News Update October 2011

Once more a bit late doing the update, I can’t believe that the last update I posted was in July and we’ve certainly had a bit of a roller coaster ride since then. As you may know Mary has not been doing agility this year and has been doing a lot more obedience shows. After Winchester we had Rugby Championship agility show, as you know that is our own club show where Mary is ring manager and the club had a major problem with it – just too many entries! Action is in hand to try and cut down the number of entries next year to a more manageable level.

The following weekend we did North West Kent CH Obedience show, the first day was Championship and the second day was Open. Levi once more was nearly there with a second place in the Championship class and he did win Open C on one day and 2nd place on the other so as you will see from the results at the bottom a good show.

In the middle of the following week we were off to mid Wales. We brought the date a little bit forward this year and it was a two day mid-week obedience training course. Some readers may recall that it is a regular booking and the venue has a superb dog/human swimming pool. Well run as usual by Gail and good company from the participants.

The last weekend in July Mary did an afternoon audience show for Russell Becque in Southampton. We had nearly 100 people there in a lovely little hall and the audience were great and it had a really good atmosphere which of course puts comedienne Mary on form. They did have a table there selling cup cakes to die for!

The first weekend in August Mary stayed up in Hatchford Brook Championship Obedience show for the weekend in the caravan. And again, a hugely successful weekend for Mary, 3rd place in the championships for Levi and wins for Lexie, Foxy and Ozzie. In fact she had 4 first places, 2 seconds, a third and a fourth.

The following week we all went to the KC Agility Festival. Mary wasn’t competing but was helping and I was catering and competition manager and generally offering my advice whether it was needed or not – you know how it is! It was really, really the best IAF yet, brilliant layout, good weather and ran like clockwork just a shame that we had a few accidents there with people falling over etc and tragically one of the agility handlers, Don Nunn, collapsed and died immediately after completing a clear round with his dog. The IAF this year had in excess of 20,000 entries, 750 caravans and lord knows how many people on the ground and we all have to accept that unfortunately we will have tragic events happening.

Now it was a first for us the following week. Ever since Dogs in Need started, which is over 20 years ago, we have been there and of course Mary has competed. With Mary not competing in agility this year we decided to give it a miss. We could have gone and just camped and had a bit of a holiday but I think the words I am looking for is that we are all ‘Suffolked out’ but what were we to do?

Mary and I have only been in two commercial caravan sites in the last 25 years but we were talking to someone at an obedience show that used to compete in agility - Pete and Sue Bishop – and they were telling us that they have a garden centre just outside Eastbourne with a 5 pitch CL behind it so we booked it and that is where we went for that week. We had a great, great time it is a lovely spot to camp – a very secluded little paddock lined with apple trees, electric hook up and you could just stroll into the garden centre where they had a lovely little café and on the whole it was just a great week. It is about 45 minutes from Brighton, 8 miles from Eastbourne and you’re right on the edge of the South downs where we went to walk one day. We know someone with a holiday home at Pevensey Bay so we went down and spent a morning there and had a walk on the beach and an old work colleague of mine from about 15 years ago lives in Eastbourne so we had an afternoon there with him and went around the lakes and the parks with the dogs and ended the day in a smashing Italian restaurant. This all reminds me that I must book our spot there for next year before anybody else does!

It was a short visit to Eastbourne, arrived Monday and on Friday we were off to Ditton Championship Obedience weekend. It was a short trip across into Kent and it was a superb venue – big clubhouse, great food, great bar, and most importantly a perfect parking place right by the gate into the competition field so not far for Mary to walk back and forth. Levi still struggling just to get that Championship win – he got a 3rd here but he managed to win Open C dog on both days. Foxy won Open C bitch on both days and little Ozzie won a first place in B dog. Another extremely successful show for Mary.

The following weekend it was back to obedience and Mary had Stonehouse and Cambridge Champ shows. Levi got another runner up in Champ C dog and Foxy won the Championship C bitch class and little Ozzie won another B dog class. And that weekend out new little rescue collie Lexie won another novice bitch so yet another good weekend and Mary is piling the rosettes up as you will see in the results section at the end.

