Hello, and welcome to Joyful Paws !
My name is Joy Yeates (nee Harrison) and I have almost 30 years of experience of living with and handling dogs of all breeds, so please rest assured that you will be placing the care of your beloved dogs in very safe hands. I know the importance of dogs in our lives ~ they truly are our family ~ so yours will be treated with the same care as if they were my own.
Over the years, I have had the pleasure of living with 5 GSDs, 3 Terrier Crossbreeds, a Chihuahua, an Old Tyme Bulldog, an Italian Mastiff, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and a Dachschund-Cross, all of which but one were rescued. My first dog was a GSD called Cassie who I rescued when she was 1 year old, but I soon discovered she suffered with nervous aggression. I was very inexperienced at that time, but it was my yearning for knowledge to understand why she behaved the way that she did that put me on my path to learning about dog behaviour.
My craving for knowledge led me to study under the eminent behaviourists John Rogerson, Turid Rugaas and Sheila Harper, amongst others, which has given me not only an insight in how to train dogs using motivational, reward-based methods, but also an understanding of the incredible way that they communicate with both us and each other through their body language, using clearly defined Calming Signals.
I gained initial experience after attending a local pet dog training school with Cassie (which served to highlight her particular behavioural issues) and I was later invited to become one of their instructors. I instructed in their classes for 2 years before becoming involved with an associate of John Rogerson's, Dolores Palmer, who later assisted in helping me rehabilitating my second GSD, Saxon.
I rescued Saxon when he was 2 years old, as his original owners no longer wanted him because they had a baby on the way. They’d initially given him to the West Midlands Police Force to be trained as a police dog, but Saxon did not cope well and chewed off all of the fur from his tail, and would spin in circles endlessly due to the stress he’d been subjected to. After he was rejected by the police, his family sought to re-home him and so he came to live with me.
Saxon was a very complex dog with many serious behavioural problems, but he was the dog from whom I learned the most. Internationally renowned behaviourist John Rogerson personally described Saxon as being ‘a little bit mental’ after I’d consulted him for advice; an associate of his later worked with me to try and help resolve Saxon’s issues. Over time we became friends and it was she, together with John, who co-founded an organisation called Dog AID (Assistance In Disability).
For 10 years from the early 90s, I helped to establish Dog AID in becoming a registered charity, helping dog owners with physical disabilities to train their own pet dogs in basic commands, and in suitable cases to train them to become Assistance Dogs. In those early days with only the two of us working to get Dog AID up and running, I handled everything from editing/publishing their newsletter, designing & maintaining their first website, arranging publicity, fielding general enquiries and being the trainer for the Coventry area.
In addition, I also organised demonstrations at county shows the Town & Country Festival, Coventry and the Three Counties, Malvern, and at other smaller events. I trained and worked my own GSDs Cassie and, later on, Delta, at these demonstrations, showing the public how dogs could be trained to assist disabled owners. Delta was an incredible boy and performed in his first show when only 10 months of age, demonstrating the retrieval of objects by name, picking up dropped items such as leads, walking sticks & crutches, removing washing from washing machines, opening/closing doors, switching lights on/off, and helping owners remove their clothing, to name but a few exercises.
Once Dog AID achieved charitable status, I left and moved on to working with dog owners on a 1-2-1 basis, teaching basic training and helping them solve behavioural problems. Problems can often begin within the home environment, so I commence training there initially as it’s where both dog and owner already feel comfortable, before progressing to outdoor training and/or socialisation as may be required.
In between times, I attended agility with Cassie for fun, and dabbled in competition in both obedience and working trials, the civilian version of police dog work. My GSD's enjoyed the latter immensely, the nosework elements in particular ~ searching & tracking ~ because it was simply channelling their natural instincts. In fact, despite Saxon's numerous problems, with kind training he became a great tracking dog and was also very enthusiastic when it came to man work (chasing and catching 'criminals').
I'm involved with dog rescue too, and spent the latter months of 2016 working as the behaviourist for a local centre, whilst I am currently working with 'Forgotten Souls Rescue', helping rehabilitate and re-home Romanian street dogs.
My personal opinion is that because of immense over-breeding and the recent trend for ‘designer’ crossbreeds that there are far too many dogs in rescue kennels awaiting homes at present, and worse still, hundreds being euthanised due to lack of available homes.
Dogs seem to ‘find’ me when they need a home, and I’m a firm believer that everything that happens for a reason and so they’re where they’re meant to be, as happened with my all of my beloved dogs.
Finally, I'm also a Reiki practitioner, offering healing to both people and animals. Reiki is a universal healing energy which helps purge the body of negative impacts, helping bring it back into balance. Regardless of people's personal views as to whether or not Reiki works, it is now a recognised treatment by the NHS and patients are entitled to 2 free sessions whilst hospitalised, whilst animals just 'know' it works as they have no concept of any 'placebo' effect. I've personally found that it often has a very calming effect on them, and have experienced excitable dogs settling down quietly whilst treated.
My passion for helping dogs and their owners over the years eventually led to me to my decision to make it my life's work by creating 'Joyful Paws', so that I can dedicate my full attention to ensuring that I can help as many dogs and their owners as possible to live their lives in harmony together.
Offering professional, friendly, caring yet affordable assistance, I work with all breeds of dog of all ages, including rescues (Romanian street dogs & U.K.), Pit Bull types and other exempted dogs, and I very much look forward to working with you and yours.
Photos top to bottom are:- Me with friend's dog, Puffin, plus my own pack Bella, Cody & Sasha, & finally Baxter