I am Jimmi Johnston-White, until 6 months ago I was normal, then I became Border Terrier Welfare Rep London and my life changed . . . for the better.
I am normally awake half an hour before my alarm clock, the first thing I do is reach for my “to do list”, review it and add anything else that might need doing during the day. The rest of that half hour is spent enjoying the silence of a sleeping house. The second that my alarm goes off my kitchen dogs, 4 Mini Wire Dachsies, 2 Tibetan Terriers and an Italian Greyhound start to sing, at this point the Saluki and I get out of bed. All of mine go out for toilets and I open up the grooming shed and kennel yard if there is a BTW dog in residence, there are normally one or two in my dining room as well so it is then there go for a turn around the lawn.
Quite a lot of the BTW dogs that I have in need some sort of behaviour work on them and this is done in short 5 minute bursts throughout the day, it is not unusual to see me doing the first session of the day in my pyjamas and slippers in the dew. All of the work that I do is reward based, firm, fair and fun.
Any dogs who are on medication usually get dosed up at this stage, my current favourite method of hiding tablets is spreadable cheese (there’s a good strong one they like).
Having managed to throw my first coffee of the day down my neck, get changed and answer any e-mails or facebook enquiries I start the dog walks. I only ever take four at a time and with the more challenging individuals quite often they will go out alone. By the time walks are all completed it is normally around 10am, time for a quick breakfast and a catch up with phone messages and any extra e-mails whilst enjoying a coffee and toast. I am amazed by the number of people who phone with questions or queries who will phone before 8am!
Most of the BTW dogs who come to Gioia Lodge spend their day loose with my own pack, many of them learning the manners that they haven’t grasped before. When all exercise is done most are happy to either play in the dog yard or go to sleep and between phone calls this is my chance to catch up on housework, prepare supper and slip in a couple of small training sessions.
After lunch we usually have a playtime on the lawn when the rope toys come out, with a mixed pack this does serve instead of an extra walk in the afternoon, allowing me time for a bit of grooming, nail trimming and teeth cleaning.
Prior to BTW I used to enjoy an hours sit down in the afternoon with either a book or the tv, those days are long gone now though, if we have an anti-social dog in I am out on another walk, we normally walk to a café or Pets at Home where they get the chance to meet all sorts of people and animals. They tend to wear a yellow “give me space” jacket to warn people of their arrival.
By this time it is time to start preparing their evening meals, an awful lot of our BTW dogs come in on unsuitable food, available from most shops it is full of additives and numbers . When they come to me they are transferred onto either Wainwrights or tinned Chappie with basic dog meal, their behaviour and attitude changes very quickly, many with itchy skin soon stop as well.
When dogs, cats, fish, budgie and guinea pigs are fed it is time to start thinking about us humans, whilst cooking again I find myself responding to the messages on the phone and internet. You wouldn’t believe the amount of times that the phone rings just as my first mouthful has hit my tongue.
We have a wide variety of phone calls, many are people wanting to adopt or find out more about the breed, some are people looking for advice on how to cope with their BT and then there are the sad calls from people who are looking to rehome, for many of these people we are their last hope, every tale is different and many are very sad, we really do try not to judge and ask our supporters not to, after all we have not walked that mile in their shoes!
After supper I settle the dogs down in their beds, be it kitchen, dining room, grooming shed or my bed, grab a quick shower catch up with friends and finally head to the land of nod.
I find my role very rewarding and it really wouldn’t be possible without the help and support of the other BTW Reps and committee members, our fabulous supporters, the adopters and this great little, cheeky, infuriating, comical, aloof and cuddly breed . . . Here’s to the Border Terrier!