Joy Knighton-Fitt


Occupation:  Clinical Nurse Practitioner, University of Cape Town, Student Wellness Service,

Family:  I have one son, named CHARLES


Our Dogs:  We have two Golden Retrievers – “Hum-animals”

TAO our male, born 27 April 2005 & BREEZER, our female born 13 December 2005


My Dog Experience, Training and Thinking Story:


I am a nature-, dog – and animal lover, since before i was born!

I grew up with dogs of all kinds. My parents bred Airedales. A close British family friend was an International Breed judge in the United Kingdom & Europe also judged at CRUFTS. My uncle bred and showed Irish Terriers. During my years growing up we had the following dogs: Airedales, an Irish Terrier, a beautiful, cross Bulldog-Boxer who had the best features of both breeds, an English Cocker Spaniel, a Bull-Dog…

We also homed two strays, an Irish Setter, and a cross Border Collie.

None of these dogs were trained formally / consciously and they were, what was then known as ‘family pets’.

In later years my own family had Labradors, several of them, and a ‘Mannenberg Special’ Rough Collie.

My first interest in training arose some 27 years ago before my son, Charles was born.

I was so impressed with the looks and intelligence of one of our Labradors that i thought “i must take him for training”.

I found a trainer who offered obedience lessons on the Rondebosch Common. We attended a few lessons. I was convinced (aren’t we all J) that our Yellow Labrador named Jupiter, was just the finest specimen. I decided to enter him in a Breed competition…quite sure that he would take first prize! He didn’t. I had next to no knowledge of the competitive dog world and this was my first introduction to the “serious doggy-people’s world”.

There came a time in my life when my son was 5 years old, that i was able to acquire, for the first time ever, the kind of breed that I loved.

Enter the Golden Retriever. After some serious searching we collected our puppy when he was just 8 weeks old. Later we acquired a female puppy and subsequently bred with them.

We kept one of the litter, so then we had three…more than a handful!

…and why?…still no conscious – formal training!

Some 13 years later, each of them died, all in the space of 5 months. This left a cold void in our family home.

And yes… “Dogs are not our whole life, but they certainly do make our lives whole”  (Roger Caras) J.


We decided during many months of mourning our three, that we wanted a second GR family.

After a long search of approximately 14 months we went to collect our 8 week old male puppy whom we named TAO. This time around i was really serious about making more of our ‘pets’. I discovered the CPDC.

When TAO was 11 weeks old we ventured out to enquire what the CPDC could offer us. He had never left our home grounds. I thought it important that he first have all his ‘shots’. That was almost eight years ago now.

As we approached the club from the tennis court side a “huge” dog came rushing at the fence barking furiously at TAO. My little pup was terrified and he tried to reverse and drag me back to the car. I looked at all the people at the other end of the field …and the distance ! I nearly turned back thinking ” Oh no, can’t do this! This is nothing like the little group we had on the common years ago! “


Well, I am so glad we did not turn back. It was the start of learning about what constructive bonding with your dog can yield.

And every day there is still so much to discover.

The puppy training at the club has evolved so much during the past few years, and today, I believe, is an excellent example of sound progress in puppy training methodology.


Some seven months after getting TAO, we collected our female GR whom we named BREEZER.

Needless to say we also trained her at the CPDC.

Oh how I wish I had learned about obedience training and become a trainer, long before my son was born!

So many of the skills used in Dog Training are transferable, for example, positive re-enforcement,identifying & developing drives (passions), building on strengths, consistent application and much more.

 However, it is never ever too late. J

I have trained TAO and BREEZER in obedience through all four levels at CPDC.

Both TAO & BREEZER love Agility, Dog Jumping and Flyball & partake in charity displays from time to time (for the CPDC & the Dog Jumping Fraternity) for educational and fun events.

BREEZER is my soul. She is a one of a kind Golden Retriever, like no other I have known.



Flyball is a crazy fast-paced team dog sport.

If you have a dog who has a strong ball drive, give Flyball a try.

It does take a huge amount of commitment however, but is extremely rewarding.


BREEZER is crazy about FLYBALL.

She was a member of the winning Flyball team “Raring to Go” at the Cape Town WODAC EXPO 2010.

As at August 2013 BREEZER  is still the only purebred GR to have obtained the KUSA Flyball titles of

FB DOG EXCELLENT, FB CHAMPION, FB GRAND CHAMPION and now finally in February 2013

she obtained the top Flyball Title of “THE ONE & ONLY”.

GRs in general are not competitively-driven enough to do this sport, however, as I say, she is one of a kind. Perhaps she gets her competitive nature form her breeder, Mark Boucher J. TAO who is more scent driven & a more ‘typical ‘Golden, is very different in temperament, and has just got the hang of Flyball.

For more info on Flyball, go to




It is not just a brag, not just a stepping stone to a higher Title,

not just an adjunct to competitive scores.
A Title is a tribute to the dog that bears it,

a way to honour the dog,

an ultimate memorial.
It will remain in the record and in the memory

for about as long as anything in this world can remain.
Few humans will do as well or better in that regard.

And though the dog himself doesn’t

know or care that his achievements have been noted,

a Title says many things in the world of humans,

where such things count.

A Title says your dog was

intelligent, and adaptable, and good-natured.

It says that your dog loved you enough

to do the things that please you, however crazy they may have sometimes seemed.
And a Title says that you loved your dog,

that you loved to spend time with him

because he was a good dog, and
that you believed in him enough to give him

yet another chance when he failed,

and that in the end your faith was justified.

A Title proves that your dog inspired you to have

that special relationship enjoyed by so few;

that in a world of disposable creatures,

this dog with a Title was greatly loved, and loved greatly in return.
And when that dear short life is over,

the Title remains as a memorial of the finest kind,

the best you can give to a deserving friend,

volumes of praise

in one small set of initials before or after the name.
A Title is nothing less than love and respect,

given and received


Author unknown


The CPDC has an extensive library which is a valuable resource for members and Instructors alike.

My best read is by Susan Garrett’s  “SHAPING SUCCESS” . This book covers everything, from obedience to agility and many areas of problem solving. The author’s acronym, D.A.S.H. has become a useful reference in my personal journey as a  Dog  Handler – Instructor .

Nothing comes close to working together with your dog in a sport such as Agility, Dancing, Dog Jumping or Flyball for developing enhanced levels of self- and dog- awareness and bonding. The more you do with your dog the more you learn and grow together.


In 2011 I embarked on the CPDC Agility Instructors course and qualified as an Agility Instructor in June 2012.

I am ever grateful to all of the dedicated and talented Instructors at CPDC and other clubs,

who have contributed to my rewarding and valuable Dog-Training-Thinking-Journey.

“The greatness of a nation (and I believe, an individual)

and its moral progress can be can be judged

by the way its animals are treated.”

Mahatma Gandhi