Suffolk man and his pup’s unbreakable bond wins them 30 rosettes across county
- Credit: Su Anderson
The loving bond between a man and his dog could not be demonstrated any better than by the relationship between Snape man Karl Knights and his four-year-old border collie, Star.
Mr Knights, a 52-year-old musician, and Star have won more than 30 rosettes at an array of dog shows across the county, including at Woofbridge, Framlingham Country Show, Snape Village Fete and Suffolk Dog Day, and have taken to giving displays instead of entering competitions.
“He is a really, really special dog,” said Mr Knights. “What I found with Star from a very young age was that he wasn’t particularly interested in treats, but he absolutely loved chasing balls. His reward was having the ball thrown for him.
“I started using a ball or toy to manipulate his movements. To get him to go through my legs I would give the command, pass the ball through my legs, he would follow it and once he had completed it I would throw the ball. That’s all he wanted. He would get to know that if he performed the ball would be thrown.
“He’s just so quick to learn, there’s stuff I have taught him in two or three minutes.
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“Eventually he didn’t need to follow the ball, just do the move and he knew the ball would be thrown.”
Mr Knights said Star had learnt to follow around 100 different commands, including a figure eight, bowing to the crowd, walking on his hind legs and taking off Mr Knight’s hat, as well as learning to tidy away his own toys and open and close cupboards when asked.
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“I know everybody says it about their own dog, but Star, he’s special,” he said. “He absolutely loves it. As soon as I take a ball out of my pocket and say shall we do some tricks he just completely and utterly focuses on my hands.”
What makes this tale even more remarkable is that Mr Knights has managed to train Star to this ability despite being almost blind, having been born with congential glycoma.
Mr Knights said: “I’ve only got 4% vision. One time I realised I had left my cigarette papers up on the field. I went back to look for them, said ‘find the papers’ and he shot off and came back with my papers in his mouth. I had never trained him to do that, he just went and looked for anything that he thought was mine.
“People say he’s aware. When he’s any distance away he looks for me all the time.”
Despite being encouraged to do so by friends on many occasions, Mr Knights said he would not pursue the pair’s talent as a career.
“I’m no professional trainer,” he said. “I’m just a guy and his pup and we have a lot of fun together. That’s so important.
“If it was a job it would completely defeat the reason I do it with him in the first place. I don’t want what he finds fun and enjoyable to become a job to him.”