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My Life and BackgroundMost people have to some extent led interesting lives. Some perhaps more interesting than others. But all have a tale to tell and have fascinating backgrounds. My own life has been somewhat varied, and my early life as a child was certainly been instrumental in my chosen profession today.
I believe I was destined to become a dog trainer and finally a behaviourist.. My life seemed to move in that direction from almost the day I was born.
I am not sure if I am just clumsy or the things I have done have caused the problems I have had. I have a nasty habit of breaking bones. The first was when I was 4.5 years old. I had a freak accident and badly shattered my femur.
This was the start of a life long rather unfortunate habit of bone breaking. Since that day I have broken just about every bone in my body at some time or other. I was in hospital for some considerable time because at my age the break, known as a greenstick fracture, was quite serious and may have left me having to wear a built up boot because one leg would have been much shorter than the other.
I was put in traction. in something called a Tomlinson splint. When I watch the old “Carry on Doctor” films it always reminds of that time. They always have a bloke in them with a pulley system on his broken leg which is how the splint worked to pull the bone apart to allow growth between the gap.
However that first fateful fracture was the very reason I bonded so closely with our family dog called Jinx. He was a German Shepherd, though they called them Alsatians when I was a kid.
It was not long after the 2nd world war. Memories of that conflict still caused bad feelings. That is why the name Alsatian came about., that the word German in German Shepherd was seen as negative. People were actually euthanising their dogs just because they were German Shepherds.
Seems strange thinking back on it now. But that was the thought process at that time. So Jinx became my friend, mentor and constant companion through a long and protracted convalescence. I was not allowed out with other children for fear of further damage to the leg. It was also during this time that I studied music and the piano.
I have vivid memories of dad bringing Jinx home, I was four at the time and it is one of my earliest recollections. Dad had come in with this big galumph of a puppy, all legs, paws and floppy ears, attached to a bit of old rope. Dad decided to go out and buy a proper collar and lead and left us to look after him.
By the time he returned, my sister and I were stood on the kitchen table hugging and screaming our heads off, whilst the puppy ran round us like a red indian attacking a wagon train. Joyously barking and woofing as if it were the greatest game in the world
After coming out of hospital I used to watch the other kids playing together through my bedroom window. I had what's called a camp bed downstairs, the stairs were far too difficult for me to climb at that time..
For a short time I envied the other children their freedom and companionship, as they ran around playing games and enjoying themselves. however it did not take me long to realise that they did not have Jinx. Therefore my envy was always short lived. What happened during that time and forms part of a book I am writing, called "Dogs and the Alpha Myth".
I now realise that the traumatic events of that time and Jinx's tragic early death when I was eight years old, was almost certainly the catalyst that made me finally go into this amazing profession. I detail what happened in my first book which is hopefully due out early next year.
I joined the forces at the tender age of fifteen. Junior leaders had not long been formed, I was based at Bovington Camp. The Royal Armoured Corps main depot in Dorset. Some may have been to the Tank Museum there? Juniors leaders was the camp right opposite the museum.
It was some of the toughest years of my life. The Army was trying to create future leaders of men. This was not long after conscription finished. We were really put through the most grueling of training for two and a half years. Imagine basic training that lasted years instead of weeks and you will get a feel for what we went through. Life as a Junior Leader might have been tough but it was never dull " We joined as boys and left as men"
For outdoor training we had an Adventure Training Centre at Renney Lentney an old World War 2 battery camp near Dartmoor where we spent two weeks of each 14 week term taking part in outdoor activities such as potholing, sailing, rock climbing, orienteering, yomping, ten tors and cliff rescue.
Looking at how some of the youth of today. I get the feeling that perhaps that type of discipline, self pride, and respect could possibly be helpful in creating people with stronger personalities, self belief and a real work ethic.
I certainly had respect for my parents, elders and for what my country stood for. I believe more importantly that I had respect for myself and what I achieved in the forces. In my opinion self respect allows you to also respect others. That includes authority (when it is earned). It probably sounds old fashioned by today's standards. Irrespective, that is how I still feel and behave even in today's supposedly enlightened times.
Many ended up in the para's or special forces, for the simple reason that they found it so easy when finally they joined their chosen regiments. You could not be in what was called man-service until you were seventeen and a half. My regiment of choice was initially the 5th Royal Tank Regiment and I stayed with them for two years before moving on. It has been disbanded now through all the various cut backs.
We were known as junior bleeders or boy brats. Most of the adults training us had joined as conscripts at the back end of the 50s and had stayed on after conscription finished. Some signed up for the full 22 years. We were the new kids on the block. Cocky, confident, and highly motivated, we were not initially liked. We had joined of our own choice, not forced to serve through conscription, that to some extent rankled with some of the old timers. That and the fact that we were superbly fit and very highly trained ast the tender age did cause problems.
I spent ten years in the Army and came out when I got married. Eve my wife, amazingly still puts up with me after all these years. I have two daughters Joanna and Louise and four grandchildren. Both my daughters are dog mad and so is my brothers and sisters One of them Paul Rawlinson is also a behaviourist. and owns the company K9 Dogs www.k9dogs.co.uk My youngest daughter Louise has her own company working with dogs called Paws Claws. www.pawsclaws.co.uk
When I came out of the Army I did a number of jobs from Sales,professional musician rock and classical, oboe piano and multi instrumental, including all keyboards. I spent time working the door at clubs. The forces really tended to toughen you up, and taught you how to look after yourself.
Once I settled down after trying out a number of jobs, which took a bit of time. I had known nothing but the army from the tender age of fifteen. I finally ended up in sales and especially financial services. working my way up to branch manager in charge of over 80 financial advisors and 5 managers.
I believe the forces taught me that if you do something, then do it to your best ability. Everything I have done since has been based on this simple premise. All my hobbies including golf, clay pigeon shooting and photography reflected this belief. I ended as captain in the gold club, AA shot in clay pidgeon shooting.. I have had some of my photographs published and was top salesman before management. And voted top branch manager.
I got my first dog as an adult not long after leaving the forces. That was the start of my ultimate passion and hobby. Skip was a Springer Spaniel. I got him from a well known gamekeeper called Fred West. Not the infamous one, but a real character of a man who everyone loved. He just gave me the dog as he thought it would not make a gundog.
Skip was my first real foray into gundog training and I made lots of mistakes. Despite my ineptitude I managed to get Skip to work adequately enough to be able to beat and pickup on a number of well known shoots, without too many accidents or embarrassment.
He was an lovely and affectionate dog who everyone liked except my wife Eve.He decided that he would listen and take commands from only one person. With Eve, he used a common spaniel trait called selective deafness.I remember one day when she has taken Skip over to our nearest royal park called Bushy Park. I had to go into work early that day to a meeting. I was called out of the meeting with an urgent call.. The dog had gone into the main lake in Bushy and refused to come out.
To make matters significantly worse it was the first day of the coarse fishing season. There were over a hundred anglers going ballistic as he joyously romped in the water tangling their lines. As soon as I turned up, he immediately ran out the water and sat in front of me wagging his tail, which has the effect of frustrating my wife even more. I don't think she ever really liked him, but he lived until the ripe old age of 14.
My dogs were all Springers for the first 15 years and at one time I trained and worked three springer as gundogs at a number of well known shooting estates. It was at this time that I really started getting involved in training other peoples dogs initially gundogs then onto all types of pet dogs and all types of problems.
To Be continued