Well the big news for us is that Mary has a new sponsor - it’s Arden Grange as you may have noticed from the home page. We did try several brands of food on the dogs and it’s a good job we only bought small bags as the dogs weren’t extra keen on it but we’ve now been trialling Arden Grange for a couple of months and the dogs really enjoy the food and look good on it as well.
I think we will shortly have some discount vouchers to send out with mail order items and we might have some samples to give out when Mary does one of her evenings or we have the shop out. We decided not to ask if we could sell food ourselves but rather point people to the website where, I understand, if you join their breeder club you can buy it at an advantageous price for working dogs. Pleased to say after an extended period we are really pleased with the dogs on Arden Grange, even Levi who has some intolerance to poultry and other things is fine on the Sensitive !! the others are on Adult Chicken & Rice except of course the “ankle biters” who are on small dog Lamb & Rice
Then click on the Breeder Club icon where it asks you whether you use it for working dogs.
Anyway, Mary does recommend the food based on her experiences with our dogs.
Well, it’s that time of year where it’s mostly shows for us. Mary doesn’t take on much in the way of appointments because of the pressures of time; she did decide to have two Monday training days per month BUT has had to cut it back to one as there’s just too much happening at the moment. So we’ve had to disappoint a few people as it’s currently completely full.
In July she held a training day for the Golden Dale HTM Group at the Prospect Village Hall, Cannock. A lovely bunch of ladies and a really enjoyable day and I think they really enjoyed themselves. As usual, we finished with the group doing their own routines which was good fun.
Mary was ring manager at Rugby’s annual Agility Weekend. We travelled down to the South of England Showground for the Agility Club Show, trying to avoid the traffic by leaving at 8 pm on the Thursday night and arriving at 10 pm, which was better than the three hours plus drive people experienced on the Friday.
The second week in August is the Kennel Club Agility Festival, a big event for me personally as I’m on the Kennel Club Working Party that organises it and I was also in charge of catering (with Mary Ray as a waitress as well as running the dogs). We served almost 500 meals over the three days of the festival in the marquee; that was three lunches and one evening meal. Directly after this on the Monday, we were off to Dogs in Need for our annual holiday at Ipswich Showground. The weather was a bit indifferent but could have been worse. Mary had a reasonable week, the highlight of which was qualifying Julie Skipp’s China for the Grade 6 Final. As usual with China, you can never anticipate what exactly will happen; it’s either very good or very bad and unfortunately it was the latter in the actual final.
At Bank Holiday weekend I had the weekend off. Mary had two Obedience Shows and along with any other results she’s had, I’ll put results at the end of this news item.
The following weekend on 3rd, 4th and 5th September I organised the Kennel Club Olympia Agility Semi Finals which used to be sponsored by Pedigree but now the Kennel Club have taken this on themselves and they also have a new supporter called Joint Aid for Dogs. So I continue in my usual role for this but I’m now doing it for the Kennel Club rather than the previous sponsor. One of the things I changed this year was the number of semi finals we have. The Royal Show finished last year so we lost that venue and I stopped semis being held at another couple of venues so now the City of Birmingham holds all the semi finals for the Olympia Finals which includes Small, Medium, Large Grade 3-5, Large Grade 6-7 and ABC - well over 300 dogs competing over the three days to get to Olympia, all with two runs. Plus we had the YKC Agility Dog of the Year which we run there as well on behalf of the Kennel Club, so it was all rather a busy time.
On the last afternoon of the City of Birmingham Show, we hitched up the caravan and made our annual pilgrimage to Anglesey, arriving in the dark and a little bit on the late side. Mary has been teaching on a week’s camp for Rex and Maggie in Anglesey for a few years now and it was another great week with a lovely training hall, lots of room for camping and exercising the dogs and a pristine set of agility equipment so it’s HTM/Freestyle/Agility all week. As with most of Mary’s weeks, the majority of participants had been before and this year they were blessed with good weather so it really was an excellent week. I wasn’t feeling at my best so I didn’t stray off the site all week. We dashed back from Anglesey on the Friday night as on the Saturday it was Thames Championship Obedience Show followed by Coventry Championship Show the next day, but more about obedience later.
On 15th/16th September, Mary was booked for two training days at the Mid Wales Dog Training Centre run by Gail Gwesyn-Pryce. One day was HTM and the second was Obedience. There was a great bunch of girls on the course, with a few from Blue Cross from as far afield as London and we were also pleased to welcome one young lady from Ireland who had come over specially, although the weather was a bit damp and I don’t think she was too impressed sleeping in a tent. I had suggested the year before that on the night prior to the course starting, as most people were camping or local, we had a pool party. Well, it’s supposed to be a dog hydrotherapy pool but in actual fact when she installed it she actually purchased an ordinary swimming pool with a ramp in it and it’s just superb; big enough to have a swim yourself and also have your dog with you. So on the Tuesday night there was wine and snacks and I have to say it really was a great night. Lots of people went into the pool with their dogs although I have to say that, as I was the ‘only bloke’, I decided to give it a miss myself and had my swim the next afternoon. In fact, I was in there for so long that I came out all white and crinkly, so not a pretty sight - and, on a couple of occasions, I was joined by a dog! It’s quite unique really; our Levi just loves swimming and every time we let him out of the van for a walk, he made a beeline for the door to the swimming pool. It certainly is a special event but unfortunately being Wales and September you are at the mercy of the weather. We were going to try to move it a bit earlier but, anyway, as soon as the date comes up on Mary’s website, it’s well worth booking a spot if only for the swimming!
