Febuary '06

Rooney thinks he is a a agility A frame

The weekend before travelling to the USA, we had Discover Dogs at Earls Court. It's a fantastic show and this year they had a record amount of visitors with, I believe, around 25,000 in total. We had Freestyle demonstrations on both days which included Mary and she was also running a dog in the agility - quite successfully as she won one of the classes as well. Mary did her Mack & Mabel routine on both days but it is really difficult taking four dogs into the centre of London and anyone who has done so well tell you the hardest part is finding a piece of grass for them to go to the toilet. So, after much discussion, she decided to tailor the routine to suit just two dogs which in the end was very successful. Mary had to take three dogs anyway as she needed her Sheltie Gypsy for another session each day which was a 30 minute clicker training spot. It was meant to be a 15 minute spot but unfortunately the police display had to pull out due to operational difficulties, so Mary stepped in and extended her display time to 30 minutes and it was quite amazing how successful that was. The majority of the audience at Discover Dogs is general public but they have a huge thirst for knowledge. I think that's something that the television companies do not always understand when they continually only consider canine programmes that have a comical slant on dogs – there is a definite need for a serious dog training programme!

Mary had been planning for some months to have another puppy and during October the opportunity arrived. Paul Anderson who is a well-known competitor in the Obedience world was breeding a litter. This was a repeat litter and puppies from the previous breeding were absolutely stunning so Mary had no hesitation in saying ‘yes'. And they say that things are meant to be: some months prior Mary had decided that the next puppy was going to be called Levi and she was going to register it as Blue Jeans. Then when Mary went down to Harwich to look at the litter and make her choice it was quite unbelievable that - unbeknown to Mary - Paul Anderson had named one of the puppies Levi. So of course that was it and that was the one we had to have! Collection day didn't really fall very conveniently as after Mary and Dave had finished at Discover Dogs, they drove down to Harwich to collect Levi. And I think that if I said Mary was upset this would be an understatement as on the Wednesday just two days later, she was due to fly to the USA for a week. Oh, I had better mention of course that although she is renowned for her brown and whites, Mary now has a blue merle.


Mary had a great time in the USA. Gail Fisher's place which is just outside Boston is really something else. It's a huge kennel complex with lots of staff and a wonderful training hall. They made her feel very welcome and she really got on well with all the participants on the courses.

Dave, along with Mary's sister Tricia, looked after the puppy while she was away, so they were quite pleased that Levi was safe and sound when she got back.

Mary adores puppies and she loves doing her bit of training in the mornings with them and this puppy is an absolutely little cracker. She does just 15 to 20 minutes training each morning with him in the living room, nothing too strenuous and just enough to get the basics in while he is still young and impressionable, and less than a week after arriving home from the USA she had a Cabaret Evening in Cwmbran which had been arranged by Annette Crewe. As usual, this was a sell-out event with around 200 people in the audience and Mary decided to do just 10 or 15 minutes with Levi. Then she repeated this two days later when she did a Cabaret for Andy Moxham in Bristol. Again it was a sell-out with around 200 in the audience and little Levi was absolutely stunning. No lead and collar, 200 people sitting around the working area and he was totally focused on Mary showing off the bits he had learned during his sessions in the mornings. There was certainly a look of amazement on the faces of the people in the audience and I don't know if they actually believed that so much could be achieved in such a short time.

After this, Mary was ring manager at the Rugby DTC Christmas Agility Show and spent a week down at Olympia at the Kennel Club Olympia Agility Stakes Finals where Mary's husband Dave is the event organiser on behalf of the Kennel Club and Pedigree, then it was a family Christmas at home.

Prior to Christmas, Mary's new book came out of course and it has already proved to be a runaway success. There must be thousands of dog training enthusiasts who received it as a Christmas present; it is on sale in America, Australia, New Zealand and has already been reprinted into German, Dutch and Japanese would you believe!

The other news on the merchandise front is that there is a new video and DVD out called 'An Evening with Mary Ray'. This was filmed at a Cabaret Evening she did at the City of Birmingham Championship Show in September. She has the latest Crufts 2005 Mack & Mabel routine on it plus the ever-popular Glenn Miller routine and in the early part of the film, she demonstrates puppy training with a puppy she only met that day for the first time and the results she achieved with the clicker are quite stunning. Some of the people who have viewed it say this is the best video she has made yet.

Mary tries not to take too much on during the early part of the year as she likes to stay focused on Crufts. She will be in the Main Ring again performing her new routine just before Best in Show on the Sunday night, plus she has qualified for both the Dog and Bitch Championship Obedience competitions. Also at Crufts this year, Club HTM, who sell all of Mary's videos and DVDs are having a stand at Crufts. They will be in Hall 3: Stand 22. Oh, and she has one extra job at Crufts this year – the head of the Canine Sports Section at Samsung in South Korea, Bruce Jun is going to be competing in the International Agility Event at Crufts on Thursday 9th March. Unfortunately, due to quarantine, he cannot bring his own dog so Mary is going to find him a dog to borrow and look after and organise his training before the event. All the details about what Mary is doing at Crufts are on the Forthcoming Events page.

Just two weeks after Crufts, Mary will be in Barcelona training for Ian Davies then the first weekend in April she's off to Moscow. I think Dave is going to go with her and specifically the Moscow visit is about clicker training and promoting kind training methods. It appears that there is a group of high profile people in Russia saying that the only successful training method for dogs is the electric shock collar and unfortunately this has been made even worse by the fact that a USA specialist in this rather repulsive method of training has been over there giving them lessons on its use. Anyway, let's hope Mary can show them there is a better, alternative method.

Of course, the downside of travelling to Russia is that Dave had to apply for visas but you cannot apply for a visa unless you have an official invitation which had to be sent over from Moscow. Also the Russian Embassy will not take cheques or credit cards so it was a personal visit or a postal order at £30 each plus post office charges plus recorded delivery there and back which means that visa costs come out at not much less than £50 each and that, put together with the fact that there are no budget flights to Moscow, means that it's an expensive trip!

Mary has also taken a booking to do a routine and a demonstration at the All Winners Show in Amsterdam on 25/26 November. Having travelled the dogs by plane a couple of times last year and suffered the totally over the top 'jobsworth' procedure and horrendous cost, they will be driving up to Amsterdam which believe it or not is probably closer travelling via Harwich than to go to Mary's latest booking at Fort William in Scotland! Mary hasn't been to Scotland for a long time so on Tuesday 19 September she has a Cabaret Evening followed by a training day on the Wednesday. So, if you're within striking distance, that's the place to be in September and further details are on the Events page.

The next news item will be after Crufts now. Mary is well into practising her new routine which is to the music ‘All That Jazz' from the West End hit Chicago and as you will see from the Events page she is going to have a pretty busy time as usual at Crufts. Dave will have his normal role, organising some of the events and being the senior commentator for Agility, Obedience, Flyball and Heelwork to Music. And don't forget that for the first time, the Heelwork to Music Competition in the Special Events Ring on the Friday in Hall 3 is a real final and not an invitation event. It starts at with ten Freestylers followed by five Heelwork to Music competitors. This will be one of the highlights of the arena but whatever you do, make sure you arrive very early to get a seat.