News Update
29th January 2009
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Well here we go again, I keep saying that I will do a write up on a more regular basis but never seem to get round to it so that is my new year resolution! Mary had a fabulous time in New Zealand and Australia. If we were going to move abroad that is definitely the place we’d go. First stop was New Zealand and after 36 hours travelling Mary arrived in Dunedin which is on the South Island. Her hosts while she was there were Paul and Sallie Remon. Sallie, formerly known as Sallie Roberts, was pretty well known in obedience and HTM in the UK and she married Paul and they emigrated to New Zealand. And Paul, was a very successful agility handler and judge and again very successful in the UK and it appears that that success has now transferred to New Zealand where they are becoming some of the country’s top competitors and judges too. Mary was teaching for 3 days primarily clicker training, obedience and HTM. She was really pleased with the results of the training and had lots of positive feedback. And she really enjoyed her time there as well although it was fairly brief but she did manage to fit in a horse ride down the beach, a riotous 60th birthday party (well perhaps not!), and she did bring me back a porno calendar – well perhaps nearly porno! It was a calendar in the style of the ‘Calendar Girls’ calendar that we had over here and of the film fame only this time it was the New Zealand agility boys getting their kit off and rumour has it that Paul was first in the queue to get his kit off! Of course all the equipment in the calendar was strategically placed and there wasn’t a weaving pole in sight!

A night in Wellingborough

After having a lovely time in New Zealand it was then on a direct flight from Dunedin to Brisbane for Mary after she had paid a $60 surcharge for her luggage, I think it was the Australian equivalent of Ryan Air she was on! Mary, as usual, was training at the Coolangatta Pet Motel for Ann and Tony Bulke. I won’t go into all the details but she had a fabulous time again. It is a wonderful venue in one of the best areas in Australia and I’m sure if we could get a visa we would be moving there ourselves but unfortunately unless you are a 25 year old brain surgeon you don’t stand much chance especially if you are our ages! You can look back on previous news items to see what the venue is like but it is absolutely fabulous – 10 self catering cabins (well more like semi-detached bungalows), an undercover training area, an agility training area, an indoor conference centre with full training facilities, and set in 77 acres and you get ocean views from the top of the hill and there is also some tropical rain forest. What a wonderful place to walk your dog. We were very shocked to find out in January to find out that Ann and Tony have decided to retire. So, if you would like to move to Australia and you’ve got £3 million to spare you could buy yourself a little piece of paradise which includes a complete brick built boarding kennel for 180 dogs and 50 cats. Plus holiday cabins, outdoor training areas, purpose built undercover training area, a huge conference room etc etc.

Mary didn’t have much time for socialisation this time, she had a few days just before the course started but the day after it finished she was winging her way back home via Dubai. We use Emirates where we can because they fly direct back into Birmingham and the food and service are first class. And boy was I glad to see her back! Yes, of course I missed her, but I was also worn to a frazzle looking after the dogs and trying to do everything else at once. Mary arrived back on the Tuesday lunchtime but on the Friday I was cracking the whip again and we were over to see Elaine David over by Great Yarmouth and Mary was having one of her Cabaret Nights for her. Nice little venue, packed as usual, good humour amongst the audience and hence a very successful evening. It was a long way to drive back late on a Friday night but Elaine had asked us if we would like to stay in one of her holiday chalets that she has nearby and that is what we did along with Jan Morse who is Mary’s helper. Elaine has 5 or 6 of these chalets, they are 2 bedroomed , her husband has refurbished them and they are very smart and comfortable. It did mean we could have a reasonable nights sleep and I must admit I was a bit late getting up in the morning especially when Elaine was due to arrive at 8am and I’d only just got up when she did arrive with a puppy! So this conversation went on between Elaine and Mary and I suddenly caught on in my drowsiness that they were talking about Mary having a puppy to which I immediately said “No way!” and we’ve already got enough dogs and it wasn’t even a proper dog it was a Chihuahua! Yes, that’s right a Chihuahua, how would I ever be able to hold my head up again in public if we had a Chihuahua but joking apart because that is bound to upset anyone with a Chihuahua but I said “No, I couldn’t make a decision here and now”

