Crufts 2018 Report

As we’re writing this, we still seem to be living in a monsoon country, with Agility and Obedience Shows being cancelled including, of course, the Easter Show, where I was towed out for the very first time, even though our motorhome is a rear-wheel drive with twin wheels on the rear and diflock.  I had to stop half way across the field, so that was it and we’re just keeping our fingers crossed that Rugby Show survives the rain.  The last time we had to cancel our show, it was Rugby Borough Council who took the decision out of our hands on the Monday prior to the show and unfortunately by the time the weekend of the show arrived, the field had dried out but it was too late.

Having stopped selling wet weather clipboards (weather writer type), I have found another few boxes in my container, so these are the last ones and if anybody is interested in one – FB messages or email me on

Mary has had two Open Shows so far this year.  Prior to Crufts, she had the show at the Oak Ridge Arena at Newark and what a great venue that is.  It was a good start to the year with Lyric winning Open ‘C’ and Frankie winning Open ‘C’ and Levi, although on the road to retirement, getting a second place in Open ‘C’.

After Crufts, it was the outside show at Newark Showground and even after the rain Mary said that the working surface was good.  She enjoyed the show and there was lots going on in the showground as well as another first place in ‘C’ for Lyric and a 5th place in ‘C’ for Frankie.

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It was good to have a rest after Crufts, if you could call clearing the aftermath.


Crufts 2018

I did say at the time that this was the best and the worst Crufts we’ve ever had, so read on.

Mary just loves Crufts and that all started in 1979 when she made her first visit to the event.  You have to bear in mind that Mary only discovered dog training clubs in 1978 so it all happened fairly quickly for her, so when she was asked whether she would like to join some others to go to Earls Court, she jumped at the chance and that was that – she caught the Crufts bug!  I do remember her telling me about standing on the balcony, watching what was going on and little did I realise at the time how much dogs would take over our lives or that I would be writing this 39 years later.

This was going to be a milestone year for Mary, firstly because Levi was going to retire.  Levi is probably one of the most well-known dogs in the UK at the moment as well as other parts of the world, a huge winner in Obedience, having, during his career, won 56 Championship classes and 39 second places (Reserves) in Championship and unbelievably over 120 Open ‘C’ wins.  Also, as we all know, he has performed some marvellous routines with Mary in her Heelwork to Music demonstrations and is just so very very clever.  Mary usually just retires a dog quietly, not being one for having retirement parties for dogs, but this year was going to be party time for Levi after his final round in the Obedience Championship Finals.  She had already retired Levi from Heelwork to Music previously, drinks and snack by her bench lots & lots of cards and some wonderful gifts and presents and what a great final result for him in the Dog Championships, second place.

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The other momentous thing that was happening was that it was to be Mary’s final year performing Heelwork to Music on Best in Show Night at Crufts.  After twenty-one years of performing a routine on this special night, routines that were followed by dog handlers and enthusiasts throughout the world, this was to be the year that she was hanging up her dancing shoes – but not by choice.  We were told that the Kennel Club was revamping the Best in Show programme and there would be no more Heelwork to Music performances on this in future.  So it was the end of an era.

I was commentating on all four days, so we did benefit from a room at the Hilton Hotel and moved in on the Wednesday.  We had five dogs with us, well three and two little ones really, and on the Thursday morning as usual Mary went out with the dogs before 7am, giving me a chance to get ready and be ‘booted and suited’ – and arrived back at the room in tears and covered in mud.  The grass around the hotel was muddy, there had been a big freeze and she’d fallen over and more or less done the splits.  She actually heard something tear in her leg and was pretty distraught.  Her memorable words for me were “That’s my Crufts over.”  Anyway, I don’t know how she managed it but she was quite determined and so after a ‘steady as you go’ day on the Thursday and Friday, albeit with a limp and a lot of pain, she had improved a little by Saturday which was Lyric’s Bitch Obedience Championships day.  She was so pleased with the way she worked and lots of people said what a stunning round she had, but unfortunately she didn’t hear Mary on the recall from the Sendaway, so a second command was needed which put her out of the running for the winning slot but she was really pleased to get fourth place with her.

Saturday night was a dress rehearsal for the Sunday evening Heelwork to Music slot, so a worrying moment as far as what Mary’s leg would be like, but she survived the rehearsal albeit taking extra care.

Crufts Sunday was Levi’s big day.  He was working early and put in a stunning round that we were told was pretty near perfect.  Mary was so pleased for him as he’s twelve years old and still a great dog.  She was also pleased that his final competition round would earn him second place in the Obedience Championships at Crufts.  Mary had a table set up with drinks and nibbles for lunch time and she got a huge number of presents and cards – in addition to the ones that she received for being at the Championships in the first place – so it was just an amazing day for her.  But she still had one very special gig to perform in the Main Ring.  It was a packed audience of what I believe was around 7,000 people and this year she was using Lyric and Frankie again as she was doing a montage of previous routines, being joined for part of the final performance by our great friend Richard Curtis.  I would have to say that Richard has been so supportive of Mary for many years now and Mary has greatly appreciated his input into her performances.  This year, she needed a hat stand and if you’ve seen the routine then you’ll probably remember that she hung some of her clothing on this.  I did buy one from eBay for a whole £8.95 including delivery, and it wasn’t really a surprise that that wasn’t good enough, so Richard’s partner Andrew made one out of wood and it’s just superb.  He made it himself and even shaped all the wood for the top of it. I’m still absolutely amazed at what he managed to do even though it took weeks to do it, and fully finished it would fetch a lot of money in a specialist shop.  But it’s not going to waste as it now has pride of place in our hallway.

It was a long routine this year of around six minutes and was a collection of previous routines, starting with Glenn Miller, followed by Barnum with Richard and the Bonny Scotland routine and finishing with Mack and Mabel which is one of my favourites.  Before Mary started, they played a DVD on the large screen in the arena with a selection of her routines, starting with Glenn Miller and it really was a superb little montage of everything she’d done previously.  Mary then entered the arena and performed her routine and I’m still amazed at how well she managed after the injury she had on the Thursday morning but she did and it was a superb finale.  At the end, Richard and Pauline collected the dogs from Mary and I took her to the front of the arena in front of the red seats and at this point she was actually completely unaware that there was going to be a presentation in the arena for her. Vanessa McAlpine, who is show manager at Crufts and we’ve known for over twenty years and have the greatest respect for, was presenting Mary with her memento of Crufts – a beautiful, heavy, large, cut crystal vase which was superb.  Then, just at the point when Mary was going to leave the arena, we had a huge standing ovation from the audience.  So it was a very touching moment. When Mary arrived back at the dressing there was a huge bouquet of flowers waiting for her complements of Crufts to put in her vase.

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Well, I did describe Crufts as the best and the worst we’ve ever had so you can perhaps understand me saying that.  On the day I’m typing this, it’s our fortieth wedding anniversary so it’s thirty-nine years since Mary went to Crufts for the first time and if you’d asked me when we got married in 1978 we would be in dogs for the next forty years I would never have believed you.  But what a great time we’ve had so far.



News Update:

I could say that I’m a little late with the update but it doesn’t really describe it as it’s only around a year late! Some serious holes in this with shows missed out through lack of typing time.

The big news about Crufts is that Mary has been told that the Kennel Club have decided that 2018 will be the last time Mary performs a routine in the main arena at Crufts; they are revamping the main arena programme for 2019 so there will be no Heelwork To Music on Best In Show Night after this year.  We have known about this for a while and had decided not to say anything yet, but it has been printed in the Kennel Gazette hence our post on Facebook. This news and attracted a lot of comment on Facebook which was not our intention.

The membership magazine for the Kennel Club is called the Kennel Gazette and the pre Crufts edition has a feature on Mary.  It’s a potted history with photographs over 3 pages and a brilliant read, so I will put it on the website shortly.

We are at this moment looking forward to Crufts where I’m commentating as usual and Mary is also, as usual, putting her routine together for the Main Ring.  It is going to be a bit special this year as it’s the last one, so it’s really worth watching.  I have no doubt that, as usual, Channel 4 will not broadcast it on television, so there are two choices – Best in Show Night tickets are now on sale via the Crufts website or it will be live streamed via the Crufts website.

Mary has also started putting in some extra training for the Obedience Championships.  Lyric is drawn 15th in the Bitch Championship on Saturday and Levi is drawn 2nd in the Dog Championships on Sunday Levi has been such a good dog and it’s really a sad year because Mary is retiring him at Crufts.  So not only sad but it’s also a celebration of what a marvellous career he’s had in Obedience and Heelwork to Music.  On the home front, he’s just been a lovely dog to live with – a real gentleman and he still sleeps every night on a rug next to our bed.  Let’s hope he has a long retirement.

At the moment, Mary’s sister Pauline is getting a little nervous at the thought of Crufts!  She has been chosen to be a member of the Midlands team in the Inter-Regional Obedience Competition at Crufts.  Pauline has lived in our annexe now for just over a year and when she moved in, she really wanted her own dog and the result of that was a lovely Blue Merle called Lynx from a little bred by Anna Herzog and sired by our Levi.  She’s absolutely thrilled to have gone from Novice to having won one ‘A’ in the one season.

We had our usual quiet family Christmas with a few relations and guests, but it was lovely this year because for the first time in 25 years I didn’t have to go to Olympia to run the Kennel Club Agility Stakes Finals.  I had decided to retire from this position which meant that I also did not have to get heavily involved in all the preparation for the event.  This did give me the opportunity to go to Rugby DTC’s Dogs Christmas Party which I’ve missed all these years as it always fell on Olympia week.

Having retired from running the Olympia Agility Finals We were honoured to be invited into the Kennel Clubs hospitality box to watch the Saturday evening performance at the Olympia International Horse Show and even more honoured to be invited as a guest in the Presidents box on the Sunday evening, we did enjoy our non-doggie weekend in London prior to Christmas, Mary even wore a “frock” !!, it has been a long time we stayed away without the dogs so it was a rare occurrence for us, lots of shopping in and out of Olympia and I tried the old trick of leaving my credit card at home but sadly that did not work.

In November, we had what I think is now our annual trip to Northumberland where Mary did a demonstration evening on the Friday followed by training on Saturday and Sunday – which also included a good night on Saturday when we went out for a meal with everyone.  They are a lovely group of people and very welcoming.  We nearly did miss the start of the evening, however, and I think we all know the feeling when you set off for a long journey a little later than planned then caught up in long delays due to accidents and this delay actually put us into the worst rush hour night of the week around Newcastle, so it was a bit of a panic getting everything ready once we arrived at the venue which is Northumberland Canine Centre, it’s just North of Newcastle  It is a smashing venue for Obedience – fully carpeted and well lit, so an ideal place.  But of course, in November when it’s cold, as with any barn-type building, it does get a little chilly, even with heaters on. Mary enjoyed the training and everyone was very hospitable as usual.