We then moved to the first weekend in September. I was running the KC Olympia agility semi finals at the City of Birmingham breed show for three days as usual. Mary competed at Lichfield Champ Obedience show and not bad though – two seconds and two firsts with Levi and Lexie. As is traditional after this weekend we were off to Anglesey!

It is always a bit of a rush to get away from the semis and towing the caravan up to Anglesey late on the Sunday afternoon but we had a beautiful run up. Not much traffic on the motorway and we came off on the A55 and had a trouble free run past Chester making for the coast and there was a beautiful sunset with the evening sun shining through the clouds – even Mary got the camera out to take a photograph as it was so beautiful and it was getting latish and as we passed Rhyl and Colwyn Bay we could look out to sea and see the sunshine playing on the top of the waves then as we neared Anglesey it started to get a bit darker but now lets come back down to earth – it wasn’t night time it was the rainclouds and it absolutely peed down for the next three days, it just didn’t stop! We’ve been doing this course for a number of years and it is the first time that we’ve had weather as bad as this.

It really was a good week again, Rex and Maggie have got a smashing place and although it was supposed to be agility in the afternoons and HTM in the mornings a lot of the time was spent in the small training hall that they have which is super. The week includes a great evening out at a local hotel. There is a cabaret night for the HTMers so lots of doggy dancing. We had a big meal for everyone in the barn and I believe that it is fully booked up for next year already. We even had Veronique from Belgium over on the course for a week. I did suggest that next year instead of being HTM and agility that the agility should be substituted for obedience so the handlers were asked what they thought, I think there was an avalanche of yes votes!

After Anglesey the nomadic lifestyle starts again. We had a really good run back from Anglesey and a quick empty of the caravan and we were on the road at 6am next morning to Thames Champ obedience show. Another good result for a one day show for Mary, 2 firsts, 2 seconds and a fourth. The following day, on the 11th September, Mary went off to Coventry Champ show. I’m sure she must be unpopular with some of the other handlers as she won novice bitch and B dog with Lexie and Ozzie respectfully. We probably got the organisation dates wrong but the next day she had her regular monthly training day at the barn in Rugby and then had a few days to rest and recuperate.

The following two weekends were obedience shows at Birmingham. Both weekends had one Champ show and one Open show and Mary had decided that she wanted the caravan taken up and she was going to stay the week there with her sister Pauline. The venue was Sandwell Valley Country Park and although it is within walking distance of West Bromwich is it absolutely idyllic – so much so there must have been 70 – 80 caravans staying the week there. And of course there was a great community atmosphere with bits of training going on and some wonderful dog walks. The downside for me was that Mary would have liked me to go up every other day to empty the loo and when we parked up I did tell her that she wouldn’t get a picture on the satellite dish as she was parked too close to the trees but I did manage to get a freeview picture for her. Unfortunately the authorities chose that week to change the channel settings and Mary didn’t know how to retune the tv – I won’t tell you about the phone calls I had! And then to make it worse, we decided to buy a motorhome and I went and bought it the week she was away without seeing it which is a bit of a recipe for disaster really. So on the Wednesday night in semi darkness I took it up there to show her whilst wearing a set of ear defenders and full body armour in case she didn’t like it! Eureka, she thought it was lovely and I earned myself some brownie points. More about that in another news round up.

Before moving on to how well Mary did over the weekends I can tell you that I am going to be advertising the caravan for sale. It is a 2008 luxury twin axle Abbey Caravan with everything and when I say everything I mean everything. It’s got all the optional extras such as leather seating, power touch mover, tyron bands, top of the range self seeking satellite dish, sky box etc etc.

As far as competition over these two weekends goes it was a eureka moment for Mary with 5 first places, 2 seconds, 2 thirds, a fourth, a fifth and a sixth and the highlight was Levi won the Champ dog class and qualified for Crufts. So Mary now has Foxy and Levi in the Championship classes at Crufts and Levi in the England team in the world cup. What a great week she had! After all the reserves and places in Open C it was a great relief for Mary to get the win.

