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Trailblazer gets dogs on track

ONE MAN AND HIS DOG: Nathan Lewis with dog Wapi

AT ONLY 24 Nathan Lewis is already a trailblazer, being the first black civilian to be recruited to help train animals for the British Police and Services Canine Association (BPCSA) which includes animals used in the Ministry of Defence, the Royal Air Force, the prison service and HM Customs & Excise.

But this extraordinary feat comes as no surprise to those who know him for he’s been training dogs since he could walk. Nathan will modestly tell you, if ever you get the opportunity to talk with him, that in the 20 years as a professional trainer, no dog has ever defeated him.

And with stories of vicious, uncontrollable animals making headlines on a daily basis, Lewis’ skills are ever more in demand, both in the training of dogs for the family, and in protection and security.

“No dog is ever born spiteful – if they are not socialised properly they will bite out of fear,” said Lewis, as he held a training session near Coventry for a small group of clients who are training their dogs for security and protection.
“A dog may nip someone out of curiosity just to see who you are, but if the dog has been trained properly that should never become a problem and I would say that applies in 97 per cent of cases.

“I think the biggest piece of advice I would ever give anyone when they first have a dog is to make sure they socialise it. Keeping a dog in your back garden is the worst thing you can do as it becomes fearful of people.”

Nathan, whose father Rocky is also a dog trainer who created his own breed known as a Rackars Terrier, added: “I would like to see a lot more young men with big dogs getting involved in the training process and taking responsible ownership of their animal.

“Many men want a dog as a status symbol but some are not prepared to work with the animal. If you have a dog that is going to bite someone, you have to make sure it is doing that for the right reasons in an extreme situation.”

Lewis’ work training dogs within the BPCSA is demanding as the animals are trained in trials, which ranges from sending a dog after a criminal, to the ultimate test of the animal’s courage where it is physically attacked by a fleeing gunman, for example.

“The work is tough but extremely rewarding as you are training some of these dogs to ultimately save a life,” said Nathan, who has nine dogs of his own at his Coventry home, ranging from German shepherds to Labradors and American bulldogs.

But on a routine basis, Lewis is himself a lifesaver to dogs as many of the animals he trains are often destined to be destroyed and have been rescued from a life of neglect.

“Many of the animals are on death row, so my job is to rehabilitate them and retrain them in order for them to be given a new chance, some within a family setting,” explained Lewis, who is usually accompanied by one of his dogs on a training session. He is pictured with one of his latest additions, Wapi, a U.S. bulldog who was rejected by her mother as a puppy.

Kenny Bourne, one of Lewis’ clients who owns a Doberman, said: “Under Nathan’s training I’ve noticed a real change in my dog in just two months. He is calmer and more obedient.

“I have spent a lot of time and money with a previous trainer, but I have to say Nathan knocks socks off him.”

Nathan trains dogs regularly across the West Midlands and his new website is currently under construction. For further details visit: www.best1k9.co.uk

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