Mary-Jane Opie has been training gundogs for over thirty years – both for the field and competition. After having tasted a little success with her first working bred Labrador thirty years ago, she has gone on to compete at the highest level – and in 2010 made up her young Labrador to Field trial Champion and compete in the IGL Championships at Sandringham. In 2012 FTCh Decies Dodge by Studebaker again qualified for the IGL Championships in Nairne, Scotland and in 2013 they went again to compete in Lauder, Scotland for the season’s Championships – getting through to the last day…. the top 10 dogs in the country! Mary-Jane is a ‘A’ panel judge for the Kennel Club, judging competitions all around the country. While abroad Mary-Jane has had the pleasure of judging and take training forums in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Sweden. For Twenty years Mary-Jane has run Rabley Gundog Training Club in London, and now with ‘Spaniel in the Works’ in West Devon, helping dog owners who want to train their dogs to various degrees and standards. Mary-Jane has a great way of getting training techniques over to fellow dog owners in a way that is fun, productive, and will help any gundog owner fulfill their potential as a dog handler – to whatever degree they require – be it from obedient pet gundog to field trialer. The sessions can last between one and two hours, covering every thing from heelwork, retrieving to hand, whistle work, jumps/obstacles and hunting in cover. The terrain, while rough, is equipped with a retrieving lane, jumps etc. offering other useful gundog training style scenarios. If required a simulated dog walk can be undertaken to help owners discover the possibilities for training their dog at home on their own and during the daily exercise walk. Group Training sessions can take place at Cholwell – please contact us direct for dates, venue etc. Mary-Jane also runs a well stocked gundog training equipment shop….including The Single Shot! For references please look at what others have said!
Zoe Townsend’s life with dogs began with a rather naughty Airedale terrier (Ivor) about 25 years ago, ‘I trained him at the local obedience class, and we did quite well there but out on walks, he was more interested in other dogs than me on some occasions; basically, I walked many miles that were unnecessary at times! He was a nice dog and loved his family but could be a bit wayward!’
In 1999, I moved to Devon, with the wayward Airedale and my horse Arnie (which had been a real childhood dream). In the yard I kept Arnie, I met a lady who had Labradors and we became friends. My farming relatives had labs, and I was always very taken by their loyalty and had always liked them as a child. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I bought a lab puppy, Henry and I started to train him as a gundog and that is how I really started in working dogs. I enjoyed the training; it was nice having a dog that came back when I called him and loved to retrieve. We began competing and I really enjoyed the social side of having a day out with like minded people.
I then, started trialling, with labs and then spaniels (Springers and cockers) thoroughly enjoyed it. It was heaven!! I have learnt a lot about dogs and the various ways you can achieve your goal in a positive manner, I do like to experiment with new ideas, and I am very open to training with different people whether obedience or gundog.
A very good friend of mine introduced me to Rally Obedience at the end of covid, when we were aloud out! What an eye opener for training, real fun, and a lovely bunch of people! I have two obedience dogs now; Tukka, 18 months, who is now level 3 and Keld who is 4 and has excelled at Rally and will be running in the South and Southwest team at Crufts on the 9th of March at level 3/4. They will both be running in Novice Working gundog tests over the summer season.