Later in October, we had Discover Dogs as usual.  We have both done every single Discover Dogs since it started, which is probably about fifteen years ago.  Mary did a most entertaining demonstration of training techniques with the dogs, as usual, Lyric was the star of the show and I think everyone fell in love with little Yoko.  She also performed her current Crufts routine – and it was a full house every time she was in the arena.  Also as usual, I was commentating and ensuring the arena ran to plan so it was a good weekend in good company.  Sadly, because of a clash in dates, Mary had to miss East Grinstead Championship Show which was the final one of the season and which is always a sore point.

In early October, Cheshire Championship Obedience Show was entered which Mary had entered and we were looking forward to it as it was at a super new venue and we could camp on site.   But then disaster struck as monsoon-type rain arrived and having seen the photographs the beautiful grass areas turned into mini lakes, so it was with a sad heart that they had to cancel the show.  Having had to cancel one of our own shows a few years ago, I do know that it’s harder work to cancel than it is to run it, so this was really bad news for the committee.  However, we did have a donation from the show for the defibrillator fund, so our thanks go to the committee for that.

At the end of September we were off to the Elm park/Thurrock  weekend, where the problem is not so much the distance but more the roads we had to travel on, namely down the M1 then along the M25 to Essex.  This show has been held for years at Orsett Showground which is a great place for a dog show, lovely flat grass for the rings and a massive field to exercise your dog.  The downside is, of course, that Essex seems to be Travellers’ Utopia, so the entrance gate had to be manned at all times.  Mary had a great weekend though, as you will be able to see from the results.  But the most amazing result was Mary and Lyric winning the Bitch Ticket on the first day with Dot winning the Dog Ticket, then on the second day it was a repeat – how amazing is that! Judges were Stella Henstridge and Michelle Newman, lyric also won an open C under Bill Larkin, not forgetting young Frankie winning Open C under Jude Stone.         I must just mention what a great team they have running Elm Park and Thurrock and there’s always a smile when you arrive, from the ‘hostesses with the mostesses’ on the front gate.

In September, Mary has her annual week at the Birmingham shows, camping for nine nights at Sandwell Valley Park with a few hundred others.  It’s such a popular week’s holiday now, with two consecutive weekends of competitions including Championships.  Having made arrangements with the management to reserve Mary’s usual parking place due to the fact that we didn’t get back from the evening in Cwmbran until 1:00 am, all was well with Mary having the spot she’s always had for the last few years.  In fact, I think most people have established where they want to camp for the nine nights and that’s where they go every year.  It’s a great week with group training sessions and other activities taking place during the week, lots of dog walking options and a short walk into West Bromwich Shopping Centre.  In fact, the most amazing thing is that this Country Park is just a short walk away from an extremely busy town centre and suburbs.  Mary judged B Dog on one show day and she was also one of the judges for the Battle of the Sexes competition that took place on Friday 22nd September.  I was also asked to do the commentary and it was a light-hearted competition so I did try to make light-hearted commentary to match.  There were four judges sitting at the tables and it was judged Strictly Come Dancing style.  And the eventual winners were the girls!  In short, it was a great idea and really enjoyed by all and the whole event, including various raffles, riding horses etc was all about raising funds for Macmillan Nurses – and I have to say that it was absolutely brilliant!So well done to the Prince family as well as to Jan Green who was also fundraising for Macmillan and part of the whole party atmosphere.  It wouldn‘t surprise me if over £2K was raised.

On Thursday evening, Mary had an evening booked in Cwmbran for Annette.  She had been talking about having Mary back to Wales for a long time and after various bouts of ill-health, was in a position to be able to do so.  We knew this was going to be a little difficult for us because of Mary having to be at Sandwell Valley Park in the camper by the next morning, but hey ho that’s the way it goes.  We were at a sports centre with the usual polished floor but Annette had managed to get hold of some exhibition carpeting for the ring area and we had a pretty full house of people as well.  The stars of the show were no doubt Lyric and Yoko, both being great performers who really enjoy what they do.  We piled everything into the VW van so that we could have a quick journey which wasn’t so quick going due to traffic problems but certainly quick coming back, although it is still quite a long haul but it was a very appreciative audience.

The first weekend in September, as usual, we were in Anglesey for a week for Mary’s annual week’s course.  To avoid the manic rushing about, Mary decided that she would give Lichfield Show a miss and travel to Anglesey on the Saturday to Rex and Maggie’s farm where the training week is based.  It was also a little unfortunate this year as the weather was very Welsh or, in other words, very wet, which is a great shame because when it’s lovely then it’s a brilliant place to be.  But it was a good week nonetheless and I think it was only me who suffered as I didn’t get out on my Honda scooter much, being a fair-weather rider.  There were some lovely people on the course as usual, with nearly all of our ‘regulars’ and it was all very well organised by Maggie and Rex – oh, and I did food including a barbecue, a soup and crusty bread night and we also went for our usual meal out at a great local hotel with the longest dining table I’ve ever seen so that we could all get round it.  As usual, everyone enjoyed the week but Mary decided that she would like to have a break from it next year so there will be no Anglesey training week in 2019.  Therefore, anyone interested in the 2018 event should contact Maggie sooner rather than later.

On the Sunday, the day after we arrived home, Mary was on her usual trip to Coventry Obedience Show which is a nice easy local one and Levi got the reserve ticket under Richard kebble

One of the regular pupils on Mary’s monthly training day is Danielle.  She has made amazing progress with her dogs, especially when you consider the severe disabilities she has.  Two years ago, Mary did a fundraising evening for her and with a two year gap, Danielle asked Mary to repeat the exercise to raise welcome funds for ‘Dogs for Good’.  It really was a great night; the dogs were on superb form, the ticket included home-made cakes, the atmosphere was wonderful and the star of the show was once more little Yoko.  This week Mary had purchased a mini trampoline, so we had to take that with us but I don’t think she will be a champion acrobat in the near future but it was good to watch, and she also demonstrated the trick and treat machine which, again, was amazing to watch.  So yes, it was a really good night and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it even though the area where Mary was to finish with her Singing in the Rain routine which she performed on a smallish area but it still looked very good.

On the end of August Bank Holiday weekend, Mary did a Saturday and Sunday at Wakefield Championship Show – nice people, nice venue, nice show so what more can you say.  The bonus being that we were parked in our favourite spot and it was fairly level ground for Mary to get over to the rings.   Not a bad competition weekend either. Levi won the Champ Dog judged by Mick Vessey, Lyric got the Champ reserve under Richard Kebble

On the Monday of the BH weekend, Mary had entered Worcester so I stayed at home while she and Pauline went off to the show. Lyric won herself a win in Open C under Rob Pugh and the reserve champ ticket under Sandy Wadhams.

This is probably a good time to mention that Mary’s sister Pauline, having been made redundant, moved into our annexe in Autumn 2016 and also got herself a Levi puppy from Anna Herzog His name is Lynx and he’s looking to be pretty brilliant, in her first season she has had 4 wins & 5 seconds in Novice and one win in A and a place in B.

One of our favourite August shows is Ditton weekend but what isn’t a favourite is the journey there and back.  Going was actually quite good but it was a complete nightmare coming back with heavy rain, spray, accidents, diversions – you name it, we had the lot.  BUT it was a lovely show on a lovely venue.  It’s also great when you have one where they do evening meals in the clubhouse – we can recommend the chicken curry!  Mary had a good weekend and we were parked adjacent to the rings which was very helpful for her. Lyric go herself a reserve place in Champ Class under Janet Bates and an Open C win under Pat Burford, Levi got himself a Open C win under Denise Harrild.

Mary entered the well run show at Winchester, great venue and good parking, our only star today was Frankie winning his first open C under Marnie Wells, Ohhhh well there was another star and it was Pauline with Lynx who won,  It is a shame

There were more shows not had chance document everything but I can say that during the 2017 season:

Sarkam Sinatra “Frankie” had 11 x Class B wins & 3 x Class C wins

Ob.Ch Sarkam Sings The Blues“Lyric” had 4 x wins and 8 x reserves in Championship C & 11 x Open C wins

Ob.Ch Colliewood Blue Jeans “ Levi “ 6 x wins and 7 x reserves in Championship C  & 9 x Open C wins/

On 1st July it was the Chadkirk one day show at Bramham Park – a lovely peaceful venue and, as usual, a very well organised show.  But unfortunately the Ticket rings are in a different field to the Open classes, although they are adjacent.  The good news was that we were parked right outside the Ticket rings.  It always seems a little bit in the middle of nowhere although Bramham Park is just outside Stockport so I always think driving in “Thank God for Satnav”.  The driveway in which sometimes feels like a ‘track’ is very well wooded with low hanging branches as well, so taking the motor home was a non-starter. Levi still on form winning the Champ Class under Ray Wakelyn, Frankie getting another B under judge Mo Graham and Lyric picking up another reserve in Champ Bitch and a second in open C

After our trip to Chadkirk on the Sunday, it was down to Cippenham.  Being a little cramped in the VW van and the show being a bit closer, we decided to take the motor home for the day which, of course, is much more comfortable for travel and during the day for the dogs. Mary had another great day and it was to be Frankie’s first Open ‘C’ class which Mary decided would be a training round for the first one Lyric getting another reserve in Championship Bitch and a Open C win under Anna Herzog, Levi settling for a 3rd in ticket.

As usual, we were over to Daventry for Mary’s training camp.  We opened it up for everyone to arrive on the Saturday even though the course was not due to start until the Monday as it has become something of a social event as well as a serious training course.  This year, there were one or two new faces as well as the regulars and certainly everyone commented that they really enjoyed their week and found it very constructive.  In-between this, of course, we had plenty of food including – for the first time – a Chinese/Indian meal night, freshly cooked in the kitchen by our chef Heather. Oh, and that was accompanied by copious amounts of Pimms.  This year the weather was so good that it was too good, so numerous paddling pools were filled around the working areas and gazebos were also erected for handlers to sit under. The surprise of the week for Mary was when Jill Houston from Australia turned up with Lesley Wilks.  It appears that Lesley had been hiding her away for a couple of days, ready to surprise Mary.  She had a really good few days and did a little bit of work with Mary’s dogs at times – and obviously joined us with Lesley for the hospitality.  But what was she going to do for the weekend as we were off to Carmarthen in the motor home?  Well, it didn’t take much decision as she came with us and I had the pleasure of her keeping me company in the front while Mary and Pauline relaxed as usual in the back.  If anyone wants to join us on Mary’s Daventry course, I have started a waiting list for 2018.  I always give first priority to the previous year’s participants but circumstances dictate that there will be one or two who cannot make it, so the earlier you’re on the waiting list the better.  Update all working places taken but we have a reserve places or spectator places available.

