. It was a basis of my professional dog career. It gave me the eye for movement that took me to Calgary University to study anatomy and kinesiology, and helped me become a top breeder exhibitor of Siberian Huskies with over 75 champion titles, including multi-speciality BIS and 2 International World champions. Years later it helped me create the government approved curriculum to teach others grooming in the first government licensed vocational school with programs 9 and 15 weeks long. It gave me a love of dog photography, the insight and dog knowledge that helped me become founding editor of Cottage Dog Magazine. That same love of dog photography I passionately share now with my Facebook followers.
While I don’t pooh-pooh internet courses as resources as both myself and my staff take them. There is nothing better than real hands on apprenticeship training. Its hard work to achieve what you want and are passionate about. The work gained through apprenticeship surpasses anything you can buy from an IT certified course. Apprenticeship is why I am investing in my team to continue to grow Happy Tails alongside me.
Special congratulations to two of my team who received certificates in Dog Emotion and Cognitive Studies from Duke University this week. Janet Moore has been my shuttle driver for over 8 years and graduated with 94% and Simona Rogers graduated with 98%. Four other team members are studying and working towards their certificates now.