Rebecca Blakemore

Malpeet Dual Purpose Drug Detection Course by Rebecca Blakemore

I have always had a big interest in working with dogs and at 17 I decided to volunteer at my local pet dog training facility, Cosford dog training school. It was here that I was introduced to operate conditioning, using clicker techniques to develop dogs behaviour. I soon worked my way up to assistant trainer, teaching classes for obedience, agility, search work and competitions. I always enjoyed working with the more challenging dogs and find it very rewarding. I quickly realised I wanted to become a full time dog handler. I started to become more involved with working dogs and competed in working trials, which led me to move to Melton Mowbray where I began a career at the defence animal centre, my knowledge grew as did my motivation to progress and my desire to become a dog handler. It was at this stage I started to do my research.

I found Malpeet K9 Academy through recommendation. They had great reviews and catered for all my needs, including add-on courses for dog first aid and my SIA door supervisor licence. So I eagerly enrolled on a NASDU level 3 dual purpose drug detection course, with the option of purchasing a green dog, I couldn’t wait to get started. On day one of the course, I was nervous as to what to expect, but I soon relaxed when I met Simon Mallin and his team who were very polite and professional, with various backgrounds and an extensive amount of knowledge between them, they were very inviting and couldn’t help me enough. I also met Tam McNab an ex-military dog handler who had also enrolled on the same course. As we were shown around I was stunned by the accommodation, on-site facilities and surrounding landscape, and was pleased with my choice to come to Malpeet. We were quickly introduced to our four course dogs, three English springer spaniels and a Labrador. They each had very different personalities and it was very difficult for us to pick which dogs we wanted to start the course with. We were informed at the start that the instructors could move the dogs around, or the dogs may become ill and taken off the course, so it was suggested that we don’t get too attached to them, though it was very difficult to not fall in love straight away.

As the course developed, I learnt so much about the handling and training of my own drug detection dog. Everyday was a new experience that came with it’s own new challenges. We trained at many live venues, including shopping centres, colleges, town centres and public buildings, this made the training as realistic as possible, helping us to correct any issues we could possibly come across once we left to start our new careers. As the training progressed I quickly realised this was a challenging course, it was intensive with long days, hard daily routines, along with written assessments and practicals to prepare for, although we were supported all the way through. There were good and bad days but everyday was enjoyable and I felt positive towards the training. Some of the issues we encountered were a few dogs having environmental problems, which we quickly corrected and others being too young and immature to complete the whole course. These dogs were taken off the course and reassessed for future training. Luckily for me, I did keep one of the dogs the whole way through, a fifteen-month-old springer called Carrot, who was an absolute pleasure to work. He came with his bad habits as all dogs do but he was a fast learner and extremely intelligent, sometimes too clever for his own good.

Throughout the course we had a lot of guidance for our future, we had talks about becoming self-employed, how to promote ourselves and how to interact with the public. This really helped us get prepared and gave us the confidence to start our future by ourselves. Carrot and I passed as a NASDU qualified passive and proactive drug detection team in June 2015. I can’t wait to get into the industry and be able to start my new career with carrot by my side, and thanks to Malpeet, I am very confident and prepared for the new adventure. If you are looking for quality training with a friendly but professional atmosphere, then look no further, this is a course that keeps on giving!