The last weekend in June was Carmarthen Show and last year we left Mary’s course at Daventry at around 2:30 pm and the journey was absolutely horrendous, especially on the M4 from Cardiff to Carmarthen.  Hence, this year Mary finished the course on Thursday evening and we were away from Daventry at around 10:30 am – and had a great run.  Unfortunately, we appeared to have left all the good weather in Daventry and received a good dose of Welsh weather, very breezy with rain at times and not helped by the fact that the surface of the showground was not the most pristine I have ever seen.  Nonetheless, it wasn’t a bad weekend and a remarkably good journey back on the Sunday evening.

Just adding to Jill’s trip out with us, she remarkably had two good nights of sleep on the side seats of the motorhome where she could just about stretch out in her sleeping bag, compliments of Jan Morse.  Food was a little more challenging as Jill is a vegan so at times she did have to resort to being a bit of a vegetarian due to the poor availability of vegan meals which, she tells us, is quite different to Australia where vegan food is readily available everywhere.  And there was me thinking they all lived on kangaroo steaks and Fosters!  Frankie was the star of the show with two class B wins but forgetting another reserve in Champ C for Levi

In early June, Mary takes a three day mid-week course for Angela White at the IABTC at Haxey.  As with Mary’s Daventry week, there were some new faces but a number of regulars as well.  This is a lovely venue with a carpeted hall and some good company so what more could you want, especially when the training part went so well with lots of positive feedback. The big bonus this year was that instead of taking 30 minutes to get up the drive, it took a fraction of that as the drive had been resurfaced, taking place again on 5th – 7th June 2018.

We had a long haul up to St Marys, Frankie got another B under Ann Young, Levi got a reserve in the Champ under Fran Herron, one of the few clubs that produce all their catering which is scrumptious and lovely group running the show.

The first week in June was another couple of Mary’s favourite shows.  On the Sunday it was Petersfield show; beautiful working surface, great parking under the trees and, most importantly, not too far from the rings for Mary which can sometimes make life very difficult for her but we are reticent to ask for any special favours as far as parking is concerned.  Petersfield always has a good team running the show, Levi got himself a reserve (2nd) in the Champ

On the Saturday, it was Basingstoke, set in the town centre park which was very picturesque and probably the closest to a town centre that I have ever seen a show albeit still having good access from the road network which I needed of course as we were in our motorhome which is a little on the long side at over 9 metres and 3.5 metres high!  It was a good working surface and a well organised and laid-out show. Frankie got B win under Brian Reed, for Levi it was an Open C win and for Lyric it was a second in open C under Jo Edwards and the same in ticket under judge Gerard this would be one of many reserve Ch places in 2017.

On the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of Mary we made our usual trip up to Waldridge Fell for their weekend show on the country park.  This was the first year of management for the new show secretary and what an excellent job she did with her team.  It is a great place to park up, not too far from the rings and a good surface as well.  Mary won the Dog Ticket with Levi  under Denise Robertson and had the annual run-off for the trophy for the overall Best Championship Dog.  And … she won it again! So it was a really good weekend for her, it was also Levi’s weekend as well as he won two Open C’s under judges Karen Davies & Sharon Dunston, we should call it a boys weekend with Frankie winner two B Dogs under judges Pamela Lochrie & Janice Woodcock.

The two weekends prior to this were another two of our favourite shows, the most recent being Loughborough.  There are always such nice people running these shows and Loughborough is no exception – a good venue with a good ring surface, it has historically always suffered if we’ve had wet weather before the show – possibly because I believe it’s clay – so a few had a little difficulty but it was all solved by Tony Lewis, and we did enjoy the fast caravan racing exit of the vans with caravans on the back on the judges’ side of the parking area. Mary had a successful weekend again and we are lucky that Loughborough lets us have the same spot each year, being just in front of the club house. So it does mean that she can get back to the van and have the odd rest between working the dogs. Probably no secret that Mary has Rheumatoid Arthritis so as far as parking is concerned every little helps.  As usual, I loaned Loughborough my pa set and battery and certainly the move of the secretary’s marquee over to next to the club house has made my life easier as far as setting it up is concerned, Levi was our top dog of the weekend after winning the Championship Dog class under Alison Gresty. But must not forget young Frankie winning B under judge John Taylor/

The weekend prior was Wirral and another of our favourite shows. parking adjacent to the rings so not too far for Mary to walk to the rings. This was a good weekend for Mary competitively and a nice day out for me, going to Liverpool with Ray Morse on the ferry plus a few pints down on the Riverside Inn which is just a few minutes walk from the venue through the country park – in other words ‘paradise’.  As usual, I also loaned Wirral my battery powered pa set. Its another one of our favourite venues and run by the lovely crowd from Wirrel Club, oh and must not forget (Mr Roastie) the caterer who does a great take away roast dinner and apple crumble pudding. Highlight of the weekend was Levi winning the Championship Dog class under Richard Burbage.

The first weekend in May is all about the Rugby DTC Championship Show.  This takes up our life in the run-up to the show but then everyone who runs a show will understand that statement.  We’re very lucky having such a good venue which we hire mostly from Rugby Borough Council who have been quite helpful, but it does get more expensive and this year we were charged for the set-up day as well.  But we can’t complain as it is a good venue and, of course, we are indebted to St Andrew’s Rugby Football Club for not only giving us the use of their pitch but also giving us ‘the run of the house’.  I have the keys as we can do whatever we like there which is gratifying for the club to be put into such a trusted position, even if it does mean that I have to pull some pints on a Saturday afternoon as I also double up as a barman to our thirsty helpers.  We had good weather this year, the council, as requested, had cut the grass, and it was just a lovely show.  Also we finished about the earliest we ever have for two reasons, we believe: firstly we had a high number of competitors who did not turn up on the day and – we think – because this was the once every few years that we were not on a Bank Holiday weekend,  our entries were down slightly. So that was  a little disappointing although I have to say that our helpers were quite pleased s this was the earliest we had ever got loaded and off the venue!, the highlight for Mary was Levi getting 1st place in the Dog Championships under Peter Lubbi. Frankie had a B win under judge Colin Huntley.

As I said Leicester was on the previous weekend to Rugby and it was a good show for Mary and Lyric with an Open C win under Christine Bland and the Championship Bitch under Sue Howell.

At the end of April it was our annual trip to Oxhey Show – I don’t know how many years we’ve been going there! It’s a nice venue with lovely people running it, good parking and a show that Mary likes to attend. She always asks me to take the motor home which more comfort and more room for the dogs.  I should say that when we’re in the motor home, Rooney, Ozzy, little Yoko and Vinnie travel and spend their day inside and not in the on-board fitted kennelling . I’m sure that I would also like to go in the motor home everywhere BUT it’s a very tight entrance into the venue and around the trees to get to the parking area.  I did it in my last motorhome but decided not to risk it with this one, Levi got a Open C win under Graham Paul Cooke also Frankie had a B win under John Taylor

The following day it was the BAGSD show and Mary was well pleased with an Open C win for Lyric Suzie Duke and a Open C win for Levi under Graham Wellings

Earlier in April, Mary took a Young Kennel Club Obedience Training Day at the Rugby Barn.  She really enjoyed this and got a lot of satisfaction herself in seeing how keen the young handlers were.  Hence, this will be repeated in 2018 on the 7th April.

The first big competitive event of the year was the Midland Border Collie Easter Show, run very competently by Sheila Hyde and her team.  The weather is always a consideration, no matter how good the ground is at this time of year but it was not bad and better than some of the rainy times we’ve had at this show over the years. So it’s always a little bit of a concern to me as my motorhome weighs approaching 7 tonnes.  This is another show that uses my outdoor pa system and another show that Mary really enjoys, especially as we are allowed to park ringside. A great show for Mary with Lyric she won the Championship C under Emma Lavender and open C under Tammy Wallace, Levi under Judge Steve Fraser got the reserve ticket in the CH Class.

Crufts was a resounding success for Mary this year, the first year using Frankie and Lyric for her Main Ring Heelwork to Music performance it was a joy to watch !!  – Singing in the Rain was a brilliant choice of music especially as it was the original version by Gene Kelly and it has been recognised as one of the best that she’s ever done and the dogs were just brilliant.  Two versions were put on by the Kennel Club, the first one on Facebook which was posted on the night she did it and the second directly onto YouTube.  The Facebook copy on YouTube rapidly progressed to 2.6 million views with the Crufts YouTube channel version catching up fast.  As usual, there were a lot of upset people as it was not broadcast on television and I did ask the question why not and the answer given was that the Channel 4  thought it was an “internet thing”.  Of course the biggest thrill for Mary was Getting the reserve place (2nd) in the Championships under judge Alan Gresty with Lyric and Levi getting the 3rd place.

I personally, had a great time commentating which I really enjoy.  I have now retired from most of my Kennel Club commitments including the fact that after 26 years I have given up running the KC Agility Stakes Finals at the Olympia International Horse show. But I may continue with Crufts whilst I’m needed as I still have a voice.

After Crufts, Mary jetted off to Tampa, Florida to see her sister with Pauline leaving me with some assistance to look after all the dogs.  I did manage to get two business class seats for the outward journey by cashing in some very old air miles I had but unfortunately I didn’t have enough for the return, so was expecting her to get off the plane crippled when she got back from a nine hour economy seat journey, BUT the ‘jammy devils’ – when she got on the plane it was half empty, so they had a block of seats to themselves and did actually lie down on the way back. How lucky was that!

They both had a great time.  It’s not a posh hotel or resort where they stay, it’s just a small development of apartments with a small swimming pool and somewhere to meet in the evening for the local people.  And I understand the same group always goes back for the first three months of the year every year including Mary’s sister Margaret and her husband Hugh.

Mary’s 2016 News

All about Crufts 2016 at the end!

