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The Story of Rob and his Journey

This is our journey from novice to advanced and everything in between with our two gundogs.

November of 2021 was the first training session undertaken by my better half Shelley. A typical November rainy Sunday morning in fact very wet. Shelley with our five month old Red fox Labrador Reddington(Red for short) started the first training session of many at Kirkbourne Spaniel’s.



After being rained on for a hour watching Shelley and Red train this lad decided to get out of the really bad weather and chill in the warm jeep. Shelley and Red managed a hour and a half before coming back to the car like drowned rats hahahaha. It rained that hard that poor old Red was whimpering and Shelley looked like she had a second skin lol… I will remember that day for some time to come.

At some point over the next few training sessions one thing lead to another and I took over the responsibility of training Red.

I was very apprehensive when attending my first training session but was quickly put at ease by A fella called Darren Kirk. Red and I were soon in the swing of things learning heal work, sit and stay and seen/memory retrieve’s and doing really well at them all. Red then entered into his juvenile stage and trying to show me who is boss running round the field after I had cast him off to retrieve a dummy also running straight past me with retrieves.

This became a regular occurrence and began to play on my mind that this was going to happen at every training session which made me very apprehensive of attending them. I then took the decision to do a couple of one to ones with one of Kirkbourne’s trainers ‘Paul White’.



The fist thing Paul said to me is “let him off the lead and let him get the running around out of the way”. Paul then said “ what ever direction Red is running we will go the opposite direction, this will make Red wonder what was so interesting in the direction we were walking. Low and behold it worked over trotted Red wondering what was going on. This was then incorporated into retrieves and this had very positive results.

Over the next few month’s I really struggled to get Red under control and to listen to the commands I was giving him and this wasn't for the want of trying. Darren also tried a couple of thing that worked for a short time. Unfortunately I came to the conclusion that Red was a KNOBHEAD and wasn't cut out to be a gundog.

The positives are that Shelley and I have a well-behaved dog that sits on command and is a pleasure to be around. Kirkbourne have played a very big part in Red and my life. Very recently Red started to come back to us when recalled and we are able to put him on his lead when needed.

My journey continued with our second dog Stella she came to us through Paul and Sarah who are part of Kirkbourne.

Stella was partly trained and was already adept at novice level tasks such as seen/memory retrieves, sit and stay and heel work. I have now been training with Stella for just over a year and have managed to obtain our bronze which placed us into intermediate training which incorporated directional, stop whistle over obstacles such as fences and walls for retrieves.



Stella and I entered into our first Novice working test and me being me thought we would absolutely breeze it as Stella was doing really well at training. This was not the case unfortunately the task were pretty simple but Stella and I ended up with no points over three tasks. To say I was disappointed was an understatement but this would prove to be a good disappointment as this highlighted the areas that Stella and I needed to train.

It was then that Stella and I were asked to join a team to compete in Kirkbourne’s working test at Richmond. We had around three weeks or so to prepare for the competition and we trained with a team trainer and other experienced handlers to prepare as best as we could for the comp.

Stella and I competed with three other handlers and dogs as a team. I was very nervous on our first task but after the team completing it to the best of our ability the nerves subsided. Our team didn't do very well but the experience and camaraderie at the competition weekend was awesome and I would like to compete again given the chance.

Stella and I have continued training on a weekly basis with Darren and his team at Kirkbourne and have achieved a third place in an intermediate working test and our train to win silver assessment which has aloud us to train in advanced training session which does test our dogs to there full capability and sometimes beyond.

In summary my two dogs and I have thoroughly enjoyed training at Kirkbourne and fell we have made some really good friends.


1 Comment


What a lovely story of your journey with Red and Stella. Well done with your journey so far!

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