The following week we had an evening for Dima’s Dog School at Barnet in Hertfordshire, just a small hall with about 90 in the audience it was destined to be a great night and he was going to put carpet down for us as well so extra good. But earlier that week we had a phone call from a company in London who were putting together a pop video and the theme of the pop video was going to be Crufts and they wanted the star of the video to do some doggy dancing. As they were London based it seemed ideal to hire Dima’s hall for the afternoon and before the evening started on Thursday and that it was what happened. Dima came along and unlocked the hall for us completely unaware that he was going to bump into Will Young!

It was going to be an afternoon for the rehearsals with the actual filming the following Tuesday in London. Mary and Will used Levi and although Levi is a brilliant dog I think the likelihood of just getting away with one rehearsal before the actual filming was a bit much to ask especially when the professional choreographer and the director kept changing things round which they needed to do to make sure the end result was good. Having worked with celebrities before it is a big ask to get them to come out of London but I suggested that they came up to our house on the following Monday morning and then Mary would take them up the barn for some more rehearsals. For obvious reasons we didn’t tell anybody what was happening. If only our neighbours knew that on that Monday morning Will Young was in our house meeting all our dogs and getting a cuddle from Mary’s sister Tricia!

For reasons that I will tell you in a moment I only met Will on the Thursday afternoon but what a great guy. We’ve been very lucky with some of the celebrities we’ve met and it’s just like being with an ordinary bloke. When he first arrived on the Thursday in his sleek car he was dressed like a million dollars but it didn’t take him long to get in his shorts, t shirt and trainers and get down to the job in hand and he took to dog training like a duck to water.

Now, I would have loved to have been at our house on the Monday morning and at the filming day in London on the Tuesday but I had already booked a few days sight seeing in Rome with my mate Roger so I was on a plane out of Birmingham at 9am on the Monday morning. I can tell you that the training went brilliantly on the Monday, as I was not there to drive her the filming company arranged for Mary, Jan and Levi to be collected from our house at 5am on the Tuesday morning for the journey into the studio in London. Levi was absolutely brilliant, he was a superstar and having spoken to the producer since he said he was the best dog they’ve ever had on one of their videos in all the years they’ve been making them. The less glamorous side of this is that Mary didn’t arrive home until 2am the next morning – you could say a little bit tired. Levi was fine, he kept having cat naps during the day – or should that be dog naps?!

The weekend between the two rehearsals it was Elm Park and Thurrock Championship shows on the same weekend not far from Dartford and this was also the maiden voyage of our new used motor home. Well, what an unbelievable weekend for Mary! On the Saturday Levi got first place in open C dog, he won the championship again. Ozzie won first place in B dog and Foxy won first place in Open C bitch, the tragic part was that Foxy was leading the championship class and very, very unusually for her she failed scent so Mary could have won both dog a bitch tickets. Then on Sunday it was Thurrock champ show on the same venue and it was a eureka moment again – Levi got first place in Open C dog and then Mary with Levi and Foxy won both the championship classes which made Levi up into an obedience champion. As I’ve already said, I was in Rome for the week in between those two shows, I did pop into see the Pope when I was in the Vatican but he was out when I knocked the door! I did go on the wagon when I was in Rome, well anyone would actually as in our hotel a small beer was 8 euros and a shot of gin was 12 euros – I didn’t bother to ask how much the tonic was but a great week!

The on the 9th October we were up in Cheshire at their championship show and here we go again – Mary and Levi won the champ C dog again and she would have won championship C bitch after a run off but silly billy Mary gave an extra command and that cost her the ticket so she got 2nd place in Championship bitch. Little Ozzie also won B dog. He will be working C shortly after winning 6 B classes.


PS: I Put the caravan on ebay and within 8 hours I had a call, a couple from Abingdon arrived within 2 hours and fell in love with and became the new owners !!!

PPS: Mary has had a amazing time in Obedience over the last few weeks but to top it all at East Grinstead Championship Obedience Show she almost cleaned up, 6 classes entered and came away with 5 wins and a 3rd place, Levi: 1st Championship Dog, Lexi: 1st Novice Bitch, Ozzie: 1st Class B Dog, Levi: 1st Class C Dog, Foxy: 1st Class C Bitch and Foxy: 3rd Championship Bitch, I have never seen Mary get so many congratulations. I know I am biased but she is just so talented !!