Monday, 17 January 2011

ROY HUNTER - THE LEGEND

I just had to bring you this lovely tribute from Gail Gwesyn-Pryce...


Roy Hunter died on December 23rd 2010 aged 82 years, peacefully with his devoted wife Lois by his side. Many people reading this will have not only known Roy but have been inspired by him and started their dog training careers through his motivation, whether that be as a handler, instructor or pet owner. But for those of you who may not have heard of him let me enlighten you.

Roy's first dog training experience was in the army when a camp dog kept everyone awake at night barking and all day sleeping off its night time activities. Roy decided that something needed to be done so everyone could get a good nights sleep and set about instructing the men to change the dogs routine. Within a couple of days the problem was sorted and the seed was set. After ten years of service and still only 25 years of age Roy applied for one of three posts on offer with the Metropolitan Police.
He rose in the ranks & entered the dog section, he was allocated one of the first Rottweilers in the country (and yes, it had a tail!) imported from Germany, called Abelard they went on to become top of his division averaging 30 arrests annually. Roy was promoted to training instructor and then deputy head trainer at Keston. Roy served in the Met for 26 years rising to inspector and was given total responsibility for the Mets 365 dogs. Whilst with the Met he bought agility to the UK, introducing it into the police championships and a demonstration at Crufts. He also held the very first agility competition in this country for the Rottweiler Club at his home.
Not satisfied with Agility as a first he also bought us FlyMouse, an adaptation of Fly Ball. Being very conscience of the fact that large dogs could swallow tennis balls a sausage shaped stuffed toy which he called a Magic Mouse was used instead. This activity was being used in this country long before Fly Ball caught on. Roy loved the USA and travelled there every year giving courses and lectures, indeed he believed he was a reincarnated native American. From his trips abroad he then bought instructors from the states to delight us here, the likes of Ian Dunbar, Gail Tamases Fisher and Terry Ryan to name a few. He also traveled to Japan and India and delegates from those countries followed him here, I was fortunate enough to meet Jimmy Barucha whilst teaching on one of the courses over here.
I felt very honoured when I was asked to be one of his assistants on his courses (around the mid eighties) at the University of East Anglia and later Caythorpe College where we would spend a wonderful week with our dogs doing a variety of different disciplines but mostly having fun. Roy was the father of kind dog training and it was a wonderful feeling to find that I could at last chuck my choke chain, which I never felt happy about, for reward based training methods – Roy always said that God gave us hands to love dogs with not to abuse them.
Roy started a civilian dog training club at Wood Green in the early seventies with all the proceeds going to charity then moving to Essex and started Abelard Canine Academy promoting his ‘kind’ reward based training methods. He started ‘Road Safety Tests’ long before the Kennel Clubs Good Citizen Scheme. Through his strong links with the USA (teaching in 50 states) he created Anglo American Dog Trainers and wrote quarterly newsletters entitled ‘Working Happiness’ which were full of lots of stories and advice of his own and those collected around the world.
Roy was an advanced instructor of the British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers, a Home Office Accredited Police Dog Training Instructor, a founder member of the UK Registry of Canine Behaviourists and was in at the formation of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers – declining to be on the first committee as Roy firmly believed that the best committee was the committee of one – a philosophy I too have carried on! He strongly believed that you could not function as a dog training instructor without a sound knowledge of behavior (he likes to be called an Attitude Adjuster not a Behaviour Therapist) or indeed a behavior counsellor without a sound knowledge of training plus a high on hands knowledge of competitive work – namely civilian working trials. He competed in Working Trials with his second Abelard, another Rottie and then his German Shepherd Tammy (named after Tammy Winnette his favourite Country and Western artist).
Never one to be idle in his life he was a keen boxer when in the army, loved Karate and swimming as well as an accomplished dancer and even when Roy suffered a stroke some years ago he still managed to help people who visited the house or telephoned for assistance and raising money for charities such as Guide Dogs for the Blind and Dog Aid.
He was author of several books including Fun Nosework for Dogs, Fun and Games for Dogs and More Fun and Games for Dogs and delighted people with the tricks he taught his last dog Tim, his last GSD who featured in the illustrations.
I don’t know where Roy will be reincarnated to next but I am sure it will have something to do with dogs, but whatever it is the adventure has just begun. The legend will only die if we fail to remember.
GAIL GWESYN-PRYCE.
Mid Wales Dog Training.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A wonderful feature! it makes me feel I almost know him. The world need more like him, we would have less dogs with attitude and more responsible owners.

Mrs. M Palmer.