Mary and her sisters living it up on New Year's Eve

The next event was on the 4th November and we were travelling up to Mypetstop in Manchester. This is a great venue, lovely people run it and another packed house for one of Mary’s nights. The following weekend we were down in London for Discover Dogs. Mary was demonstrating her Crufts 2008 routine along with Richard Curtis and that went down a storm and Mary along with Richard did a clicker training spot in the arena which was extremely popular and just for good measure she competed in some of the agility events. Disco dogs is a great event and prior to this we’d had that awful ‘Pedigree Dogs Exposed’ programme on TV so we were all worried that people wouldn’t turn up for the show but obviously we soon found out that we didn’t need to worry it was a record gate and they were still queuing to get in at 2pm. The seats in the main arena were full all day and it is just a great show. Mary did raise a laugh when she was running in the agility and lost a shoe half way round the course and finished it with one shoe on and one shoe off!

Well, Mary had a few days off the following week but we can’t leave her hanging round for too long. On Friday 14th November she was off to Turin in Italy for a training weekend. Mary has been to Turin on a number of occasions and previously she has flown Easyjet from Luton but when I came to book her flight they had cancelled that service and it wasn’t restarting until early December so we had a choice – Mary could fly from Gatwick on BA or fly from Birmingham on Airfrance that flies via Paris and looking at the flight/connection times versus me driving to Gatwick and back twice it was obvious that the Airfrance flight was going to be the most expedient. So, she had a good flight there and the weekend was good and all was going fine until she arrived at the airport for the flight back on the Monday morning. I had a phone call at 08.30 on the Monday morning to tell me that her host for the weekend had dropped her off and gone and she had been informed that the Airfrance pilots had gone on strike and they had cancelled all the flights. I then had about ¾ of an hour in frantic activity contacting Mary’s host in Turin to go back to the airport and also putting some money on Mary’s phone. She was lucky, she was fairly close to the front of the queue to get dealt with she was offered a 3 hour coach journey to another airport to catch a UK bound flight, or to come back the following day when the pilots would be working again but I had told Mary that there was a Gatwick bound flight that afternoon with BA and fortunately they put her on it so I just had to drive to Gatwick to collect her. You read about things like this happening all the time and I suppose that Mary has done really well this being the first time it has ever happened to her.

She had only been back a day of course and I got her out working again. She was doing a fundraising night in Kinver organised by the Kinver Veterinary Surgery. It was a good night, good atmosphere, lovely people and as usual everyone enjoyed it. The following week we had a night on the Wirral organised by the Wirral branch of the R.N.L.I to raise funds for the lifeboats. I understand that the local committee who are not dog people were concerned that the evening may have been a flop. They had arranged it in a lovely hotel with a rectangular function room with a bar at one end and they were all cock a hoop as they sold well over 200 tickets. But, to say the working area for Mary was a bit on the small side would have been an understatement as it was a bit of a job to fit everyone in. In fact, it finished up with a row of chairs right up to the bar but in the break folk having to move their chairs so that people could get to the bar to buy a drink! The good part about having the audience so close is the atmosphere and it can make or break a night and Mary and the dogs were on top form and put those two together and you have a fab evening. It was made a bit more special by the fact that the gentleman who opened the evening with a short speech on behalf on the R.N.L.I had been captain of the Cunard Liner QE2 for 9 years and this evening coincided with the liner making its last trip to a new future as a hotel and entertainment centre in Dubai.

A couple of days after this we were off to Worthing town hall for Mary’s regular cabaret night for Findon Downs DTC which was as usual it was a sell out – in fact in had been sold out for some months so there were a few disappointed people who couldn’t get tickets. Another great night but just a bit wet on the way there and back and not home until the early hours of the morning. Mary finished November by qualifying as a member of the English obedience team for Crufts with Taz. She will be competing at this competition on Sunday 8th March.

Mary's Obedience champion in training, it's chico time!

