Ich bin Robbie Introduction of the site owner

Hi! Ich bin Josh!

 
   
 

 
Somehow, everything on this homepage is about dogs.  So that everybody knows who this site-owner and dog handler is who puts her thoughts and opinions on the Internet, I would now like to introduce myself.
 
   
 

1. Dates and facts

Name: Dr. Andrea Felnémeti
Born: 20.08.1953 in Budapest (Hungary)
Siblings: A sister who has designed and managed these pages superbly. Anybody who wants to know more about her should visit her site at http://www.jet4fun.net/.
Marital status: Widow
 
Profession: Clinical psychologist, health psychologist and psychotherapist.
Employment: Main job in the Psychological Student Advisory Centre, Klagenfurt, and also own practice as Psychotherapist, Teaching Therapist, Supervisor and University Lecturer.
Hobbies: Reading, travelling, sport, parlour games and, of course, dogs.
Recreational pastimes: 

 

Everything possible which is connected with dogs.
I am mainly occupied with my dogs. In addition, I am active as a trainer of puppies and young dogs at the ÖGV (a dog training club) in Klagenfurt. Unfortunately, I don't have much time for the other hobbies at the moment!
2. On my development in the field of canine sports

It was in 1992 that I actually got my "own" dog and that was Josh. I had always loved animals  - especially dogs - and had earlier been a keen horse rider. However, at that time, the arrival of a dog was very inconvenient. We had just bought an old, long-uninhabited house and were busy renovating it while we were actually living in it. In addition, I was working a lot to earn the money for my part of the house. So, I was rather stressed. However, after a long stay with his family in England, Jeremy wanted to bring a Border Collie back with him because his family had always had Border Collies and now, as we owned a house with a garden, there was room for one.

For the first year, Josh probably thought of me as a sheep which he had to herd and keep busy. Jeremy - who was at home all day - was his boss and responsible for his basic training. At one year old, life became serious for Josh and the dog school beckoned. However, as often happens, I took on this work and what followed. At the beginning, I thought that the trainers knew what they were telling us in their parade ground voices but I soon became sceptical because I noticed that some things were psychologically incorrect. Thank goodness, Jeremy had done his work well in the first year so that we passed the BGH 1 (Companion Dog) exam - in spite of the training at the dog school!

Then, for the first time, I saw an Agility demonstration at an international dog show in Klagenfurt. Josh saw it as well and went crazy. That should have warned me, but no, I began agility training at another club when he was nearly 2 years old. Unfortunately, a lot went wrong there. Agility was still very new in Austria and also the trainers had no experience of Border Collies. Our trainer was very nice and tried hard but she had never done agility with her own dog and, as everybody knows, Border Collies learn very quickly - especially mistakes!!

Albin Birkl saw me at a competition and must have had sympathy with my amateurish endeavours. He was the first one who gave me proper training tips and made me aware for the first time of body language. Many thanks to him!

As the training time was much too short at the club I was in at that time, I changed clubs again and landed at the ÖGV where I still am.

Klick mich und ich werde groß...

I was then in a small group of keen agility fans. We travelled together to training and countless tournaments, supported, consoled and corrected one another. That was a really great time. Incidentally, we still meet, although just for skiing, playing cards etc.!

Klick mich und ich werde groß...

Of prime importance for me was something said to me by Tjasa Gregoric, a very experienced dog owner and trainer. We were training at her place in Ljubljana. I gave her my card so that she could get in touch with me about when we could come training again. As I did this, she said - words to the effect that - "I don't know what you want from me. You know everything which you need to know, you just have to apply it. After all, you're a psychologist!".

Klick mich und ich werde groß...

 

Klick mich und ich werde groß...

   
 

Klick mich und ich werde groß...

That remark stayed with me. It was true. At university, I had heard so much about teaching, learning and training. I now just had to sit down and go into the thought processes of a - or my - dog and adapt the training to him. From then on, I began to approach this subject from the point of view of a psychologist, and I think that this gave me a lot. Between 1996 and 1998 I taught Josh everything he needed to pass the FH 1 (Tracking) to FH 3, and GH 1 (Obedience) to GH 3 exams. That was not just my training skill. For me, Josh is the most intelligent and wisest of all dogs. All this training was done as a sideline because agility was the main thing. Over time, I have been able to improve a lot of things but I have never managed to rid Josh of his compulsion in agility. He didn't even become quieter as he got older. Agility was the centre of his world. He was probably the fastest dog but, correspondingly, mistakes always occurred. He couldn't be slowed down and neither could I. For years I was told that I must run faster and turn faster etc. I tried, and became faster - but so did Josh. Then, for the first time, Mario Bonetti told me that I shouldn't compete against Josh, i.e. I must be slower and better coordinated. However, due to habit, that was very difficult for me to do in tournaments.

I stopped doing agility with Josh in 2000 and, since then, I've just done obedience with him. With agility there is the danger of injuries for him because he can't reduce his speed and, after an injury, he cannot be trained up again slowly. He is simply a workaholic.

I learned a lot with Josh. I have got to know, learned and done various types of dog sport, and - maybe - how a dog thinks. Josh is generous. He has coped with my mistakes, never borne a grudge, and has let himself be retrained in many aspects. The important thing for him was that I worked with him.

However, I also read a lot, took a lot of training courses with various trainers and, in accordance with what St. Paul said - "Test everything and keep the best" - I've extracted this and that, tried it and implemented it. I observe a lot and analyse some. It became clear to me how some dogs who are super in training, fail in tournaments again and again. As a psychologist who has run mental training courses, it quickly became clear to me that it was not that more agility training was needed but that many dog handlers needed mental training. So, I adapted my notes and ran mental training courses for dog handlers. Unfortunately, in dog sports - as in some other sports areas - the emphasis was laid on ever more and better sport training instead of admitting that the problems in competition often lie in the mind.

After a while, the wish grew in me to have a second Border Collie - but this time, my own. The desire had already been there for some time but I kept postponing its fulfilment because I wanted the time to be right. In the meantime, I became a trainer of puppies and young dogs and learnt a lot from that. It was clear to me that I would need a lot of time for the second dog, so I didn't want to get him while Josh was in full training. Today, I am very glad that I did it like I did. I spent a lot of time searching for suitable dogs and for breeders whose methods corresponded with mine. Josh was nearly 9 when Robbie came. With Josh I then only needed to do "maintenance training", so I could devote most of my time to Robbie. I even reduced my working hours so as to spend more time with Josh and Robbie. Of course, Robbie is a totally different type of dog from Josh and, therefore, a new challenge. I definitely did not want a working dog like Josh - that would have been too much for me.

I play a lot with them and teach Robbie a lot through play. He has already passed the BGH (companion dog) 1 and BGH 2 exams as well as GH (Obedience) 1,2 and 3.
I'm still doing obedience training but in summer 2004 I also started with agilty training. Let's see how well we'll do in this field.

From psychology I have learned a lot about working with dogs, but my psychology work has also profited from the dogs! Many of my clients know Josh and Robbie. Through his empathic nature and his calmness when he is with me in my office, (that's holiday for him, not work!), Josh has cured several dog phobias. Also, I sometimes use examples of dog behaviour as metaphors, whereby situations can somehow be explained more simply and also more clearly.

As you can see, dogs make up a major part of my life at the moment. So, anybody who wants to talk to me about something else should not, out of politeness, raise the subject of dogs because they will never be able to get back to their original subject! However, on this Website the subject is dogs and still more dogs...

 
       
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