News Update

The last update that we did when Mary was in Australia and she came back absolutely full of it. The Coolangatta Pet Motel was everything that had been described and more. The training complex they have built is just fantastic not only for training courses but also as a place for holiday with your dogs. They have already booked Mary to go back in October and told Dave that he has got to go with her! I understand that a lot of handling places have been booked along with all the onsite accommodation.

Mary with owners of the Coolangatta Pet Resort Ann & Tony Bulke and Ringo

Mary teaching in the new Coolangatta covered training area

Within two days of arriving back from Australia Mary had a cabaret night in Watford. Probably not the best timing for it as she was still a little bit jet lagged but it was on the way to Tunbridge Wells obedience show which was being held the next day. It was a very pleasant evening with just about 50 people in the audience. The following weekend it was back to long distance travelling as on the 3rd November Dave and Mary were on the early ferry out of Portsmouth to Guernsey.

Cabaret night in Guernsey

Saturday night there was a benefit dinner for Guernsey Animal Rescue and Mary was performing one of her Cabaret nights after the meal had been served. It was a really lovely evening, a great atmosphere with friendly people what more could you say? Well Dave and Mary could say one thing more and that was about the food, they served a carvery meal on the Saturday night which they said was absolutely wonderful and there was so much of it! And they thought the Americans liked their food! 

Mary busy teaching obedience in the super Island DTC training hall

The following day Mary did a clicker obedience/htm training day for the Island Dog Training Club at there wonderful training hall, It had been completly refurbished including a brand new hi tech non slip floor. On the Monday Dave and Mary had a little look around Guernsey and caught the high speed ferry back to the mainland that evening. Mine host for their stay in Guernsey was Jenny Mahy. Jenny has an absolutely charming cottage on a bay facing the sea and beach and she had a completely self contained two storey annexe which Dave and Mary were given stay in for the weekend.They said it was a wonderful place to stay and Jenny was a wonderful cook so I understand the hospitality was superb.

Jenny Mahy's Cottage where dave & Mary stayed, Well its a bit more than a cottage !!

The weekend following on the 11th/12th November was a busy weekend for both Mary and Dave as it was Discover Dogs at Earls Court. Dave was as usual doing a lot of organising and commentating in the main arena and Mary demonstrating her famous routines and once more she did a clicker training masterclass in the main ring. They also had a Mary Ray/HTM trade stand at the show run by Mary's sister Pauline. It seemed to be quite successful considering the limited range of goods that Mary and Dave sell.

I now know what Mary means when she moans at Dave about how much work he takes on for her because just three days later they were on a plane to San Francisco. Mary had been invited a long time ago by Barbara Norton and Bonnie Edwards from San Jose which is around 45 minutes from the centre of San Francisco. Mary was to be taking 2 days obedience/clicker training and 2 days freestyle. I don't know how Dave manages it but as he decided to go with Mary and he would have a go with his airmiles and his bonus offer from his Amex card. Mary's economy flight was paid for so he got her updated to business and on his deal he got an economy ticket for himself and then got that upgraded to business as well.This was with British Airways so of course business class has seats that turn into flying 6 foot beds - the jammy devils!

Mary with Bonnie & Barbara
On arrival at San Francisco International Airport they were met by Barbara and Bonnie,who are both retired teachers, and taken back to their homes in San Jose. They both lived in bungalows that were around 9 residences apart. So Bonnie moved into Barbaras and gave the keys to her home to Mary and Dave and that was home to them for the next 5 days.

Training at a fairground !!

They also gave Dave the keys to the car, now as he said to me, "Its bad enough driving on the wrong side of the road in your own vehicle but driving on the wrong side of the road in someone elses brand new, four wheel drive Volvo estate is another matter!" So I think as far as he went was to follow them to the venue in the morning and back again at night. Although I think he did say that one day he went out to a shopping mall but it was a very straight road there and back. Mary's course was held in a big hall at an exhibition centre, or I should say, a fairground/exhibition centre. A huge place with lots of places to walk the dogs. A specialist company brought in mats and fitted them in the working area.

The training hall

There was a separate team who looked after all the refreshments with superb food from breakfast onwards which was all included in the price for the participants. The Friday and Saturday were obedience and the Sunday and Monday were freestyle. There was a good spread of capabilities and some really good dogs and handlers on the course and I am told it wasn't all collies either - a very big variety of breeds as you get in most countries except for the UK. Mary and Dave said the hospitality they received on their visit was first class and one of the highlights for Dave was going to an American ice hockey match and we think our Rugger players are prone to fighting with each other! Although it appears that Mary nearly did lose Dave as he would insist on hanging on the side of the trolley car going up and down those famous hills in San Francisco, he said he just had to do it! There was a bit of an emergency on the return journey as it appears after a ten minute journey to the end of the runway in their jumbo someone at the back of plane in steerage smelt burning and I don't think the captain felt like a super hero so after spending 15 minutes searching through the back of the cabin they took the plane back to the terminal and unloaded all the luggage to be on the safe side. What should have been a 10 1/2 hour flight back turned in to a 13 1/2 hour flight.

One lady had a very game & loveable set of terriers

Well it does seem to be a busy time because two days after arriving back from San Francisco, Mary and Dave were on an overnight ferry to the Hook of Holland with 3 dogs in the car. They have vowed that unless it is an absolute exception they will never fly the dogs again, probably due to outrageous cost that bears no comparison with the cost for a human.