Well, we’re at that time of year again – Crufts 2017 is approaching and not only does this affect us because of Mary, but we also handle all the bookings for Rugby’s dog barn and we have just had so many people wanting to use it in the January/February period it’s untrue, so it has been a rather large task just to keep up with the bookings and fitting everyone in with where they want to be and when.  That’s the problem with having such a great building available.  This was compounded by the fact that I decided to go on holiday in January with my mate Roger as usual, when we were away for sixteen days, so I’ve had a bit of a log-jam in trying to get on top of everything since coming back hence it was probably a mistake to go on a long distance holiday to India and Nepal at this time of year.

Mary has been invited once more by the Kennel Club to perform a routine in the main arena on Sunday night and her rehearsals are going really well at the moment.  She’s pleased where she is with it, plus she is fitting in some additional obedience practice ready for the championships, so I would probably say that January and February are the most stressful and busy two months of the year.  The routine is scheduled for 7:10 pm on the Sunday evening which is 12th March and, as usual, it will be streamed live by the Crufts website.  We would like to say that it will probably be on television but it may or may not according to the decision of the television producer.

You have to add to the above, of course, the fact that at the end of January Rugby DTC ran their Heelwork to Music Show including the Crufts HTM Semi Final at the Kennel Club building, Stoneleigh and which we are both heavily involved with.

Late last year, Mary’s sister Pauline was made redundant and she decided to change her life completely.  I don’t think she could face working another ten years until her retirement and fortuitously, I suppose is the word, at that time the guy who was renting our annexe decided to move hence she decided to move in with us.  So, yes, I now have two women telling me what to do – in fact I call them Wife No 1 and Wife No 2!  After all these years of living by herself and managing a Post Office, I think the term to use is “living the dream” as she also has herself a super little puppy from the litter that Levi sired.

In November, we did a weekend at the Northumberland dog training centre again.  They are such lovely people and it’s a great venue, fully carpeted, kitchen facilities, in fact everything you need for dog training and I would really love to order some sunshine and warmth for the weekend that we go!  Mary did an ‘evening’ on the Friday night although confusingly I got my wires crossed and didn’t realise that we were actually doing one but it all worked out fine in the end. It’s almost a year now since we bought a new motorhome and when you’re in places like this, it really does come into its own, having somewhere warm and comfortable to stay.  Apart from the memories of the doggy part of the weekend, they took us out for a meal on the Saturday evening to a local pub/restaurant and I have to say that it’s one of the best meals we have ever had and, in my case, the biggest and most delicious ham hock I’ve ever seen on a plate!

In October, Mary was booked to host an evening for Dima in North London but a couple of weeks previous to that date one of our most respected colleagues at Rugby DTC, Beryl Draper, passed away.  She had been a member for over forty years so it was very saddening for us all and, as bad luck would have it, the funeral was on the day of the ‘evening’ Mary was taking for Dima.  We are not religious but Beryl and her husband David were heavily involved with the local church and I have to say that it’s probably the best service both at the crematorium and the local church that we’ve ever been to – it was a truly great send-off for Beryl.  So I think it was something like 4 pm when we had to jump straight in the van direct from the church to drive straight down to London for the evening and fortunately everything worked out well.

Also in October, we had our regular weekend booking for Jacqui Muir at Jarrow held at the usual St peters church hall.  We had a good place on the car park, Mary knows a lot of people and it was another good weekend in good company.

It was a great shame that Tunbridge pulled out at their show at Ardingley but fortunately East Grinstead continues, always a well run show were it’s the last chance for catching to be done with friends at the end of the season and of course the last chance of the year to get that important win or place for most competitors.

As usual, in late October we were at the Kennel Club’s Discover Dogs Show at the Excel Exhibition Centre, South East London.  It is a great venue for a show with our hotel just outside the front door, lots of grass to walk the dogs around on and a great audience as well.  Mary performed her 2016 routine each day plus she did a training demonstration.  This was also the first big trip out for Yoko, our latest acquisition.  When I say ‘big trip’, I mean to a massive exhibition centre because she was going to be part of the demonstration in the arena.  Also in the breed booths he was to meet some of the other Miniature Pinschers on the Miniature Pinscher Club Stand.  I think they were quite thrilled at the fact that Mary has one of their breed and we did have the president of the club over in the collecting ring with a few photographs taken and, of course, Yoko enjoyed her visit to their stand.  She is certainly a little character and you do have to be careful about leaving anything about that is chewable and, if you’re old enough, you will know the reason why I call her Zebedee (boing-boing!)  So, of course, we were destined to finish up with ten dogs in the house again including Pauline’s new acquisition – yes, the world has gone mad!

There were two highlights in September, firstly our week in Anglesey at Maggie and Rex’s farm.  This is a training week for Heelwork to Music and Obedience, but Rex also has a full set of competition equipment in the field and he takes some handlers for Agility training as well, so they do have a really good choice of disciplines.  It’s a nice, compact training hall/converted barn with a non-slip floor; in fact, it was seeing the floor there that was behind the decision we made on the surface we were going to have at the Rugby DTC training barn! Quite a number of handlers on the course come annually and being not too far from some lovely beaches, it’s a really good week as well as having a short holiday as well.  So what more can you say, being a good week in very pleasant company, in a lovely spot – what more to want!  The only hiccup we had was that two of our friends and colleagues at Rugby DTC decided to get married on the Saturday that we were due to travel to Anglesey and we definitely did not want to miss the wedding of the year when Paul Grant and Richard Burbage got themselves married at a very posh hotel near Stratford on Avon.  And, as anticipated, it was without doubt the grandest wedding that we have ever ever been to in every way!  But due to travelling to Anglesey, we had to leave before the evening disco started so back home we went to collect the dogs and motor home and I think we left at 9 pm on the Saturday night to arrive at Anglesey at 1 am in the morning.  The good news was that there was very little traffic on the road.

Mary did one day at Worcester this year as its fairly close to home, good result though so worth it

In August, it was the regular shows / mainly weekends that we went to.  Life was a little easier this year as I had resigned from the committee of the Kennel Club International Agility Festival hence I didn’t have to worry about doing any of the work on that prior to it or staying at the show for nearly a week.  Most weekends, I do try to get out on my motor scooter and leave the girls to it and I’m sure people think we’re a bit potty towing a trailer to all the shows but this is for my benefit as within it sits my scooter.  Although, at one show, somebody did come up to us and asked whether we carried the dogs to the show in it.  I did wonder if they were on the same planet as the rest of us, especially as it has no windows or ventilation showing on the outside, so it was pretty obvious that it wasn’t for transporting animals and we would no carry dogs in a trailer anyway!

The last weekend in July was particularly busy in a different kind of way as Mary had a demonstration to perform for the charity Dogs for Good – formerly known as Dogs for the Disabled – which was held at the Kennel Club Building at Stoneleigh.  She had two thirty-minute slots in the main arena, both of which were extremely entertaining, informative for the audience and very well received.  At the end of the second slot, she performed her Crufts routine which, considering she hadn’t done it for a while, was pretty good.  As always, the only problem with the KC building is the sound.  I took my ‘pa’ set which was used by everyone during the show but the constant hubbub in the background and the terrible acoustics of the building meant that it was certainly far from perfect.

The following day, we went to Halstead.  Although we had booked in for camping, I decided in this particular instance that it would be too rushed to get the camper out for a one day show due to the time I thought we’d get back from the KC building which turned out to be correct.  Mary did have a win with Levi in Open C but wasn’t in the line-up for the Championship class.  Lyric had a place in Champ and she was really pleased with young Frankie and the fact that he didn’t get a place was her own fault as she gave the wrong command in sending him out for scent.  It’s a great venue in Essex run by a lovely bunch of people but I do wish they’d cancel the doughnut van as we just ate too many!

The previous weekend, we had our annual visit to Redcar for the Redcar and Middlesbrough shows. We arrived late the previous Sunday evening and were staying for the week – and what a great venue it is, with beautiful weather for virtually the whole week and camping on well-kept grass behind the clubhouse of the rugby club.  Our space had been saved by friend who arrived earlier so we were all pretty well camped together.  It’s literally a few minutes’ walk from the seafront with a great beach and dogs are allowed.  As usual, we towed the trailer with us which contains all our worldly goods for camping and, most importantly, my Honda scooter.  The main visits for me this year were Whitby for fish and chips, a first ever visit to Scarborough which was  great and almost a full day with Jan Morse’s husband Ray on the North Yorkshire Steam Railway.  Mary also had a great week concentrating on the dogs with her sister Pauline and all her mates

On the weekend prior to going to Redcar we went to NATS show at a new venue.  This was a football club and, bizarrely, it was in the middle of nowhere in a kind of forest but it was just immaculate.  The working area for the dogs was one of the best I’ve seen but unfortunately – and there is a but – I think the farmer who rented out the camping/parking area for the show will be making some changes for next year.  I spent most of the weekend worrying about how I was going to get my camper out without damaging it.  Hence, the farmer and I spent around 1.5 hours at the exit on the Sunday afternoon helping people get their campers and caravans out undamaged which was successful and when I came to leave, I had the farmer, Mary and Pauline all standing guard to ensure I didn’t hit any of the obstructions.  I understand that major changes will be made to this for next year’s show including a better entrance/exit and a hard road down the middle of the field.  So let’s keep our fingers crossed that this happens as it would then make the venue 100% perfect.

The second weekend in July we were down at Eastleigh and Winchester – and a great shame that the Eastleigh show has now gone.  This is a lovely venue for a show, both for the surface and for the environment and the team has run some really good events in the past.  There was no camping hence we went down early on the Saturday morning in the camper van and on the Saturday evening, we went to Peter and Carol Lewis’s house which is situated just up the road from the following day’s Winchester Show.  We park on their front garden which has a double metal front gate held on two piers and I was a little concerned about getting the camper in.  If you’ve seen our new camper then you will probably understand what I mean as it’s the maximum width allowed and 9 metres long but I succeeded and we had a very pleasant evening.  Peter has retired now but he was very active in Agility, on Kennel Club Committees and, of course, he was one of the people in agility just after its inception in 1978, so a very knowledgeable guy.

Early on the Sunday morning we went down to the Winchester Championship Show – a lovely venue run by a great team so everything always runs like clockwork and, as usual, I had been instructed to take my usual spot in the car park because of the vehicle size.  So thanks David, and can I reserve the same plot for next year please!

The first weekend in July we had the one-day Cippenham Championship Show which is another good venue at Berkshire Agricultural College and big enough to ensure nobody is too far from the ringed area.

