The life of my Time

by | Jan 21, 2019

Time, g-g-g-grandson of Abacab

Time is my ninth generation of collies. He lives for being a collie and all that collies have done for generations – work in partnership and assist in what their Person likes to do. This ranges from collecting sheep off the mountain to toddling round the main ring at Crufts.

Whatever I ask of him he joins in with enthusiasm, often far too much, and is generous in his lack of criticism. Not all that I ask him to do is successful, but he would not ever stop trying and would shape my teaching to suit what he found enjoyable and repeat it thousands of times.

Today he is the same Time, he has just turned 10 years old, and he is a dog with cancer.

Late August I noticed him sneezed oddly, these were not clean sneezes. By early September he was diagnosed with an intra-nasal mass and we started the journey to seek borrowed Time.

We regularly travelled the A14 to Queens Veterinary School Hospital though September and October. If you know this road then you are aware of the uncertain nature of “travelled” as the journey could vary between 3-5 hours. Goodness, Cambridge residents are THE most tolerant for gridlock. I always planned the extra hours and got to know all the M&S sandwich stops.

The staff were some of the kindest, most enthusiastic and helpful I have met in the Veterinary business. In the midst of radiotherapy treatment, he decided his bladder should be re-positioned to a most unsuitable location. This was not related to the cancer or treatment but it required an emergency, (weekend of course) dash to Cambridge, critical care, and more surgery. Time became a campus celebrity learning to walk again with pink-hobbles. Even the workmen knew him. He had his own student for cuddling and intimate care and the team phoned my morning and evening with reports.

I learned a LOT about the time delay between assuming the position and load impact. When you become deeply invested in the digestive process a whole new world of texture, shape and content rolls into view. Between sneezing and peeing activities the XXL washing machine has been well tested.

Last weekend he competed in the Heelwork to Music semi-finals. He has been successful four times and gone on to compete in the main ring at Crufts.

This year, being there was everything.

He was not well enough to begin any rehearsal training until just before Christmas. Being well enough was due to all the Veterinary care at Cambridge and our local practice, Abbey Green at Broadway. Being well enough to recover step by step from 16 anaesthetics with that amazing strength of his to not leave me and give me more borrowed Time.

Cancer journeys are not the same, they are never easy and often a living nightmare. Our journey was an unexpected source of hope as my knowledge of canine cancer treatment was woefully poor. Without treatment I would have lost him last October.

For all those truly bad moments we had to go through, today I have another day to enjoy my Time.

The Conection Collective page is dedicated all the dogs, but especially Time, who I have been privileged to share a connection with:

Sadly, Time has gone forward on his journey without me.

Missed every day.

This is my best memory of Crufts.



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Key Reading

What Words Conceal

The language across all kinds of media paints a picture of dogs and our relationships with them.

Location is Their Cue

We begin teaching the dog to go to a target, such as a mat or platform and in this process our focus is on the outcome – the dog can place feet on the object or settle down. But at the same time this learning is happening the dog is also noting the location: where this is happening in this room, in the house, relative to the food-machine (you).

Cue Seeking is Connection

Connection is very individual and to be authentic we have to observe, slow down, understand our dogs and meet them where they are.

The Right Bed in the Right Spot

Resting and sleeping are not necessarily the same state. Good sleep where we feel safe and comfortable is important for us all.

Play Health Check

When we look at play or food delivery as an ACTIVITY we share the same mindset as the dog: is there pleasure to be experienced?

Since the Dawn of Dog Training

The old joke reminds us that the only thing dog trainers can agree on is that their training method in the best one. It becomes increasingly difficult to know which method is “right” and whether it will suit the dog, the situation and trainer’s skills.

Back to Basics?

The word “basic” is often derided as synonymous with “shallow,” but in its origins it is the very opposite: foundational, profound, supportive.

The Whole of The Dog

We cannot divide training into compartments of fast recalls, or sit for greeting, or loose leads as everything we ask of the dogs is interrelated.

Not Today and Not for My Sheepdogs

Standard protocols of extinction, impulse control, counterconditioning are quickly grabbed off the shelf as satisfactory solutions. These solutions are unlikely to help your collie, your sheepdog as the focus is heavily on suppression of who they are and why they live.

Do you see what I see

Doing better is the reward from doing the work. This work needs to be the right work at the right time with the right intent done in the right way.

Top Training

Evidence of learning

When we use the words “teach” or “train” child, person or dog, the operative term implies that the process is under the ownership of the teacher or trainer. What your teacher thinks you have learned may not be what you actually learned.

