A dog-training holiday in Cornwall

Travel writer Robin Mead took his recently-acquired rescue dog, Evie, on a special dog-training holiday in Cornwall. How did they get on? Robin decided to let Evie tell the story.

Evie at Polean Farm, CornwallLook, who says I need training? Do what you like, when you like: that’s my motto. And after spending 12 months on the streets, I don’t see any reason to change my ways.

Perhaps I should explain. I’m a two-year-old German Shepherd/collie cross, and I was found homeless and half-starved in Livada, Greece, about a year ago. A rescue organization brought me to the UK and after a couple of false starts with would-be owners I finally adopted my “for ever” humans in July.

They’re a funny pair. They seem to be under the impression that I’m going to do what they tell me! I thought I had already demonstrated that was not the case, when they took me to local training classes. But then they booked a holiday on a farm in Cornwall, and cunningly didn’t mention that the holiday included three days of one-to-one classes with specialist trainers Jackie and Terry Lawer. www.capablecanines.org 

Val and EviePolean Farm is roughly midway between Looe and Polperro, and in the summer its lovely, stone-built, self-catering cottages are very popular with families. For that reason Polean is more of a play farm, coupled with livery stables. Farmer Keith takes the youngsters on tractor rides; there are plenty of sheep, goats and pigs which enjoy being petted; and the morning hunt to discover where the free range chicken have hidden their eggs is a hugely popular event.

I joined in the latter, even though I wasn’t invited.  I thought chasing the chickens might encourage them to hurriedly deposit a few more eggs, but they just rushed about, squawking and flapping their wings. Neither Farmer Keith nor my humans seemed very pleased about this pastime, and I had to be put on a lead.

Polean Farm have had the bright idea of running dog training holidays outside the peak school holiday season, and three of the comfortable cottages are “dog friendly”. Apparently, this is because they have ‘accident-proof’ stone floors. What do they think I am: uncivilized or something?

Training and surveying the scenery with one of her humansClasses take place in a huge indoor training arena, and trainer Jackie turned out to be not only quite strict but also very tricky. When I ignored her calls to “Come here”, she produced a squeaky toy and of course I had to keep rushing over to investigate what it was. I liked Terry best, especially as he had a pocketful of tasty treats that I thought he might be willing share. But do you know what? If I didn’t do what he said, he kept his hand firmly in his pocket and ignored me!

Well, you have to humour these people, don’t you? So I put on my best behaviour, and as a reward I was allowed to try out the hurdles and tunnels of a sort of canine assault course. Though I say it myself, I was pretty good at that. What fun!

I think I rather like this ‘holidays’ idea. The people at Polean knew all the best dog walks in the area, as well as the best beaches for indulging in my favourite pastime: splashing about in the sea.  They even sent us to a dog-friendly teashop in Looe  – although I noticed that, while my humans scoffed a cream tea, all I got was a bowl of water.

Jackie Lawer with her own collieMy only complaint, really, is that everyone seemed to be ordering me about. My best chance of asserting myself came when I spotted the farm’s huge black cat, Tom, lying on his back in the sun. I rushed over, anticipating a really good chase, but he didn’t even bother to get up. Wham! I got an almighty slap in the face from a well-muscled paw with sharp bits on the end. Ouch! Cats aren’t supposed to stick up for themselves like that.

Anyway, I’m thinking of taking my humans back to Polean Farm again next year. And when I do, I shall continue what I started this year. No, not my training. Cat training! Whenever I see Tom, I shall studiously ignore him. That’ll teach him!

Robin Mead booked his holiday through Marsdens Cornish Cottages (tel: 01503 289289). He stayed in Waggoners Cottage, on Polean Farm, which sleeps four and costs £386-£1,170 per week according to season. Dogs stay for £20 a week, and a package of three one-hour on-the-spot training classes for up to two pets can be booked at the same time as your holiday for an additional £50.

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