After Marys Training week in Daventry we were off to Camarthen, we did not leave Daventry until mid – afternoon and were faced with a 200 mile plus Journey on a Friday evening in the rush hour, we knew we would be late but it was worth it, really good show on a showground with lots of exercise area for the dogs and a very welcoming show team, an annual me thinks

The last full week in June was Mary’s training camp in Daventry.  This year, we had a few new faces and Mary tries to make it not just a serious training opportunity but also a sociable one as well and, it sounds a little corny, but a great time was had by all. It’s held at a farm owned by Kath Dark and she gives us carte blanche to do almost what we want at the venue.  Everyone was camped adjacent to the obedience ring and in the paddock next door there is a full competition agility set so the handlers had Obedience in the morning and Agility in the afternoons, or they could use the Obedience rings in the afternoon if they so wished.

In one of the buildings at Kath’s, there is a business run by Heather, a local farmer, who provides work placed training for older children who perhaps have trouble settling at school or other general difficulties.  She has built a full catering kitchen, they grow all their own organic produce, have chickens etc and she has achieved a very high degree of success.  At our welcome evening on the Sunday night, Mary hosted a dinner in Heather’s dining area which, as usual, was superb.  I should also mention here that is pre-requisite to bring your own wine when you’re on the course! At the time of writing we have a couple of vacancies but you will have to be quick

On the Monday evening, we had a free night, Tuesday evening we went to the usual local pub where we had an excellent meal and managed to fit in 23 people at an L-shaped table hence we were all together, on the Wednesday evening I hosted a barbecue for 25 people – and have to say this was absolutely excellent.  On the Thursday evening we had another meal in Heather’s place followed by one of the highlights of the week, being the doggy dancing routines, performed by all attendees, even those who didn’t think they would ever do such a routine – and we had a great night!

Now, you may think this was all social but it wasn’t as there was a lot of serious dog training throughout the day and everyone was very tired by the time they went home.  So if you want to go on the waiting list for 2017, just email me.


In early June, we did St Mary’s Show but in the VW van this time and not the camper as it’s a long distance away for us for a one day show, Parking was not far from the rings and they have a good working surface plus the show is run by a great team of people, Oh and the catering was great as usual!!, oh and Mary got a useful place

On 7th/9th June, Mary took a three-day course at Angela White’s place in Haxey, North Lincolnshire.  There were a lot of the usual faces, it’s a lovely quiet place to hold a course and was very successful as usual. Unfortunately Angela was not to well at the time  so we did not see much of her, it’s a brilliant hall with a great working surface.

The first weekend in June was the Open Show at Basinstoke followed by the Championship Show at Petersfield.  Unfortunately, this was the weekend that our Satnav decided to go into self-destruct mode and I had to use the one that was built in to the dashboard of the camper van – which took me the most weird and wonderful way from basinstoke to Petersfield.  Hence I can tell you that I was pretty pleased to have my own Snooper up and running again on the following week.  Mary enjoys this weekend as both shows are excellent and well-run.

At the end of May, as usual, we did the Waldridge Fell weekend.  We had a great parking spot albeit a little bit of concern as, due to the increasingly extended amount of rain we’d had, the venue was quite soft but one of the benefits of having a rear wheel drive camper meant that I was able to get out without problem.  Fiona and the team from Waldridge run an excellent long weekend, it’s a lovely place to walk the dogs in a huge country park and local pubs within walking distance so not much more you can ask for really apart from good weather.

The previous weekend was Loughborough Championship Show where they use my outdoor ‘pa’ system and let us have the same parking spot every year which is really nice for us.  It’s a very sociable weekend and a very well run show under the guidance of Ruth and Tony

Earlier that week, Mary held an evening for Linda Croxford in Kent.  We arrived a little early as it was held in an extremely busy school and risked getting caught in all the traffic, but it was a great venue and a really good, large audience.  This was a fund raiser for the European Junior Agility Championships.

On 14th/15th May we had our usual weekend in Wirral, which is another show we love, and again they borrowed my outdoor ‘pa’ system.  This has an extremely good working surface for the dogs, a nice environment to camp in and a short walk down to the pub on the Mersey – so what more could you ask for!

During the week prior to this, we were down at Bisley for one of Mary’s demonstration evenings and what a nightmare that was – and that was just the journey there!  The venue was just off the second junction of the M3, so we joined the M3 from the M25 and that’s where we stopped for around two hours.  It was absolutely unbelievable, so both we and some of the audience actually arrived together over 30 minutes late.  Hence after setting up we were around 45 minutes late starting but it was a really good evening and Mary and the dogs were well on form.

The previous weekend we were up North again, with Mary taking a course for Jackie Muir at the usual venue of St Peter’s Church Hall.  This was another satisfying weekend for Mary as well as the handlers.  And, rather than going out for a meal on the Saturday evening, Jackie had arranged a party night for any of the participants who wanted to be there.  Well, a mixture of party games and alcohol made for a hilarious evening and I will say no more!

The first weekend in May was our Championship Obedience Show followed by Leicester on the Monday.  We were very lucky with the weather so everything pretty well ran like clockwork.  We also have an excellent caterer we use called  “ Eleanors Pantry ” who provides competitor catering as well as lunch for both judges and officials and I’m amazed she doesn’t have more booking from the obedience world as all her meals are home cooked and everything is such good quality – including proper coffee!

At the end of April it was Oxhey Show near Watford.  Goodness knows how many years ago Mary started going to Oxhey but this was one of the earliest shows she entered.  We would rather have taken the camper for the day but access is a little tight there so I had to give her the bad news that on this occasion it would have to be the VW. A good day for Mary at a show she likes

Mary went to the GSD UK Open  indoor show at Newark, first time at the alternative to the Showground, it was held at the Oakridge Quarter Horse Arena, what a great venue, a good size arena with a really form equine surface, and as  a bonus really great home- made refreshments overlooking the arena


At the beginning of the year we decided to change the camper for something with a better layout, we were lucky to find a 3 year old one that had been hardly used at a bargain price, the previous owner must have taken a huge loss on what he paid when he sold it, I cannot see why anyone would buy a new one really!!!


Crufts is always stressful for both us but obviously a lot more for Mary, its starts in December with Mary trying to find a suitable track to perform her main arena routine to, last year it came fairly easy with a Tango track that we already had a copy of, We both loved the music and it was just the type of music that suited the atmosphere of the main arena on Best In Show night, so in January 2016  Mary started to put this routine together, the 2016 routine was very important to Mary as it was going to be Levi’s 10th and last time performing a Heelwork to Music routine at Crufts.
Mary  also had the practice sessions with her fellow team mates on the England team for the World Cup Competition and sadly it was going to be the last one, also of course there was the little matter of Crufts training for Levi for the Championships, so a pretty busy time for Mary
Mary just adores Crufts and she loves everything about it, her first visit as a spectator was to Earls Court in 1979 where she watched from the obedience from the  Balcony and that was it,  her path in life was chosen, she qualified for the Obedience Championships at Crufts for the first time with Mr Chips in 1984 and the the next time was Chip and Toddy in 1987, Mary has qualified almost every year since,  winning it in 1990 with Toddy, 1992 with Roxy, 2003 with Quincy and 2013 with Levi.
1991 was a disappointing year as Mary had qualified Roxy & Toddy for the Championships, BUT, she had accepted the Crufts Agility judging appointment so… she had to withdraw from the Championships.
Results wise it was a great Crufts 2016, Levi worked his socks off in the Championships Mary could not have asked for better she was absolutely  delighted with him and so pleased with his second place in the Championships, In the World Cup the team were so pleased to represent England but a win was not to be but again all the England team were delighted with the second place, Mary was over the moon though with  Levi winning the World Cup Individual again, wot a boy.
We were then approaching the last night at Crufts and the pressure of performing a successful routine with a live audience of over 5000 and a few thousand more on live streaming throughout the world and of course not knowing how much or little will go on the TV, no pressure there then, the routine was superb and it just hit  the moment and was a pretty perfect end to Crufts for Mary, and what about Levi being away from home for nearly a week Champs, world Cup and HTM what a great boy he is if only his breeder Paul could have seen would have been so proud.


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End of 2015 News

Well, I’m late with an update again as it’s now January 2016 and we have a brand new web site thanks to our web site wizard Pete.  It must be fifteen years ago that Pete and his then partner came along to RDTC dog training and shortly afterwards said that he would like to write a website for us to replace the poor one that I had put online.  And at the time, it really was the ‘bees knees’ but of course technology moves on and he has done another one for us.

Mary is now getting ready for Crufts so, as well as doing a bit of Obedience training, she’s putting together her new HTM routine.  It is just going to be Mary this year as Richard has decided to take a break and she’s putting together a special routine for Levi because this will be his last routine in the Main Ring at Crufts.  Yes, retirement is on the horizon for him! It’s going to be a touch of strictly come dancing this year and having not seen the completed routine yet I am really looking forward to it, the music is really good !!

We had Christmas at home as usual and I was rather unwell with the worst cough and bad chest that I think I’ve ever had, probably picked up during the week I had at the Olympia International Christmas Horse Show managing the Kennel Club Agility Finals.  Of course, being incapacitated and in a bad way over Christmas, I suffered all the usual taunts about ‘man flu’ but that didn’t last long as both Mary and Pauline promptly went down with exactly the same problem – and they were both rather unwell with it.

53 DEVON 1

54 DEVON 3

55 DEVON 3

56 DEVON 4
At the beginning of December, Mary did a repeat weekend down in Devon at a village just outside Sidmouth for Cheridah.  We didn’t want a repeat of the performance the last time we went when there was a ‘jumper’ on the M42, so we left earlier on the Saturday to drive to Sidmouth where we were staying at Cheridah’s home – and what a lovely place she has.  Mary then held an evening on the Saturday night with a day’s HTM training on the Sunday.  They’re really lovely people and it was a most enjoyable evening and day.

November was a little busy as we had a new booking in Northumberland at the Northumberland Dog Training Centre.  So off we toddled up the A1 with the forecasters saying that it was going to be the worst weather of the year.  And the sad part about it was that it was true, with wind and rain being the order of the day.  We did start early enough up the A1 to try to avoid the traffic, which was fine, and in some ways it was a voyage of discovery; firstly because I didn’t know that the A1 went to a single carriage road once we were north of Newcastle and, secondly, when we got to Newcastle with twenty plus miles to go the Satnav lost the signal and we never got it back again, and I hadn’t got a map, so to say we found the venue by accident would be an under-statement!

