Dr Sophia Yin’s Tour

Dr Sophia Yin’s NZ Tour 2012

Since arriving Sophia has visited One Tree Hill in Greenlane.  We drove up to the top of the hill where sheep and their lambs were wandering around and gave many opportunities for taking great shots.

At the top of the hill, Sophia was able to Auckland from the far west through to far south…in-between heavy rain clouds.  We stopped to take some close-ups of the parks animals including two chickens that are not co-habitating with the parks flock of pigeons.  As well as taking a photo of the local doggie doo bins that are spotted around the park.  Many of the spring flowers had bloomed and gave a good backdrop for the wedding that we drove past having their photos taken next to the parks resident cattle. It was a great day of talking about dogs and visiting organisations that rely on dogs to complete their work, which was so much fun.

Thursday started with an unexpected tiki tour of west and central Auckland whilst trying to make our way to Gulf Harbour to catch the ferry to Tiritiri Matangi.  The weather was not the best for the trip, as shortly after we arrived at Tiri it poured with rain.  Even so, it was an awesome day of finding many of the endangered birds of NZ whilst walking from the jetty through the Wattle track and eventually leading to the cafe at the lighthouse. Whilst at the cafe next to the lighthouse, the Takahe came over to investigate the people sitting at the picnic tables.  It was a great photo opportunity for everyone.


Friday through to Sunday was the seminar days where attendees came from around New Zealand.  Learning About Dogs events are not for one group of people they are anyone that is involved with handling and training of animals.  On this occassion we had dog trainers, animal control, vets, vets nurses, PhD students, psychologist to name a few roles.  The networking opportunity whilst learning, and watching Dr Sophia take handling sessions was phenomenal with lots of new contacts made and positive feedback throughout the weekend.  The handling sessions gave an insight into how Sophia trains Learn to Earn, and showed the rapid response from the demonstration dogs that were used.

On Monday we traveled to West Auckland to watch Teresa Borrell run through of her gun dog training techniques.  Teresa uses positive training methods for her dogs which all of us attending were thrilled to hear about. After West Auckland we then traveled to the airport for a visit to the MPI Dog Detection unit.  Allan Willox showed us some new recruits in training and explained how they train the airport dogs for locating of foodstuffs and other items that people attempt to smuggle in.

Teresa has attended several of Learning About Dogs events and Teresa explained how she learns different techniques from each speaker and how she applies it into her training of Gun Dogs for hunting and competing in the many competitions around the country.

Then onto Guide Dog Services where Denise Ireland took us around the various units within this organisation in South Auckland.  Obviously the best unit is always the ones with puppies in, and this visit was no exception.  There was one litter in the unit which we were privileged to be able to hold for this photo opportunity.  More information about Guide Dog Services and how you are able to support this organisation.

Then we drove down to Hamilton for the night, ready for the next day where Sophia visited Waikato University.  Sophia was taken by Clare Browne who is currently undertaking a PhD relating to the timing of a dog completing a behaviour correctly and being rewarded, to attend Clare’s lecture and be shown around the university’s training facility, as well as Hamilton gardens.

On Wednesday, Sophia ventured into Waitomo Caves for an experience of a lifetime and see the wonderful NZ glow worms.  It was a 5 hour trip which was undertaken in wet suits and gum boots!  After Sophia had warmed up with soup supplied by the black water rafting company, we drove to Otorohonga and visited the Kiwi House and Native Bird Park.  This gave Sophia to see a captive kiwi wandering around in their dark enclosure.  There was also the Kaka, Kea, teal duck and Whio for viewing, but sometimes the native ducks were hard to pick out of the numerous common ducks that take the opportunity to land on the water ways throughout this park.  It was a great visit and they do exceptional work in helping to rehabilitate or house native birds that have been injured for either releasing or remaining with them for their own safety.  Recommended place to visit.

Thursday started out with an early drive up to Auckland to catch a flight to Palmerston North.  Whilst waiting for the boarding call, we met up with Rachel from Novartis.  We were all chatting so much we missed the final boarding call, and on hearing our names paged we ran to the gate in preparation for boarding.  Sophia had to plead her case to take her hand luggage and eventually we boarded the aircraft.  We were met at the airport by Rachael Stratton, from Massey where we were taken to our hotel and then onto Massey University to prepare for the afternoon and evening lectures.  What an exceptional turn out by the veterinary and veterinary nurse students. The seminar ran late into the evening with us eventually leaving Massey around 10:30.

Friday was an early start that took us to Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin!  After leaving Palmerston at 7:00am we arrived in Dunedin at 2:30pm.  Krystal Kelly met us and took us to drop our bags off at the hotel, and then onto Otago Polytechnic to set up in preparation for the cat seminar that evening, and the two day seminar over the weekend. What a great time during the seminar at Otago Polytech.

The facilities were close to the hotel so it was a leisurely walk down to the training room each day.  Sophia went for a run each morning along the river bank and around the area we were staying, which was close to the new stadium or Cake Tin!  The Dunedin attendees were fabulous with lots of interaction during the session, and the dogs handling sessions were stunning.  It was great to meet so many people from the South Island that are interested in reviewing their training techniques and take on some that Sophia spoke about.

This was an awesome two weeks with Sophia Yin who works hard both in and out of the seminars and I am sure needed to go home for a rest after a further two seminars in Australia.  There wasn’t very much down time for her, so I am sure that the next time Sophia comes down to NZ, she will probably come for a little longer than a week and a half.

Thanks Sophia for the excellent seminars in Auckand, Massey and Dunedin, and look forward to catching up with you sometime in the future.