One dog watching

The other dog working
or ….how to train the spectators to quietly rest and watch whilst you work, play, teach a single member of the group

The Power of Passive Learning

Active learning: the learner takes active choice of what to do, how to respond, is attentive and making conscious effort
Passive learning: little conscious effort, reward is delivered for minimum effort.

A Day of Learning

A no-training day does not mean he gets a lazy day lying idly in the sun. Learning is still happening and this is significant and important for his development.

Surprising Puppy

Surprising Puppy. With obnoxious moments. After introducing the obnoxious puppy as a youngster I am knocked over by the Delightful Young Man he is turning into……

Obnoxious Puppy

The delight of your new puppy is probably going to last a few weeks, maybe four if you are lucky. When 12 weeks old hits, and you will feel a slam, the Delight is going to demonstrate ungrateful, obnoxious traits.


Preparing before you train and the final check list

More than words

We expect our dogs to understand the meaning of words and signals, but if you have ever worked with computers you will know that what you say doesn’t always turn into an actionable response.

Not all lures contain food

“the direct use of the reinforcer to elicit the behaviour”
This should always be foremost in our mind, in that many alternatives lures are available.

Remote lures

Lures at a distance, separated from hands, pockets . Using reward stations, patterns, containers


  1. Shirley Kenway

    I am so sorry to hear of this. Im so glad he has more TIME to spend with you.
    I loved this routine and when you performed together it always made the hairs stand up.
    However , whenever I think of him whether it be hom saying hello to people in the barn or demonstrating to pupils, what stands out to me along with the obvious connection is his absolute HAPPINESS at performing. I try always to.remember that and although we dont perfprm in public i try to ensure that whatever I and Fleck do we do it because we both enjoy it and NOT because IWant it.

    Time you are truly a dog in a million . HAPPY BOY .

    • Kay Laurence

      Thank you Shirley. He has become the very devil saying hello to everyone since Vet hospital, but whatever makes him happy !

  2. Michele Pouliot

    Oh my, such sad news to hear Kay. Time is an incredible dog and he has flourished in life with you as a partner.
    Isn’t is wonderful to have such emotional performance memories forever on video to relive anytime we feel the urge.
    He looks great after coming through treatment.
    Give him a toy toss for me,

    • Kay Laurence

      Thanks Michele, I know you know. He is becoming an habitual lapdog, a big one mind you!

      • Michele

        Such a hard time when we know our time with them is short. Thinking of you.

  3. Iris Maxfield

    What a lovely tribute to a wonderful friend, he looks so happy and obviously feels the love you both share.
    I had no idea that is why the connection collective happened, but I feel even more privileged now to have been part of it.

    • Kay Laurence

      Thanks Iris – I hope we go on building this collection. There are times when we all need it.

  4. Tamara

    I remember feeling very honoured to be greeted by Time when we were introduced at Crufts a few years ago. Your relationship if very special – a real pleasure to observe always. This tribute is something to treasure – thank you for sharing it. My love to you both.

    • Kay Laurence

      Thank you Tamara

  5. Heather Binns

    So sorry to read this Kay. What an ordeal you have both been through. I’m so glad he is doing well and that you have more Time.

    • Kay Laurence

      Thanks Heather, connection to our family is not animal specific.

  6. Julie

    I’m so sorry to hear about what you have both been going through. He is a fabulous dog and, as the video shows, still enjoying his life with charm and ease. I hope your borrowed Time continues for a long Time.

    • Kay Laurence

      Thanks Julie

  7. Sally Smith

    The musical interpretation and working partnership in your Crufts routine is spell binding.
    The strong connection between you and Time is beautiful. What a wonderful memory, thank you for sharing.

    • Kay Laurence

      Thank you Sally. I sometimes wonder the benefits of putting ourselves and our dogs through the “special” conditions that contirbute to Crufts, but for me, it is the chance, as you say, to be able to share what we have and can enjoy with a wonderful dog to a wide audience.
      … and he does show up well on that lovely green faux-turf!

  8. Chris Bond

    So glad you captured Time’s superb performance at Crufts. A memory to cherish. He’s an incredible lad to recover so quickly and have the spirit to continue his dance. Time is only what we have in the moment. Connection gives us the strength to face the difficult moments, and makes the good moments immensely more enjoyable. Wishing you many, many more cherished moments with Time.

    • Kay Laurence

      Thank you Chris.

  9. Katherine Bartlett

    Hi Kay,

    I am so sad to read about Time’s passing. I loved seeing the two of you together. You knew each other so well and I could see it in every interaction. He was lucky to have you and you were lucky to have him. I hope you feel he’s with you always.


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