But what a great venue – a new-build barn with kitchen facilities, a large, fully carpeted training hall and another small separate area for training as well.  There was also a big car park and masses of exercise area.  Mary did an evening on the Friday night which was pretty well for their own members, and the same for the rest of the weekend, then two days of training.  They were a great bunch of people, really keen and made us feel very welcome.  They all went to have a meal on the Saturday night while I stayed with the dogs at the camper van which is usual for me, as I don’t like leaving the dogs anywhere new by themselves, although we were in such a quiet place that no doubt I could have done.  Mary enjoyed the weekend because everyone had a thirst for knowledge.

In mid-November, we had the usual weekend for Jackie Muir and an evening at a lovely venue in Jarrow.  It’s a church hall and we were able to park right outside the door and within a few yards of the entrance is a huge park which is great for the dogs.  Also of course we had lots of friendly northerners.Mary loves it at this venue as well, as it always has a nice friendly feel to it and the handlers there are always good to work with.  Another supreme sacrifice for me again as I stayed at home with the dogs while Mary had a night out with the girls.

Early in November, we both went over to help the Obedience Class Championships run by Fran Bush and her merry bunch of helpers.  She has done a great job at starting up this whole class championship event from the qualification process to running such a lavish and professional final at the Kennel Club Building at Stoneleigh.  She has obtained some sponsorship and gave everyone a superb day.  We did a little bit on the tannoy and generally helped all day and I also managed to get a new caterer for her which is Eleanor’s Catering from Hinckley.  We have used them for our show for a number of years as well as the Kennel Club International Agility Festival and they did another great job for Fran at the Class Championships.  So if anyone is looking for a caterer at their show within striking distance of the Midlands, they have a superb trailer and specialise in home-cooked food.

At the end of October, we were up at Moreton on the Wirral where Mary was doing an evening and a course for Kathy Russell.  This was a great venue with lots of room and another great bunch of people, both on the evening which was hilarious at times and on the training days.  We were parked right outside the front door and the only shame was that some of the locals decided that bonfire night should start a week earlier hence we did suffer a little with fireworks.

Unfortunately, Mary had to miss East Grinstead Show due to her commitments at Discover Dogs BUT we did manage to get to Tunbridge Wells and what a great shame that this was the last Tunbridge Wells Championship Obedience Show ever to be held – how sad is that!  Shows do suffer from two problems – lack of help beforehand at the events and lack of profit – and I think it was a combination of the two that actually forced the end on Tunbridge Wells.  But well done to Jenny and her team for keeping it going for as long as they could.




In mid-October we were at Discover Dogs which was held a little earlier in the calendar this year and, of course, a new  venue. It’s always a little unsettling going to somewhere we’d never been before and we had never been to the Excel Centre before.  The usual concerns are whether there was anywhere to take the dogs, how far away was the hotel, what the traffic would be like getting there …  Well, it was pretty brilliant with the hotel over the road, places to exercise dogs around the exhibition centre, a great main ring and a really good weekend.  Mary did some training demonstrations and with a reduced cast did their Crufts routine as Richard Curtis was there with her .  In fact, Richard even brought along his ducks for a demo – which must be a first at a dog event!  I’m sure there were some teething problems but it certainly was a good venue for the show and there were masses of people there.  While Mary was busy doing her demonstrations of course, I ran the main ring and commentated along with Paul Moore and Kate Smith helping on the commentaries.

On 11th October, we were at Cheshire Show as usual.  This is a great venue which never changes and I dread to think how many years we’ve been going there.  Anyway, it’s a very well run show and Mary was thrilled to win the Dog Ticket under judge Kath Mangan.

At the beginning of October it was our usual date at Thurrock, another ‘must enter’ weekend for Mary, and an extremely well-run show as usual.




Along with just about everyone else in Obedience, Mary stayed for a week at Birmingham and did the two consecutive weekends competing and she loves staying in the camper van at Birmingham.  And I love staying at home, waiting for the telephone call saying something has gone wrong with the van, whether it is a gas or electrics problem!  But it wasn’t too bad this year with no big panics, although I do have to go there two or three times to empty the toilet for them and fill up with water (I somehow got that wrong!)  Mary loves the training between the shows and the atmosphere and camaraderie between everyone and, of course, everyone tries to park in the same place every year.  And that is probably the most stressful part of the whole show – finding the same spot every year!

Mary didn’t stop for the final day of that week so we left on the Saturday night and went home.  The previous year, we’d gone straight from there to the GSD of Wales Show but this really was too much, so we took the camper home and went down in the VW van on the Sunday.  It’s a shame that they seem to be struggling for entries a little as it is a lovely venue in the grounds of a castle


Date Show Judge Place Class Points
4th April Midlands BC John Farr 1st Open C 5
4th April Midlands BC Kath Hood 1st Champ C 20
5th April Midlands BC Kaye Ball 1st Open C 5
18th April Oxhey Geraldine Steadman 1st Open C 5
4th May Leicester Roger Gunby 3rd Champ C 8
10th May Wirrel Heather Gray 3rd Open C 2
16th May Loughborough Di Cobin 1st Open C 5
17th May Loughborough Nigel Slater 1st Champ C 20
23rd May Waldridge Mo Graham 1st Open C 5
24th May Waldridge Ann Shearer 1st Open C 5
7th June Petersfield Jenny Goode 2nd Open C 3
7th June Petersfield Jane Wood 1st Champ C 20
14th June Newbury Jo Northfield 1st Open C 5
11th July Eastleigh Dee Steadman 1st Champ C 20
11th July Eastleigh John Farr 1st Open C 5
13th July Winchester Bev Hughes 2nd Champ C 12
25th July Middleborough Kath Hood 1st Open C 5
26th July Redcar Ken Boulton 1st Open C 5
1st August Hatchford Brook Roger Gunby 1st Open C 5
8th August Woburn Jane Bint 1st Open C 5
9th August Woburn Keith Gwillian 1st Open C 5
9th August Woburn Lyn Tozer 2nd Champ C 12
22nd August Ditton Teresa Patterson 1st Open C 5
23rd August Ditton Pat Burford 1st Open C 5
23rd August Ditton Wendy Hagger 3rd Champ C 8
31st August Worcester Jenny Goode 2nd Open C 3
31st August Worcester Kath Hood 1st Open C 5
31st August Worcester Sue Garner 1st Champ C 20
5th September Lichfield Mick Vessey 2nd Champ C 12
5th September Lichfield Ken Boulton 2nd Open C 3
12th September Thames John Taylor 1st Open C 5
13th September Coventry Roger Gunby 3rd Open C 2
13th September Coventry Pat Batchelor 2nd Champ C 12
19th September B-ham & District Roger Gunby 1st Open C 5
26th September B-ham & District Roy Page 2nd Champ C 12
21st September BAGSD Lou Jackson 1st Champ C 20
27th September GSD Wales Gerard Paisley 1st Open C 5
3rd October Elm Park Russel Beque 3rd Champ C 8
4th October Thurrock Nick Buxton 3rd Champ C 8
11th October Cheshire Kath Mangan 1st Champ C 20
24th October Tunbridge Wells Sue Johnson 2nd Open C 3
25th October Tunbridge Wells  
Date Show Judge Place Class Points
5th April Midland BC Carolyn McConnel 1st A
3rd May Rugby Stella Henstridge 1st A
10th May Wirrel Pat Werner 1st A
17th May Loughborough Pam Clayton 1st A
7th June Petersfield Kathy Killock 1st A
9th August Woburn Roy Page 1st B
22nd August Ditton Lorraine Bennett 1st B
23rd August Ditton Barry Fitter 2nd C
31st August Worcester Sandra Trainer 1st B
5th September Lichfield Roger Gunby 1st B
12th September Thames Barry Fitter 1st B
12th September Thames Janet Oliver 3rd C



News Update September 2015

There were a couple of non competitive things worthy of a mention, Mary had a new puppy called Frankie, he is Lyrics brother and its fair to say when he is not sleeping he is fairly lively

The second was getting rid of the downstairs carpets and with a new puppy on the Horizon a pretty good move, we chose Karndean and to be sure we had the most dog friendly surface we went to the HQ/head office to try them out with Lyric and yes we had all the staff even those in the warehouse out watching him trying out the various floor finishes, we got it fitted and its brilliant just got to see how it goes in the long term now, Oh and we did not even get a discount for the showroom performance from Lyric !!

The day after Thames it was a local show for Mary, Coventry Ch show and reserve in the Ch Dog for Levi under Pat Batchelor and 3rd on open C under Roger Gunby
Mary always competes at Thames on Championship day, another great venue run by a very experienced club, we were all a bit tired after a week in Anglesey especially Mary who had worked all the previous week, it’s was a good and bad day, tried to get there at a reasonable time so we would not be too far from the rings for her but alas everyone got up early and we were parked at the back of day parking, Levi was leading Champ C and failed scent But the good was Lyric won her 5th “B” under Barry Fitter and also got a 3rd in Open C under Janet Oliver, Levi got another Open C win under John Taylor

Its always Mary’s annual Anglesey course in September with it being a regular booking for a lot of the participants, great venue on Rex & Maggies farm, a small training hall with a super non slip surface, acres of grass to camp and walk your dog on and what must be be one the best beaches in the country to take you dog to, on facebook Mary termed it as a great week in great company and just about sums it up, we have a welcome BBQ night on the Sunday, a home made soup and doggy dancing night on the Wednesday, am great meal out on the Thursday and HTM & Obedience training each day, also a full set of competition agility equipment in the field for those who wanted to use it. Its easy to see why this is the 10th annual week in Anglesey and no doubt number eleven will take place next year.

The first Saturday in September we were at Lichfield show at Dartmouth Park, great venue !!, A good day for Levi with a second in both Ch Dog and Open C and a Lyric’s fourth “B” under Roger Gunby, Lichfield was stop off point for us on our Journey up to Anglesey for Marys annual weeks camp so she missed the second day at Lichfield
We decided to have an easy August bank holiday weekend and Mary just entered Worcester show, well perhaps we should have gone north as they had the better weather !! as usual I had my motor scooter but did not get out much but more importantly it was miserably wet for Mary & Pauline not only getting wet but we seemed to be so far from the rings for Mary with multiple dogs, think we will day park next year.

In saying that, Mary had a great competitive weekend with Lyric winning her third “B” and Levi gaining two seconds on Open C and winning Championship Dog, as usual there was to be a run off for the overall Championship winner between the dog and bitch just a shame it had to take place in heavy rain with very few spectators, Bitch winner was Linda Rutherford with Denim yes Levi’s sister, Mary and Levi won this so a great finish to a wet weekend.

