GROWING up, Susan Teh spent most of her free time helping her father care for his many show dogs.
They would travel together from their home in Teluk Intan, Perak, to participate in competitions held all over the country.
“My late father loved dogs, and he would rather get another dog than buy a car, so you can imagine how much time he put into caring for the dogs we had, ” said Teh.
Being the only one among her six siblings who was interested in her father’s hobby, Teh found herself being an accidental assistant on weekends.
“He would train the dogs in our backyard and we would join competitions on weekends, ” she said while explaining her tasks back then mainly involved carrying bags, dog food and combing the hair of their Australian Silky Terriers and German Shepherds before a competition.
Over the years, her father also took interest in making his own agility equipment for the dogs to practise at home.
When he retired, Teh continued her father’s hobby which became her own past-time.
She trains her own dogs on weekends and sometimes enters them in competitions.
Just before her retirement as an auditor, she started a club dedicated to dogs, which she fondly named Pet-n-You.
The club provides training activities from basic agility courses to obedience school, and recently included dance classes as well.
She runs the club with a group of volunteers and dog lovers in hopes of passing their knowledge to new owners on how to care for their pet dogs
“Owning a dog is a big commitment, as you need to spend quality time with them and create a special bond together, ” she said.
The club charges a minimal fee for its classes at YMCA Kuala Lumpur and Sunway Nexis in Kota Damansara, Petaling Jaya.
“Our instructors are all volunteers, and the fee collected is for us to construct the agility course, props for our classes and pay our rent at the two locations, ” said Teh.
Her classes usually start at 9am where she and a few volunteers would conduct a variety of lessons.
A typical class involves the trainers guiding and watching the dogs and their owners perform various tasks in the rally obedience session.
Occasionally they attract a few onlookers who stop to admire the dogs, and the humans are reminded not to distract the dogs during the ongoing training.
After an hour, Teh switches on her Bluetooth speaker and music streams out to mark the start of her next session – dancing with dogs.
Teh admitted that she was not musically trained and relied on one of her volunteers, who is a music teacher, for guidance.
“We all come from different backgrounds but we have the same passion and drive when it comes to dogs.
“In class, we help and teach each other too, ” she said, adding that she also picked up line dancing which she practised on weekdays to sharpen her dance skills.
Teh said there were tough days when the dogs did not want to participate in class.
“Sometimes they are just not interested in the activities or are too scared to move.
“Trainers have to put in extra effort to coax them and give them more time to familiarise themselves with the environment, ” she said, adding that dogs that had been strays were usually not good at socialising.
Besides teaching, Teh is also a Malaysian Kennel Association certified judge for rally obedience and dancing with dogs.
“My weekends are usually filled with dog-related events and activities, but I enjoy doing what I love, ” she said.
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