The following week on 22nd September, we had a Canine Cabaret Night in aid of Canine Partners in Northampton. There were only around 100 there but it really was a smashing night with a great atmosphere and we were really pleased with it.
The following week we were off to the Dogs Trust Darlington branch for another Cabaret Night organised by David Fish. It’s a lovely hall, fully carpeted, but very compact. We had 80 people in the audience and again the atmosphere was wonderful so it was a really nice night. The downside, of course, is that it’s a 350 mile round trip for us and I think we got home at around 1:30 am feeling a wee bit tired.
The first weekend in October was Elm Park and Thurrock Championship Obedience weekends but again more of that later.
During the following week Mary had been invited to the Isle of Man and unfortunately the person who initially started organising this had to stand down so Debbie Martin picked up the reins. We left on 5th October and joined the ferry from Heysham. I thought it was quite a small ferry and that was reflected in the fact that it was a bit of a bumpy ride; in fact, as we approached the Isle of Man, Mary’s sister Pauline who came with us was rather regretting having a curry as soon as she got on the boat as she was starting to taste it again. But she did escape having to use a sick bag! Anyway, I realised then why the ferry was so short - because the boat has to turn round to reverse into its berthing harbour and of course they can only fit in a short boat. We were met at the harbour and taken to our home for the next four nights and it was just simply adorable. It was a refurbished cottage called Garden Cottage, it did say five star and I can well believe the rating as it had a lovely lounge with flat-screen TV and patio doors into the garden and a combined the kitchen area with fridge freezer, a single bedroom, a big bathroom with huge roll-top bath and shower and a double bedroom with patio doors again into the garden. It also had under-floor heating and a log burning fire. And the best part is that they let you take dogs! The garden was part grass, part pebbles where you can drive your vehicle in onto the pebbles and the five bar gate was fully meshed so that the whole garden was dog proof. And, as a bonus, 100 yards up the road was a field which must have been about four or five acres which was the training ground for Ramsay Dog Training Club who had invited Mary. Again it was fully dog proof so we could drive the van into the field, shut the gate and let the dogs have a run twice a day. So a little bit of doggy heaven on the Isle of Man!
If you’re going to travel to the Isle of Man then we would thoroughly recommend Garden Cottage and here is the link to their web site:
On the Wednesday and Thursday, Mary held two Obedience training days in the local village hall. It was a nice big hall in a village called Andreas (which also happened to have a very good pub that did excellent meals!) Mary had a really good time on the training course and got a lot of satisfaction from doing the training and also felt that her tuition and ideas were well-received. Although she did have to go back a little way as clicker training on the Isle of Man is not widely practised yet, so only a small amount of clicker training with mostly traditional methods. It must be very difficult for Isle of Man obedience dog handlers because if they want to enter a show, apart from the two or three on the Isle of Man then they have to travel onto the mainland and it is very very expensive to undertake this on a regular basis. I took my big sprinter van over with me and they had a special rate for a van not used for commercial purposes. The only problem was that I did have commercial goods stacked up in the back as well as our suitcases and the dogs’ belongings. I think there would have been a huge surcharge if they’d searched it but I got away with it by the skin of my teeth!
On the Friday, we had an interview with the local press and they filmed some video for their local website of Mary training the reporter’s dog plus the reporter working one of our dogs - great fun and I’m sure they made a good video clip out of it.
Friday night was our last night and Mary had a Canine Cabaret Night at the Villa Marina Theatre and, well, what a stunning venue! It must have been built in the early part of the twentieth century and had been fully refurbished with floor level tiered seating for around 400 spectators and balcony seating for about the same again. All the big superstars have performed there and I can tell you that just standing on the stage made you feel like a superstar, it was just superb. Where they would normally have an additional few hundred seats on the floor of the theatre instead of Mary performing on stage, they had fully carpeted the floor for her and there were around 400 people in the audience. Mary angled her show for the night more towards the general public, although obviously leaving in a lot of the technical training parts to satisfy the experienced dog handlers, but it really was a wonderful night with plenty of children there and lots and lots of compliments on how much the audience enjoyed it afterwards, even on the boat coming home. The downside was that we got back to the cottage at around 12:30 am and had to get up at around 5 am to catch the early boat. And why would we be silly enough to do that? Because someone I know called Mary Ray wanted to do Cheshire Championship Obedience Show on the Sunday! Anyway, it was a great few days on the Isle of Man. It is a lovely island although by choice I would probably prefer to visit in June to early September to get the best of the weather.
Mary has had a good Summer in Obedience; in fact I suppose it was excellent as there weren’t many shows we went to without coming back with a few rosettes.
On Bank Holiday Monday at Stonehouse Championship Show, under judge Kath Hood, Foxy won her second Championship ticket and hence qualified for Crufts.
On Foxy’s 8th birthday at Thames Championship Show in September, she won the reserve ticket under Fred Burns, so came close to becoming a champion on her birthday! However, the next day at Coventry Championship Show, under judge Pandy Hannah, she did win the championship class to become Mary’s sixth Obedience Champion.
Meantime, Taz wasn’t going to be kept out of the limelight and at Thurrock Championship Show in October, he won another Championship class and Mary’s little Sheltie Ozzy won his third Class A and hence Ozzy will be at next year’s shows working ‘B’ only.
Levi has had several places in Championship classes but hasn’t managed to win one yet. Yes, that’s what you need - a little bit of luck on the day and he’ll be there shortly.
As I write this, Mary has just one more Obedience show this year and that’s the Tunbridge Show and she also has a Cabaret Night in the Gloucester area for Janet Butler so if you want an entertaining and enlightening evening have a look at Mary’s diary page for contact details.