Big Audience for Mary's performance
You can pay £60 for a return ticket sat in a comfortable seat in the plane and over £300 for a collie in a box in the hold. But that is not the main reason. If you take a dog on the ferry all you need is its pet passport and on the return a duly stamped and completed veterinary form showing the necessary medication so when you come back into the UK on a ferry they check the single document and then scan the microchip on the dog and compare it to the detail in the passport then you drive on. Minimal fuss and adheres strictly with the latest DEFRA guidelines. But not so with our British Airlines, when you come back to the UK by plane the dog has to be taken through cargo before boarding the plane and the airline insist that reams of paperwork are completed that were superceded about 4 years ago. So after spending two or three hours in cargo and then there may have been a two or three hour flight from Europe and when you arrive at say Heathrow the dog is transported to the animal reception centre and it is generally two hours after the flight lands that you are able to get your dog. Then after being robbed on the price of the flight they have the nerve to ask you do you want to leave the travel crate with them - oh yes and I have just paid £75 for that. Why can't our airlines do exactly the same at the ferryport and other countries in the world and check just a single page document and scan the microchip on the dog and then let you have it from the baggage area which is exactly the procedure which should be followed according to the DEFRA website.

FCI Obedience Competition
Anyway, they had a good journey to Holland and then drove up to Amsterdam where Mary had been invited by Herman and Tina Honing who are the manager and secretary respectively of the Amsterdam Winner Dog Show. It was a very large FCI Championship show with breed, Agility and obedience competitions there as well and Mary on both evenings of the show did a musical routine and also gave a 30 minute master class on clicker training, hardly a seat vacant on both occasions. 

FCI Agility judged by Adri Van Den Bosch who judged in 2006 at the KC Agility Festival at Peterborough

Mary and Dave tell me that they were treated extremely well, first class accommodation at the Nova Hotel and some first class food as well. Dave asked me to pass on a special thank you to "Tom Tom" whose guidance got them to the venue first time!

Mary performing with Foxy

As they say there is no rest for the wicked! The following weekend Mary was out for her final trip of the year this time accompanied by her sister Pauline. It was back down to earth with a bump as far as posh travel was concerned as it was Easyjet from Luton to Turin. The obedience seminar had been organised by Nicky Rowley a British girl who has lived in Italy for many years in fact she liked it so much that she married Bruno an Italian but Mary was actually taking the course for Paulo Meroni who is one of the leading Italian agility and obedience competitors and Judges. As usual hospitality and company were excellent and she enjoyed the training as well and it sounds like they got some benefits from it. A couple of days after arriving back Mary had a cabaret evening in St Ives which is near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire and apart from a week down at the Christmas Horse of the Year show, Dave gave Mary Christmas off.

Mary working Levi

After Christmas of course Mary's thoughts turn to Crufts. She has got a new routine to put together and with 3 dogs qualified for the obedience championships lots of obedience to practise as well. On Wednesday 17th January Mary did a cabaret night for Roy Dyer in Brentwood. Roy is the manager of the Essex Dog Display Team and it was at their training centre that Mary did her night. What can I say? Just superb, a good size hall seating 120 people around the edges, a good working area for Mary, it was warm perhaps too warm at times, fully carpeted with its own PA and music system. A good size connecting hall next door where refreshments and sandwiches were included in the ticket price for all the audience but it is outside the venue where it really strikes you - in the grounds there are grass paddocks that look in pristine condition and two full size agility training areas with an all weather surface that is of course apart from the training and storage areas. All the separate areas were completely fenced with 6ft mesh fencing. Wouldn't you just die for a place like this? The evening itself was just superb it had all the ingredients for a wonderful atmosphere and Mary introduced their new Sheltie puppy Oz and showed what she had been doing with him with a clicker. He was 10 - 11 weeks old and even I was gob smacked!

A cuddle from Rooney

On the 24th January Mary did one of her evenings at Tomlinsons Boarding Kennels in Leicester. The owners have been in situ for just over a year. A really nice couple. It has got a doggy swimming pool in addition to a large purpose built training hall which has non slip rubbing flooring and a separate snack bar and kitchen. Another full house night but they just happened to choose the coldest night in January and the heating did struggle to cope but non the less a great success and I am sure that Mary will be at Tomlinsons again.

Mary's new Sheltie puppy OZ

The only other engagement that Mary has before Crufts is a Cabaret night down in Worthing. The venue is called the Assembly Rooms and it is a proper theatre type venue, very big and used by a lot of household name star acts. Mary did this for Finedon Downs Club last year it was hugely successful as she tells me Dave has benn told they have had a waiting list for the last three months.

A bit of fame for Dave, Being presented to Prince Charles' wife Camilla watched by the Olympia International Horse Director Simon Brooks Ward

We will just keep our fingers crossed for Mary at Crufts and no doubt I will put an update on the site straight after Crufts with details about how it all went. I see Dave intends to give Mary a rest after Crufts as I see from the calendar on the following three weekends she is in Iceland, Spain and Austria! She said that she made Dave promise not to take any more bookings for 2007. It is quite amazing really when you see how many countries that Mary has gone to, there can't be another trainer in the world that has been to the places Mary has been to. New places for this year are Iceland and St Petersburg Russia. Don't forget if you are in Ireland Mary is in Belfast at the end of May and after the very quick sell out of tickets last year Mary is doing two evenings some early contact with Michael McCartney might be in your interest.

The night at Tomlinsons Leicester