Martha Brindley of Lugton, in Ayrshire, is the only Scottish entry of five in total, to The Kennel Club Accredited Instructor Scheme (KCAI) competition, to crown the KCAI Dog Trainer of the Year 2016.

Martha, a member of the West of Scotland Highland Cattle Club, was nominated for the award not just for her outstanding dog training skills, but for her volunteer work with the Blue Cross charity, which involved visiting schools to teach children how to be safe around dogs.

Martha has always had a love of dogs, her involvement in dog training goes back more than 40 years to when her grandmother owned a Boxer dog.

She says: “At the age of 14 I was handed the lead and instructed to take the dog to a local training class. This was the beginning of my love affair and passion for dogs and their welfare. I thoroughly enjoyed attending the classes and training this exuberant young pup.

“We went on regular walks, after school, and had lots of fun together. Another great love was when we went each summer to South Uist, my mother’s home, and I attempted to teach my uncle’s collie some basic commands. Unfortunately, the dog only understood Gaelic and I only spoke English. I quickly pestered my relatives for a crash course in the Gaelic language for canine commands, I also helped out, many years later, training young dogs for agility at a local training club.”

For her, the things she loves most about dog training is watching the bond grow between human and dog.

From the boisterous, young puppy to the lovely companion dog can be a long journey, but an incredibly rewarding journey.

Martha says: “I also love having children attend the class and having fun training their dogs. It is heart-warming to see our future dog owners learning to train dogs using positive reinforcement techniques and experiencing the joy of achieving their goals and expectations. I am fortunate to combine my love of dogs with my love of teaching children.”

She has been part of the KCAI scheme for around 10 years, gaining accreditation in Companion Dog and Good Citizen Dog Scheme.

She adds: “I enjoy being a member of the scheme and a small part of the Kennel Club organisation. I love the fact that there is so much information available and support for members of the scheme.

“Choosing the right dog trainer is vitally important for members of the public and the Kennel Club helps owners by assessing trainers against Kennel Club standards and having a Code of Practice which all members have to abide by. It also works across a wide range of canine activities and members have to keep up to date with continued professional development.

She considers one of her biggest achievements as competing in agility many years ago with Jack, her Lurcher.

He was a rescue dog from Greyhound Awareness League. Martha says: “We attended Olympia in 2005 as the ‘crowd pleaser’. Jack had his own style of running a course, back jumping, missing obstacles, running round the arena but at each performance he did a perfect 12 pole weave!

“He certainly pleased the crowd with his antics. I like to think he helped to promote Lurchers and greyhounds as pets. I also achieved The Kennel Club Gold Good Citizen Dog Scheme with Sam, my Whippet now deceased.

“He is one of only a few Whippets to have participated in agility and obedience also. Sam was also a Therapet and a Blue Cross education dog.”

Her work with dogs, doesn’t stop at training them. Martha adds: “My other passion is volunteering for the Blue Cross Charity. I visit schools with Gilly, my Whippet, and teach children safe approach to dogs and how to respect your pet.

“Last year more than 28,000 children were visited in Scotland and the North West. Children go home and tell their parents about the dog visiting their school and this leads to parental discussion and discussions with other family members.

“Hopefully this will lead to fewer attacks in the home by family pets. My other interest is helping people to source a puppy or rescue dog and how to avoid the pitfalls of puppy farms.”

Of course, Martha has her own dog who accompanies her on these trips, her six-year-old Whippet, Gilly. She adds: “His buddy, Sam, left us in November. Gilly is a perfect companion, he has achieved The Kennel Cub Good Citizen Dog Scheme Bronze award and is working towards his Silver.”

Martha concludes: “I am really excited about this nomination, and I would love to win to promote the amazing work that the Blue Cross charity carries out. I feel this is not just for the dog training, which is important as people know the problems that unsocialised dogs can bring, this is recognition of the charity work I do and the greater good it brings to the community and the fantastic educational resources that Blue Cross provides.”

To vote go to the link below and register a vote for Martha. Voting closes on January 30, 2017, and the winner will be announced at Crufts.