We did our usual annual trip to Ditton Ch Show held at the Rugger Club in Ashford, we both love the venue and its great having a bar and catering in the clubhouse so no cooking for me !!. this year we also had the excitement of the Irish travelling community forcing their way in, 4 caravans at high speed followed by 2 more after they removed fencing panels, followed shortly after by 4 police cars !!! a number of the Obedience folks were getting ready to leave at this point BUT a miracle occurred the police escorted them off the site, whatever was said it worked. A good weekend for Mary, 3rd in Ticket, Levi winning C both days and Lyric winning B and getting 2nd in C, first weekend out for the new Puppy Frankie as well

We are always at the KC Agility Festival in mid August, I have been a member of the festival committee from its inception with Mary & Pauline helping as well, sad for me this year as I had decided to give up my role at the show so my last one, a few kind words were said at the show dinner and I was presented with a bottle of gin. Its a great event and myself and Mary are really proud to have been part of its inception and being able to watch it grow to a world class event.
The second weekend in August was the Woburn weekend, Lovely show lovely venue and great weather, not often we can sit under the awning late with a drink and not be chilly !!!

The first weekend in August, Mary was at Hatchford Brook without me – she’s staying there with Pauline for the weekend as Lyric is in season and I have to keep her untouched at home. Poor old Levi thinks it’s Christmas and I don’t think he understands why he can’t have his present!

This year we decided to spend a whole week at Redcar, then it became a week and a day because of the demise of St Helens show so we actually went up on Saturday 18th July and were all looking forward to it. It’s a great venue, just a few hundred meters from a lovely beach, the sea goes out a little way and it is just all sand. The venue is a Rugby Club with lots of room for camping and a great area for the rings and it was Redcar Championship Show and Middlesbrough Open Show. Mary was actually leading the dog ticket with Levi then he decided he would rather stand than do the sit in the stays, so broke at 55 seconds. Why – well, we don’t know as sometimes he just throws one in. Mary had a good weekend though, winning two Open C’s. Her sister Pauline, who is with us at all the shows now, was working Cruz and is soldiering on, trying to have some success with him. He’s a lovely dog to live with but she’s struggling with him a bit as he always seems to do a different thing wrong with him at the shows.

In mid July we went down for the Winchester weekend – again, two super venues but unfortunately with no camping for either of them. Eastleigh show was held adjacent to Victoria Park overlooking Southampton Water at a police college. This is a superb place for a show and not being renowned for my prowess at working a dog gives me the opportunity to have a wander off. We just drive down very early in the morning then we have the pleasure of going to see our friends Peter and Carol Lewis for the Saturday evening and staying on their drive. We’ve known Peter and Carol since just after we started in dogs as Peter was one of the handlers at the inception of agility which, of course, Mary joined shortly after.

Winchester is held at the recreation ground at Botley, just down the road from Peter and Carol’s house. This is another well-run show and a lovely venue and as our camper is a little on the big side, they do reserve us a space in the car park which is handy for Mary for the show.

During the preceding week, Mary held a three day Obedience Training Seminar just outside Chipping Norton at Great Rollright for Hazel and Julie. What a stunning place Hazel has! There is a big field for camping and running the dogs and a lovely area in front of a small pavilion for the outdoor obedience and, if it was inclement weather, there is a big hall which is fully carpeted with mirrors. It really is obedience heaven! There were some lovely handlers on the course and Mary really enjoyed taking it. We decided that if we were going to be gypsies then we would live on the field there!

The first weekend in July we went to Chadkirk Championship show. This isn’t our most favourite venue, and not because of the show itself or the ground conditions, but the fact that we cannot take the camper there as the headroom into the park where the show is held is very low. And not wishing to get a tree branch through the roof, we just go for the day in the VW van. Nonetheless, this is a very friendly show and we even had time for a little dog swimming during the day in what is a great park.

Towards the end of June, Mary had a week’s camp at Daventry. This is held at Kath Dark’s farm and this year they were blessed with good weather and it is just a lovely place to be. Kath herself really enjoys having the course there and spectates for most of the week, there is a small business called Green Acres Farm Rural Enterprises being run by Heather from one of the buildings which takes youngsters who perhaps have social difficulties and are disadvantaged and try to train them in skills ready for adulthood. Hence, they have a full kitchen and grow a lot of their own organic produce, including having some chickens. She has been hugely successful with this and one of the spin-offs is that she also does catering so we have two evening meals there, she provides breakfast and afternoon cakes – all really convenient for us and she is such a lovely lady.

Kath has a small indoor training weather for bad weather but her competition ring is erected outside next to the caravans where most of their time is spent. We do have a bit of a doggy dancing night as well as a very convivial evening down at the local pub. So it’s a cross between hard training and having a good week’s holiday.
In mid June, I arranged a defibrillator training evening for Rugby DTC. We have been behind a lot of fund raising for defibrillators which all started when Rugby cancelled their Championship Show and left us with the quandary of whether to write out hundreds of cheques or do something worthwhile. Prior to this, of course, we’d had the sad loss of Alan Warner at a show from a heart attack. So we started the defibrillator fund with Rugby’s money. Hence we now have quite a number of defibrillators spread throughout the UK and the majority of shows should have a trained handler with a defibrillator on site. Rugby also bought their own so they funded a certificated training evening for twelve of our committee and trainers.

In early June, we went to Petersfield as usual – a very well-run show on a beautiful piece of grass behind a school-type building.

The first week in June was another mid-week training break, this time for Angela White at Haxey Training Ground in North Lincolnshire. She has a superb indoor facility, fully carpeted with a really great bunch of people on the course so another one we will be repeating next year. In fact, it is already booked with the majority of places sold out so you will need to be quick if you want to get on that one. We even had a young lady who flew over from Italy just to come on Mary’s course. She did actually finish up working one of Mary’s dogs and went away full of new ideas.

At the end of May we went on our usual pilgrimage to Waldridge Fell. This was a Bank Holiday weekend show but we went up on the Wednesday. It’s a lovely venue and well-run show which we really look forward to in a beautiful country park – although I do think that next time we will try to find a place lower in the field as we were quite high up so seemed to catch the breeze.
Another usual fixture for us was Loughborough which isn’t too far away. We are always very kindly given the same parking space at another extremely well-run show run by a great team. This also has the benefit of a bar on site as well as a good working surface and, this year, good weather! I usually lend Loughborough my outdoor pa system which, where possible, is available if any shows want to borrow it.

The weekend prior to this was Wirral Show, again another regular in our calendar and we are lucky in obedience as we do have some very nice venues and this is one of them. Held in a country park, and I know it sounds boring, but this is another show run by a really good group of members with great caterers on site, good working surface and a great place to take your dog for a walk – and another show which uses my outdoor pa.

At the beginning of May we had our own Rugby DTC Championship Show. This year, we didn’t have YKC as the entries have fallen to almost nothing so that there wasn’t any point in doing it. Also class numbers felt a little different as numbers were down although this made life a little easier for us. Anyway, we had a great show and we’re a very lucky club having lots of keen members who come to help and we know just how lucky we are. Mary has never started her own club and has always remained faithful to Rugby DTC where she always trains on the rota. Also, as I think a lot of people are aware, we were left a bequest in a founder member’s will and hence we have different evenings for all kinds of disciplines at the club house which gives us a rather larger pool of helpers than some clubs. It was a good show as usual and we were blessed with decent weather. It’s a shame that we didn’t have more campers and an even bigger shame that this year we didn’t book the disco and closed the bar at 9:00 pm and I can only just say that it’s a case of ‘use it or lose it’ and at the moment it has been temporarily lost.

The day after Rugby, Mary went to the BH Monday Leicester Championship Show. We’re sometimes spoiled with the good venues that we have and Leicester has suffered this year with the Hinckley Football Club being closed down then partially re-opened then finding out that the whole ground is owned by different people. However, the show did run and they were able to overcome the tremendous difficulties that they had. We did try to book the rugby venue for Leicester on the Monday but unfortunately it was already booked out.

News Update January 2015

Once more, I apologise to website watchers that I’m so late in putting on an update. I’m supposed to be semi retired but somehow the ‘retired’ word doesn’t seem to come into play as I never have time to complete anything on time, including this!

Once more, Mary has had a great year with a brilliant end, the highlight being Levi winning 13 Championship Challenge Certificates, which beats the all-time record hence another year where he has proved to be the most successful dog in British Obedience. In addition to this, he has won 26 Open ’ C’ classes this year and … it’s also worth mentioning that Mary’s Crufts HTM routine one million hits on YouTube and is the most popular official Crufts 2014 video. Our new girl Lyric has won 6 Novices so is well placed to start in ‘A’ soon. Mary intended to retire Foxy at Crufts this year but didn’t tell anyone, as is her style, yet she was still so lively that she let it run on awhile and she’s done some smashing rounds this year, being in the places and really enjoyed her wind-down year. But Mary has now decided that the time has come and she is officially retired. One of the sadder moments was when we lost little Chico; well, it was a bit more than sad really as Mary was distraught and it really upset me. Even little Vinnie couldn’t understand where he’d gone. The vets told us that without doubt it was a heart attack and they couldn’t find anything else wrong with him but we decided not to go ahead with a full post mortem as it was just a very sad time.

Well, the competitions may have finished for the year but the work does not. Mary has already started to put together her 2015 Crufts Main Ring HTM routine and she has invited Richard to join her again – and it’s going to be something with a twist again which, of course, it has to have for the Main Ring! And after the 2014 routine, they really have something to beat and somehow I think this may just do it! I of course have to support her in her search for suitable clothing and props but I prefer not to see the routine in its early stages rather waiting until its nearer the finished product, looks like we have to stop calling it a routine and call it a production, you will understand when you see it !!!

The day after Discover Dogs, I had the onerous duty of flying out of the country with my mate destination Sri Lanka for a guided tour of just over two weeks. I go as a companion and I have to say that it’s a really hard life! Whilst I was away, Mary was at the Obedience Class Championships giving a helping hand there and the weekend of my return at the end of November she went down to a super little place at Great Rollright, near Chipping Norton for a weekend Obedience Seminar.

In early November we went to Earls Court for the final Discover Dogs which was a very sad time really because by the time you read this, Earls Court will have closed down and finished for good – another icon gone making room for houses. It was a really great show this year, packed with spectators in the main ring and everyone having a good time including the people running the event. Mary did some demonstrations and of course she and Richard performed their Crufts routine which by then had gone over one million hits on YouTube and let’s hope the show is supported as well when it moves to Excel on 17th/18th October in 2015.

