JANET Garrett, 62, owner of Janet’s Puppy Skool in Haydon Wick, recently handed over the latest in a series of defibrillators she is giving to Swindon schools as a result of her fundraising efforts. Janet is married to IT specialist John Stanley and has two grown-up children and four grandchildren

By the end of next month, six Swindon schools will have defibrillators because Janet Garrett happened to hear a radio programme in May.

It was an interview with members of Swindon Heart Safe, an organisation devoted to buying and providing the life-saving devices.

Janet said: “They were talking to one of the presenters about how they would really like to put a defibrillator in every Swindon school, and how for a few hundred pounds lives could be saved.

“It was so heartfelt from these ladies, both of whom had children who had had need of a defibrillator because they had cardiac problems.

“None of us ever know – it doesn’t necessarily happen to somebody who has heart disease. It can just be some sort of chemical thing that happens and suddenly someone needs a defibrillator.

“I just thought, ‘What a noble thing for them to be doing. How wonderful for them to be trying to get these machines into every school.’

“I was listening and thinking, ‘Gosh, I hope there’s one in my grandchildren’s school.’ It said you could phone up and offer help, and so that’s just what I did.

“I phoned the radio station and said I’d be interested in helping in some way. They asked me if I would go in the following week.

“While we were talking before we went on air I said to the presenter that I had since found out that the school my grandson goes to, and my little granddaughter will be going to, doesn’t have a defibrillator and I would like to buy one. Just me as a person, buy one for Red Oaks Primary School.

“He said, ‘Let’s keep it a surprise and we’ll let that secret out on air for these ladies,’ so that’s what we did.”

The devices are installed not just for pupils but for all on school sites, including parents, teachers, visitors and even first aiders responding to crises outside.

That first defibrillator was a personal gift from Janet. “Then I went home and I started to think. Every year my business has a fundraiser. We pick a charity and we work for it.

“I thought we might be able to raise enough money to buy four defibrillators and get them into schools by the start of the school year.

“We did our normal fundraiser, which is a dog show, agility, clever dogs’ classes, recall. We have a coffee and cake shop and we actually had real ale this time.

“At the end of the day we’d raised enough money to buy five defibrillators.”

They cost a little over £500 each. The first went to Dorcan Academy, the second to Churchfields Academy and the third to Tadpole Farm Primary Academy.

Next month defibrillators will be given to Liden School and Uplands College.

Janet is originally from the Elephant and Castle area of London.

“We were part of the influx to Swindon when they built up the new town, and they needed firemen. My dad was a fireman.

“My grandparents had already moved here. My granddad was a milkman.”

Janet originally wanted to be a vet, but discovered a real talent for the French language.

“My parents saw a great opportunity because they didn’t think I really wanted to be a vet. My dad kept saying to me, ‘Oh, you’ve got to put your hand up a cow’s backside!’”

Janet spent many years using her language skills in business, including as a bilingual PA.

She had dogs throughout that time, and was always interested in the animals and their ways.

“All the while I used to love, as a hobby, studying for dog qualifications. I was forever taking exams within the dog world and latterly particularly in dog behaviour and dog psychology.

“I was forever accruing these qualifications, but for my own benefit. I would rescue dogs and then work them out.”

Eventually, she reached a point when she wanted something new. With the encouragement of loved ones she opened Janet’s Puppy Skool in 2007 and has never looked back.

Over the years she has helped thousands of dogs and owners.

The most common issues she encounters?

“In the baby puppies it will be toilet training, biting and mouthing where the puppy keeps biting everything, and pulling on the lead.

“With the older puppies and young dogs, it’s recall. They let them off the lead and they don’t come back.

“We’re training for life. Life skills means going to the pub, going on holiday, going around town, going to the park – and coming back.

“It’s not how fast they sit. Sitting isn’t a big thing anymore.”

The type of training championed by the late Barbara Woodhouse, a form of tough love involving the notorious choke chain, has long fallen from favour.

“If your dog’s a mate, why on earth would you want to hurt them?

“You don’t push a bottom down to sit or pull a neck. It’s all psychology. You’re saying to your dog or puppy, ‘If you do this, you will get this, which is the same as us going to work.

“We teach them what they have to do in order to get this treat or this game or this cuddle.”

Owners can also have issues, including choosing unsuitable dogs for their home circumstances or being tempted or tricked into buying animals born in grim puppy farms. Such creatures, often bred cruelly from exhausted bitches, are often prone to hereditary illnesses.

Janet advises caution.

“Choose wisely, choose properly. Don’t buy from eBay or some weird place. See the mother, see the litter and listen to the advice of the breeder. If it doesn’t sound right, move away.”

She is also a great advocate for choosing dogs and puppies from shelters. “I had rescue dogs for about 30 odd years. Shelters are full of lovely dogs needing homes.”

Further information about Janet’s Puppy Skool can be found at its Facebook presence.