Dangerous dogs handler a master of the art

Judy Cooper has done MA in dog behaviour and psychology and is the first person in Britain to get it. Pictured at her home in Aylesbury with dog Lynx
Judy Cooper has done MA in dog behaviour and psychology and is the first person in Britain to get it. Pictured at her home in Aylesbury with dog Lynx

An elderly woman who has spent years working with dangerous dogs is believed to be the first person in Britain to get a unique Masters degree.

Aylesbury resident Judy Cooper, 73, graduated from Middlesex University last week with an MA in canine behaviour and psychology.

She completed the degree to complement the work she has been doing as a dangerous dog assessor, which sees her and a colleague travel around the country and attend court for cases involving dog attacks.

Mrs Cooper, who lives with her husband Vic, hopes her studies can help inspire other older people to get out there and make the most of life.

She said: “Most people my age would be quite intimidated by doing something like this.

“I thought where do I go from here? I’m on the scrap heap. But I’m not.

“I have got so much energy and I wanted to go out and do something more.

“There were all these young kids at the graduation but I wasn’t classed as any different.”

After leaving school at 14, Mrs Cooper has worked with dogs all her life, from training and breeding to taking part in dog shows and judging entrants.

She has spent the past few years working as a bulldog assessor with Colin Tennant, principal of the Cambridge Institute of Dog Behaviour and Training.

Mrs Cooper said: “We go all over the place and assess all these dogs that have bitten somebody or done something they shouldn’t have done.

“It’s usually the people that are the problem, not the dogs.”

Mr Tennant said he told Mrs Cooper to do the degree so she could get some credit for her extensive knowledge about dogs picked up through a lifetime of working with them.

He said: “The work she does, handling locked up dogs every week, she’s brave beyond belief.

“How many people do you know of her age, or any age, that would do that?

“Since she did the Masters she’s become a lot more confident about her own knowledge and is a lot more reflective. Everything used to be black and white. Now she looks at things in a thousand shades of grey.”