The final show of the year was Tunbridge Wells where Mary and Levi did it again, winning another ticket under judge Janet Oliver and in doing so broke the record with 13 ticket wins in one year plus another Open ‘C’ win under judge Brian McGovern giving Levi 26 Open ‘C’ wins in one year – what an achievement!

At the penultimate show of the year, East Grinstead, judge Ann Northfield awarded the Championship Challenge Certificate to Mary and Levi, the twelfth of the year and she was absolutely ecstatic! And just to compound her joy, she also won her 25th Open ‘C’ and Lyric won Novice – so what another great show for Mary!

The previous weekend, we were at Cheshire which is always a good show on really good ground and we were blessed with good weather as well. This was the first show for a long time that we went in Mary’s van and not the motorhome – it did actually make me realise why I like using the motorhome! The icing on the cake, of course, was the fact that Mary won the Dog ticket – yes, that was number eleven. I watched her round and it was pretty stunning.

Prior to that Mary did a Cabaret Night at the Coventry Deaf Club. Yes, it may seem a little strange but we did have a sound system and there were lots of people who were not deaf, but we had two signers who worked in relay, standing not too far from Mary so that the non-hearing audience would be able to see the signing and catch what was going on at the same time. It was a lovely evening, Mary was on form and really very comical and the dogs were brilliant. Even though living with the boisterous Lyric can be difficult at times, I have to say that she performed amazingly and showed off all the little things that Mary has been teaching her at home. It was good to see two of our long distance friends there; Eryl from Llandudno who brought along her sister, fresh from singing appointments in Spain and didn’t know what she was coming to until she left home, being a non-dog person but she had a really good night, it must run in the family as Eryl’s proper job is a cabaret singer and having heard her, she’s pretty stunning. We also re-met our adopted daughter from Colwyn Bay, Melinda, who was brought down by her mother as a birthday treat.

Prior to that was the Elm Park Thurrock weekend, which is another regular event for us. It was a wonderful day for us when we set up the motorhome, what they call a “bloody good soaking” on Saturday then finished with a nice day on Sunday for packing up. This is always a pleasant show with plenty of room to exercise the dogs.

As usual, in September Mary went for the Birmingham holiday week with a Championship show at either end and an awful lot of people camping through the week. She really looks forward to this and it’s becoming more and more popular as a break. I think everyone knows where they want to park, usually being the same as the previous year, and once again Mary succeeded. I set the camper up with a full awning for the week and just prayed that the precautions I had put in place worked so that she would have enough electric in the batteries to last all week which, as you may understand with Mary, would need to include enough for the microwave, hairdryer, two i-pads, wi fi – and that’s without starting on the television, lights and electric cigarettes! It really is a great venue and a very social occasion with practice rings set up daily, a restaurant for breakfast each morning and, of course, later a short walk into West Bromwich town centre. Results-wise, it wasn’t bad either with Ticket & Open wins including another win for Lyric in Novice.

Mary normally stays for the whole of the last weekend but this year, the GSD Show was on the Sunday, so I went up on Saturday to pack the whole van then on Saturday evening we pulled out for the drive down to Chepstow arriving in the dark with a trailer on the back. Fortunately, with Cathy Russell, we found a decent place to park not far from the rings and in the dark with the aid of one of the show management and it was a nice, picturesque venue in the grounds on a castle. A bit hard to find as the postcode did not the venue but a phone call to a nice lady at the castle produced a satnav postcode at the property next door which worked fine.

Perhaps we will have to re-think dashing from one venue to another next year and it’s certainly a younger person ‘s game in that respect and I don’t know whether the bones are as dedicated as the spirit!

In the first part of September, Mary had Thames and Coventry shows which again she loves to go to and they’re both good shows.

The first week in September, Mary took her training week at Rex and Maggie’s at Anglesey and I have to say we had the best weather we’ve ever experienced. I have never seen Maggie having to throw open the big main barn doors to let in some cool air into the barn – it was just superb. We camp in an absolutely ideal spot opposite the barn, there’s a huge amount of area to walk the dogs straight out of the camper and the venue is not far from beautiful beaches. Yes, it’s really like a little bit of heaven if the weather is decent. This year, because we were not dashing up from the City of Birmingham Show so had more time, this gave me the opportunity to get involved with the catering myself. We had a fabulous barbecue as a welcome meal on the first night, as usual we went out to a hotel for one evening for another superb meal and the other night we had a little bit of doggie dancing when I made soup, maybe not as good as my usual soup but another lesson learned for next year. Anyway, it was a really great week, everyone enjoyed it and it’s probably already fully booked for next year.

I did say that we went to Anglesey a day early. Well, it was only just about a day early as on the Saturday prior to going to Wales Mary went to Lichfield Championship Show and spent the day there, a show she always likes to support Good this year with another ticket win!! .

As soon as the show finished, she drove home, I was waiting and within 30 minutes we were on the way to Anglesey. What a great run and I think we should always travel like that, well late evening but only if there are no motorway works/closures.

The weekend prior to this in August was the Wakefield weekend and Mary decided that we would go to Wakefield one day then Worcester the next. Wakefield is another show that we like as they always try hard and it’s a superb venue. It’s just a shame really that we have to leave because we’d made the conscious decision to support Worcester as well. Therefore on the Sunday night we left for Worcester which is quite a drive; in fact, we were the last unit to pull into Worcester in the dark on that Sunday night and were personally greeted by some very famous people who were waiting to go to bed – yes, Brian and Sandy were there to meet us as we drove through the gate and we’re indebted to them for finding us a decent place to park. In fact, I think we were with the show officials. This is another club which has found a great venue and also offers extended stay and it was really such a shame that it rained so heavily but Mary was rewarded with a ticket win under Roy Page, The committee tried really hard to make this show special and it poured all day! Such a shame so we’ll keep our fingers crossed for something better next year.

Prior to Wakefield, we had a few days of holiday and a lot of hard work as it was the Kennel Club International Agility Festival. I’m on the working party and I’m also catering manager and Mary is one of the waitresses. The show takes place over four days and with 16 competition rings and over 700 caravans/campers on site then it’s very busy. It is called “international” and there were over 200 overseas competitors at the show so it really is a phenomenal , world class event. Catering managers may not seem important but we served over a thousand meals for officals and helpers .

On the Monday morning after this show we drove straight down to Herstmonceux , no it’s not overseas, it’s just outside Eastbourne. We parked the camper at Pete and Sue Bishop’s place (Croft Cattery) . Well it was a garden centre as well but the cattery is so busy that this part is closing down and they’re turning it all over to a cattery. A little bizarre I suppose for dog people who compete at Obedience Shows but certainly catteries are a much quieter life so I don’t blame them. Just behind the cattery they have a certified location with parking for five caravans in a little orchard and, of course, as they’re dog people then dogs are welcome and you can put up a garden. We would really recommend this if you want a few days away. It’s about 15 minutes to the beach and a lovely stretch of coast, within striking distance of both Eastbourne and Brighton. I can tell you that the best fish and chips I have ever eaten were in Bexhill-on-Sea which again is just down the road.

From there, on the Friday we drove up to Ditton Show – a great venue, great place to camp, good food and a bar in the clubhouse, great working surface and good company, what more could you ask for, that is l except for wins, Levi had Open C wins both days and a Ticket win under Sharron Webley

The first week in August was Hatchford Brook. This year, we decided that we would do the Championship day at Hatchford Brook then travel down to Halstead the next day for the Championship class there, It’s a super venue,But , it was hard work doing that, I have to say, and I think maybe if we were a lot younger then it may have been okay but suffice to say that I think we’ll be staying in one place next year. Hatchford Brook, as usual, is a decent venue with a bar on site and good company.

Halstead the next day was just a superb venue being a golf club with perfect grounds. The camping area was great, the rings were lovely and the club had gone to a lot of effort for the show. There is an amusing tale though as, just after lunch, a brand new range rover turned up, drove into the ring area and parked not far from one of the rings watching the dogs work. It was an older guy driving and someone did say to him “would you mind moving back” to which he responded “I can do what I like – I own this place!” So young Mary Ray goes up to him and says through his window “Do you own this place?” to which he replies “Yes.” So Mary says “can I marry you?” to which he replies, “no, but you can be my mistress BUT mistresses have no rights !!” So she declined the offer! I don’t know what she would have done if he’d said yes !!

On the last weekend in July we were at Redcar and what a great show that was – I loved it! I bought myself a motor scooter so took it with me in the trailer so that I was able to dodge off, the venue is just off the seafront and a very short walk to get to the beach from the rugger club where the show is held. We were lucky with the weather so it was a great, great show and a lovely place to camp. Hence we may be going there a little earlier next year, if we can. I have to say that it’s cheap to eat out there as well, we had a fabulous carvery meal with drinks at a seafront hotel in Redcar for probably the cheapest carvery I’ve ever had.

Around this time, Mary also did her latest QVC advert for Pet Munchies. Suzanne who owns it is a lovely lady and of course Mary wouldn’t do anything for any company unless she liked the product, which is why we feed Arden Grange food. Anyway, she was promoting some of the newer products, the latest ones being salmon skin based and they really are fabulous as the dogs absolutely adore them! If you want something that’s a real treat for the dogs then that’s what you need to get.

As usual, we did the Eastleigh/ Winchester weekend. This is a nice weekend in a lovely part of the world with two good showgrounds and a very pleasant atmosphere. It’s also our annual visit to Peter and Carol Lewis – Peter has put in so much work for working dogs at the Kennel Club and, as we all are, he’s getting older now and of course very much retired. It was great to see them and we had a lovely meal with them on the Saturday evening. I had too much to drink although Mary and Pauline were sober! Also the neighbours must think it strange to see this big, high camper reversing into their garden but of course it’s not far to walk home!

Prior to this were Chadkirk and Cippenham shows so again we did a Saturday evening changeover from one venue to another.

At the end of June it was Mary’s Daventry Camp again and what a great time everyone had as it really was a great week. We had good weather, Kath Dark’s farm is a lovely place to park, it’s a super outdoor facility, everyone joined in and the atmosphere between all the participants was really really good. As usual, I don’t think I’ll need to advertise it for 2015 as I already have a waiting list.Apart from all the attention from Mary and Jan, it’s a good holiday week as well. We had a welcome meal on the Sunday evening provided by a professional caterer in an on-site unit, an evening in the local pub for a meal, I held an outdoor barbecue on the Wednesday (fabulous, I must add!) and we had a meal on the Thursday evening as well.

I got a slightly bigger trailer and put the great photo that Chris Parkin took on the side, looks brilliant Chris, if anyone want a small lightweight box trailer e-mail me for details as it will be going on ebay shortly