HAZEL Hulme has long been regarded as Saddleworth’s unofficial dog whisperer but now she has the certificate to prove it.
Hazel was “chuffed to bits” to receive her prestigious Kennel Club award at Crufts, which is recognised as the world’s greatest dog show.
“It was either go to Crufts or receive the certificate through the post,” she explained.
“There was only one option,” laughed the 63-year-old from Grotton after passing the KC Accredited Instructors’ Scheme, which is regarded as the UK’s leading membership scheme for dog training instructors.
It is also the first and only scheme to achieve programme accreditation from City & Guilds.
“Besides, it’s always good to go and have a nosy around,” she added of her latest trip to the dog world equivalent of Wembley.
Sadly for Hazel, disability prevents her taking a more active role in the famous canine show.
She has suffered with rheumatoid arthritis from the age of 14, a condition that also delayed her upgrade to KCAI scheme status – until now.
“I struggle to walk in a straight line,” she says self-deprecatingly. “So, while I am capable of doing certain things, I am not capable of doing it full time.”
But she remains a mainstay of the popular dog training centre on Chew Valley Road in Greenfield, helped by assistant, Harriet Grey.
Between 30-40 four-legged friends of various sizes, abilities and temperaments a session are put through their paces by Hazel and her fellow trainers.
She also owns three dogs: Badger the border collie plus mini schnauzers Meg and Tina.
Badger, 10, is a fully qualified assistance dog, trained by Hazel through the Dog A.I.D. charity to help her with basic daily tasks.
“I’m hoping Tina can be my next assistance dog as Badger is getting an old boy now,” she explained.
“But Dog A.I.D is so good at helping you teach your own pet to be an assistant dog. I’d recommend it to anyone with a disability.”