Our Dogs Report by David Cavill
the third year the PRO Dogs Gold Medal Awards were held at
the now totally refurbished Conference Centre at Sandown Park,
Esher in Surrey in one of the superb function rooms overlooking
the racecourse at Sandown Park.
Now that the extensive building work is complete it could be an important venue for such dog orientated events in the future. The food and service were excellent, car parking was easy and convenient and the general atmosphere, as always, calm and efficient.This was the first year in which the proceedings were entirely divorced from those of the now quite separate PAT Dogs charity and as a result, the awards ceremony was shorter and slicker. I understand that PAT Dogs is holding its own event to recognise its fundraisers and activities in January and, of course, PRO-Dogs wishes them well.
The annual general meeting of the charity was held prior to the a wards and lunch and there is no doubt that this certainly boosts attendance. The charity has had a successful year and can now focus on its original objectives.
This has been seen in the establishment and success of the PRO-Dogs Educators programme that was launched earlier this year at Crufts. PRO-Dogs has over 5,000 members, several hundred up on this time last year, but the charity still needs more if it is to continue to fund the important and valuable work that it is doing both within its own aims and objectives and in conjunction with the Kennel Club with the establishment of local dog focus groups (Dogs UK) and the Dog Legislation Advisory Group. If you want more information on the work of PRO-Dogs just go to the their website at www.prodogs.org.uk
The commentator was, as always, Bernard Hall who kept the proceeding flowing smoothly and introduced this years celebrity guest, David Hamilton who, with his wife Dreena, charmed everyone with their warmth and genuine enjoyment of the occasion. There is no doubt that David is one of the top TV and radio personalities of the last four decades so it was a great honour for the Charity that he was able to find time to attend. His pleasure in dogs was very evident when he spoke movingly of the loss of their beautiful Golden Retriever who died earlier this year.
The awards themselves, supported as usual by Pedigree Masterfoods, demonstrated the incredible range, dedication and sensitivity of our best friends.
Pet of the Year was Todd, a black Labrador retriever who is, like his owner, very keen on sailing. Last year she slipped overboard (for once without her life jacket because the weather had been so hot and the sea so calm) a mile off Cowes. The Isle of Wight was the nearest land but Todd knew the way home and swam for ten hours to Beaulieu! Thanks to his microchip he was soon re united with his owner who had spent many hours looking for him off the Isle of Wight.
The Silver Medal was awarded a cross Corgi, Peggy, who was rescued after she was left outside a police station. She has been a very special support to her owners daughter who has had to undergo a long series of operations.
The Gold Medal for Devotion to Duty was awarded to Rosie who had just started her training as a Search and Rescue dog when she found Cap, a Border Collie, at the bottom of a six foot deep hole where she had survived on rainwater for eight weeks. Cap had bolted during a firework display and her owners had been searching for her everywhere. The Silver Medal was awarded to Bobby, an incredibly fit and lively nineteen year old who has raised many thousands of pounds for charity (including PRO-DOGS) over the years and been a long serving member of the Essex Dog Display team.
The Lifesaving Medal was awarded to Daphne, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier who drew attention to his owners sons serious illness that could have led to his death if an ambulance had not been called immediately, while the Silver Award went to Sandy, a collie cross who attempted top rescue his canine companion, Chip, when he slid down a cliff and into the sea. Both were eventually rescued by coastguards.
There were four candidates for the Lesley Scott-Ordish Memorial Award for a unique contribution to the world of dogs this year and the Trustees found it impossible to choose.
They therefore decided to uniquely present four awards. These went to (in alphabetical order): Trevor Cooper for his work in defending so many dogs and dog owners, often pro bono, in the courts; Bernard Hall for his many years service to PRO-Dogs and to other charities; Gladys Hutcheson, for her many years work running the PRO-Dogs Adoption and Temporary Fostering Schemes and Violet Slade, for her work abroad, especially with dogs and their families in the Ukraine.
There was a new award this year the Educators Award. PRO-Dogs Educators is a renaissance of a school and youth visiting scheme pioneered by PRO-Dogs founder Lesley Scott Ordish. Volunteer members with their aptitude assessed pets visit primary schools, youth groups, and other organisations to which young people belong to drive home the message of responsible pet ownership to the pet owners of tomorrow. The first award was made to Diane Moore and her Sheltie, Laddie for their tireless efforts in promoting the scheme.
Another award was the PRO-Dogs Special Award that the trustees make to someone who has made an exceptional contribution to the work of the Charity. This was presented to Ann Shaw who works ceaselessly throughout the year doing all those jobs (such as selling tombola tickets and gathering contributions for prizes) that are so important but generally unacknowledged. Another special this year were presentations for the fund raisers of the Downathon that was organised by Roy and Carol Dyer earlier this year.
After a delicious lunch (no, really - it was excellent) with wines courtesy of PRO-Dogs supporter Bablake Wines, the afternoon began with a demonstration by the Pro-Dog Obedience winner, Mrs Whyborns Tyefold Chocolate Hob Nob OW and the Runner-up Mrs Jones Trimac Merlie Wizz Kidd. In the scent test Hob Nob picked up David Hamiltons handkerchief with no hesitation whatever.
The Obedience Demonstration was followed by a superb demonstration of Heelwork to Music by Mary Ray. Mary demonstrated the techniques that she uses to train her dogs, beginning with a 14 week old puppy, moving up to her fully trained dogs. She then performed an impromptu version of her Glenn Miller routine that clearly showed why she is regarded as the absolute grandmaster of this new art form.
Finally, before tea, Jane Lilley took to the floor for the PRO-Dog of the Year Breed Final. Purina Pro-Plan sponsored the competition again this year and Bannerdown kindly supplied the benching. The venue is excellent in that there was plenty of room and this was just as well because there were few absentees this year. From the ring side the overall quality appeared very good and included several Champions as well as last years winner of this event.
Jane pulled out the Standard Poodle Ch Penling by Design at Namkia, the Shetland Sheepdog, Joliet Jake of Castlerose, the Golden Retriever Stanroph Endlewood Natasha JW and the Dalmatian, Offordale Rialton. The winner of the 2002 PRO Dogs Pedigree Dog of the Year was the black Standard Poodle, Maria Aikman's Ch Penling by Design at Namkia with the Shetland Sheepdog, Mrs and Mrs J Edwards' Joliet Jake of Castlerose JW as reserve. Co-incidentally, both won their heats at Leeds Championship Show while Penling by Design won the dog CC at Leeds on that day too.
As always, it was a superb day and Mike Findlay, Angela Jakes and their team with voluntary help from Bernard Hall, Trevor Turner, David Paton and many others must be congratulated on a very smooth running and enjoyable event.