For more than three decades, Gattonside resident Trudy Davison has devoted her life to dogs and working with their owners to help them understand their canine charges better.
Trudy, who runs the Dryburgh Abbey Dog Training Group, is a veteran of countless dog agility contests and dog shows, and has been a regular competitior at the greatest dog show of all, Crufts.
This Sunday, she will once again host a popular fun dog agility event at Thirlestane Castle, at Lauder, where she works as a tour guide.
But looking back on a career that has involved countless thousands of dogs and their owners, agility events and dog shows, she says, sadly, she no longer thinks Britain can lay claim to its title as a nation of animal lovers.
“No I don’t think we can, or we wouldn’t have so many rescues overflowing with unwanted and abused animals,” she told TheSouthern.
“We now have the situation where people are actually breeding collies for agility competitions. Yet, you can go to any rescue centre and find a dog that you can train to compete in agility events.
“It is not about winning and beating other people, it is about a person and their dog working together in harmony – that’s the great thing to see and that’s what people will see if they come to Thirlestane on Sunday.”
A native of London who is on her second spell of living in the Borders, Trudy and all her family have had dogs at the centre of their lives.
Today husband Colin both judges at events, as well as running two of the couple’s nine dogs, in agility events.
“Of our nine dogs, all but two came from rescue and of the nine, six do agility,” Trudy told us.
“It was never intended that so many of them would end up staying with us, but they just did and they’re a wonderful, crazy bunch.”
Both son, Richard, and daughter, Robyn, were also involved with dogs and dog training from a very earlier age. Richard took the accolade of Scotland’s top agility handler while still a schoolboy, while Robyn has represented Scotland and worked in dog rescue.
“Dog agility is now the biggest participation sport in the world and it’s growing all the time,” said Trudy, who, during her Crufts showing career, worked with breeds as diverse as English setters and Tibetan terriers.
“You can go to a rescue centre and take a dog, work with it, help it develop confidence and trust in people again, and as well as the satisfaction of doing that, the competitions are great fun and there’s a super social side as well.
“At the end of the day, the dog you take to the competition is still the same pet you take home with you at the end of it.”
Trudy, who also teaches dog obedience, says most of the problems she encounters between owners and their animals is resolved with a healthy dose of commonsense.
“That’s often all it needs,” she said.
The Thirlestane event will feature agility classes only, with more than 100 people and their dogs already entered in the sections ranging from grade one to seven.
Trudy added: “The event is staged in the dressage area next to the castle and it’s the perfect venue.
“As well as the competition classes, there will be stands and cratfts and it will be fingers crossed for some more of this nice late summer weather we’ve been enjoying lately!”