A few years ago, Tim Delaney and his wife Margie were exploring how they might expand their knowledge of animal welfare, so that their retirement plans around showing, breeding and judging dogs might be enhanced. Delving into distance learning has hit the mark for their requirements.
Canadian born and raised, Tim (the Rev. Canon) and Margie emigrated to NZ in 1991. Now in his early seventies, Tim is a retired (2014) Anglican vicar, but is still involved with the local parish as one of three priests in the parish’s clergy team. He also worked for Parliamentary Service from 2015 to 2020, having been shoulder-tapped by their local MP to be the member support person for the Tararua District, where they live.
“In this role, I learned a lot about the various regulatory pressures faced by today's farmer and lifestyle operator,” said Tim, which has been useful knowledge to acquire, as they live on a three-acre (1.2 hectare) lifestyle block, where there’s space to run a few sheep.
In keeping with his retirement plans, Tim is a dog show judge, having been promoted to the Ribbon Parade panel with Dogs New Zealand earlier in 2022.
The Delaney’s main pastime are their dogs: they breed and Tim shows Chow Chows. “We also have a little Havanese and we are hoping she will produce a litter at some point in the not-too-distant future,” Tim said.
Their dogs were central to the decision to study as the Delaney’s prepared for their retirement, with Tim opting to be the student because at that stage, Margie was still working outside the home. Another factor to contend with was their semi-rural location near Dannevirke. “We are a long way from any tertiary education facility, so long-distance, online study looked to be the best bet,” said Tim.
After exploring the Internet for study options, SIT2LRN programmes around lifestyle block and companion animals seemed fit the bill nicely, and Tim enrolled in the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Care (Companion Animals) (Level 3) in spring 2020.
Having almost completed the certificate – he is on his final paper, Caged Birds - Tim said so far the course has delivered. He’s increased his knowledge in animal health, housing, feeding, emergency treatment, diseases, and more.
“I suppose in every course, there are parts that seem difficult or challenging because we aren’t particularly attracted to that area of study. But, I’ve found that if I power through regardless, I learn something I didn’t know, and that will eventually prove worthwhile knowing. And maybe even spark interest where there was none.”
Tim’s attitude of persevering in his learning has been rewarded with an unexpected, money-saving benefit.
“I thought I knew all I needed to know about dealing with local councils and central government with respect to animals, but not so. A recent outcome of my studies is a significant reduction in dog registration fees, to be included in next year’s Annual Plan, for members of Dogs New Zealand (formerly the New Zealand Kennel Club).”
Tim negotiated the discount with the District Council Mayor and senior council staff, drawing largely on information he had garnered from a paper which is part of his course curriculum – Ethical and Legal Behaviour in Relation to Animals - as well as Dogs New Zealand Codes of Conduct.
Looking ahead, Tim is expecting his qualification to complement his dog judging studies, “so that I can be more prepared as a breeder, exhibitor and judge”, he said.