In December Mary just had a couple of engagements. A small one for the Spanish Water Dog Society in Leicester which was a demonstration for a couple of hours and then her final evening gig was a big one at Wellingborough which was a fundraiser for Canine Partners organised by Sally Hubbard. The venue was big barn on a farm that is used for various functions and they put carpet down to cover all the barn flooring. And it was another good night. I suppose I get boring really saying it, but these evenings are very entertaining and I am very good at watching the audience’s reactions and I always think for what they cost you get a good evening’s entertainment and you also learn something but the single most important thing that people can take away with them is enthusiasm. And more than that, the knowledge that everyone can achieve a degree of success with their dog no matter what the age or breed of the dog. There were 2 highlights of the evening, firstly the scrumptious homemade lasagne we were fed before we started – well done chef!, and the second was the fact that it was Mary’s new dog debut. And I have to say I was conned guv! He’s a lovely little dog and he has actually become my friend now but what we didn’t need was another new dog especially a Chihuahua! Yes, you’ve guessed right that little puppy from Yarmouth ended up with us because Mary’s sister Pauline conned me. I was allowed to name him though, it’s a bit corny but his name is Cheeko. He’s a lively little devil as they saw on the evening. He loves doing tricks, in fact his favourite trick is to fall asleep on Mary’s lap every night! I keep saying that all she needs is a tartan blanket over her legs and a shawl over her shoulders with Cheeko on her lap but she gets really annoyed when I say that to her!

Also before Christmas, you may recall an earlier article how Tricia had tragically lost her new puppy Molly which she was so, so upset about, well Mary and Tricia did search pretty high and low for another puppy when Tricia was ready including a skirmish with what could have been a puppy farm down in Hemel Hempstead where they went to see a puppy and when they arrived it was to a decent farmhouse with a lot of noisy dogs in a back yard. They were allowed in to the hallway where there were two puppies in a plastic box supposed to be litter sisters but they were not alike at all. They asked the ‘owner’ if they could hold the puppy and look at it and they were told “no” in case they put germs on the puppy. When the woman held the pups up it was obvious that the one that Tricia was interested in was severely undershot. Mary asked the woman if she could put the puppies on the floor so they could see them move and they were told “no” as they had never been on carpet they might catch something from the floor. They also asked if they could see the mother and again they were told “no” because they would take infection into the kennels. And the RSPCA, Dogs Trust and the BBC have got the nerve to criticise the Kennel Club and try and bring them down when you’ve got things like this happening. Can anyone in their right mind believe that this place in Hemel Hempstead is being run by a caring breeder? But after all that Wiccaweys came up trumps and located a suitable puppy in Ireland that is reputed to be a Jack Russell cross Yorkshire terrier and we had to wait a couple of weeks until there was a vacancy in one of the numerous vans that brings dogs over from Ireland to rescue kennels in the UK before we got her to home (I could write another little tale about that but we won’t go there) Anyway, she is a super little puppy. Tricia has called her Libby and she is besotted with her. Mary has done a couple of little training sessions in the living room with her and she reckons that she is lightning quick at learning anything so maybe you will be seeing a little bit more of Libby in the next couple of years.

Well I think that is all for now, I will do an article for January and February very shortly. I promise! I hope lots of people come along and support Crufts after all the bad publicity certain organisations have tried to pile on the KC. I think that everybody accepts that perhaps they should have used a bit more stick instead of persuasion the last few years with certain breeds but they are doing it now and for that they deserve our support. And we’ve got to remember that the KC doesn’t just stand for pedigree dogs. We also have the working register for crossbreeds who can compete in all the activity disciplines and we also have agility, obedience, working trials, HTM, flyball, gundogs, Good Citizens, Scruffts in fact I could go on and on. Remember that any damage inflicted on the KC could affect all our disciplines and that is what we don’t want to happen.

And very finally, a bit of stop press news – after the demise of the Pedigree stand at Crufts Mary has been snapped up by Samsung to appear on the their stand between 2 and 3pm in Hall 3 on Thursday and Friday at Crufts where she will be giving a tricks and training demonstration with her dogs. Mary will be performing in the Best In Show again on Sunday night with something a bit special !!!

Mary will be working Taz in the Championships and the World Cup at Crufts