A new challenge
In July 2004 Kat Nicholl graduated from university, and left Northern Ireland to emigrate to the Netherlands and live with her Dutch partner. Perhaps the hardest thing to leave was her Border collie Meg, but unfortunately due to co-ownership she couldnít take the dog with her. It was very difficult to not have a dog for companionship or to train and compete with, so she found a dog training school in the city where she lives that trains a wide range of dog sports including agility.
Now that I live here I have become a fully integrated Dutchie - at least thatís the plan if Iím not exiled by the immigration service as I appear to have been branded as an 'illegal alien!'
Some of the names of the agility equipment are weird and wonderful, too. The dogwalk, for example, translates to catwalk. Of course, you have the standard Border collies, but it is also lovely to see a wider variety of other breeds including some true Dutch breeds like the Dutch shepherd or the Schapendoes. Try pronounce that when you have had a few to drink... Shhkapenduz or something like that.
Within the next few weeks I am going to start instructing English style competitive Obedience at the school, which should prove to be interesting when Iím learning the names of the different exercises in Dutch. As long as I donít say any swear words by mistake then thatís fine!
Meg is a dog in a million, and she has taught Kat all that she knows and taken her to places that she could only dream off. Crufts 2004 was especially very memorable as they represented N. Ireland in the Obedience world cup and were placed third overall which was more than they had hoped to achieve. That day Meg looked at the thousands of people seated around the main ring and was overwhelmed just like her handler. They reassured each other and again Meg tried her best. She fuelled Kat's passion for behaviour and through being more involved in the canine scene, she changed from doing a Veterinary nursing course to doing Zoology.
Kat graduated in July 2004 from Queens University of Belfast with a BSc. Honours degree in Zoology majoring in canine behaviour. Her thesis involved studying social behaviour in groups of Border collies and will be published next year.
She now lives in the Netherlands with her boyfriend Sander and is running her own canine behaviour and training business. She loves living here but enjoys getting back to N. Ireland every few months to see her dog, family and friends - all in that order!