It’s really show season at the moment!! We’d hardly dried the washing from Burghley when it was time for Woburn, and I’m off again next week!! It’s great fun though, and every show is different.
This is the first time Living Heritage had done a Country Show at Woburn Abbey, and the layout was a bit different – very long and thin. And as we were at one end it did feel like quite a long walk to get to the other!! We were next to the chain saw carvers (England v Germany) and it was noisy but interesting to watch the progress of the amazing sculptures they were working on over the weekend.
We were also next to our old friends the Scurry Bandits and they had their usual busy crowd around them all day. Scurry Bandits are great at encouraging young handlers to get involved and have a go, with special awards for young winners. The number of young handlers getting involved in gun dog work is growing with the encouragement and support of people like Bob and his team, who have, for many years now, provided a way for them to take part.
The other side of Scurry Bandits was Natalie Canon, doing the Gun Dog Clinic for the first time at a LH event. She was absolutely brilliant: I spent ten minutes with her and my eleven week old working cocker puppy, and learnt loads. She was helped in some of her demos by her young daughter, Caitlin, herself an accomplished young handler, and her young labrador.
Behind us was dog agility: not there at every show, but fun to watch when they are, and I enjoyed getting a few action shots as the dogs flewaround the ring – some of them in the right order and some… not!
The Fun Dog Show is less energetic. Our aim is to put the fun back into dog shows. We don’t take ourselves very seriously – the ‘Waggiest Tail’ is occasionally won by a dog outside of the ring; the crack team of judges is usually extended by a couple of unsuspecting members of the public (usually the good natured hecklers) and the ‘Dog Most Like Owner’ is Andy’s opportunity to come out with the best one-liners he can think of (“I do hope your legs aren’t as hairy as your yorkie’s, Madam?”).
We hope that people will leave the the ring smiling at the end of the day. And usually they do – especially the young handlers. Like the Scurry Bandits I mentioned before, we believe it is vital to encourage children in good dog handling, and while we can’t go past rosettes to fourth place, we’re not limited on how many fourths wegive out and no-one in the first two classes leaves without a rosette. It’s never too early to start and we were impressed by the winners of both Under 10s and Over 10s handlers on Saturday; both with the same dog, Skye, who went on to become the overall winner of the day, largely down to her young handlers – well done guys!
This weekend we were supporting the work of the Deaf Dog Network, run by the tireless Karen Lawe and her team. They support and advise people who have deaf dogs, providing an
invaluable service where people might otherwise give up on a perfectly healthy dog jet because it can’t hear properly. Watching Karen and the others work with their own dogs, training by sign language was inspiring and we were delighted to be able to give them £300 from the Fun Dog Show and some extra from thePhoto Draw at the end of the weekend.
Overall winner on Sunday was the little black whippet, Sasha.
After the dog show I went wandering with my camera and discovered the horse-boarding in the main arena: an amazing and exciting sport involving being pulled along a course on a skateboard by a galloping horse! Rather them than me but I enjoyed watching!
So: Thame was camping in temperatures of minus seven; at Netley Marsh I clung to my sleeping bag on the side of a steep hill; but I have to say that Woburn was the best yet for nocturnal adventure… all night long I lay and listened to the wolves howling at the nearby Safari Park. It was pretty awesome. And it certainly kept the dogs quiet!