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Top marks for second Terrier “Teach In”

Sunday 13th January saw approximately 90 people attend the second of Sue McCourt’s popular and well organised Terrier teach-ins.

Held at Shenstone Village Hall - convenient for the A38 and A5 - the proceedings commenced at 10.30 sharp. Opening the event, Sue thanked everyone for attending and said that it was not a detailed and in depth review of each of the breed standards of the six Terriers but, instead, she had asked the speakers to expand on the breed standard - for approximately fifteen to twenty minutes each - to provide an insight into characteristics of the dogs from the viewpoint of the speakers.

There were six speakers with their respective breeds - Australian Terriers - Paul Eardley; Bedlingtons - Carmel Smallwood-Cleavely; Borders -Anne Roslin-Williams; Irish - Judy Averis (in place of Peter Bell who apologised but was unable to attend due to circumstances beyond his control); Welsh - Maurice Marshall and Sealyhams - Biddy Horn.

Juliette Cunliffe and Geoff Corish take a closer look at a Border Terrier
during the hands on session.

Expanding on the format of the day, Sue said that after lunch, there would be the Hands On which should enable those present to go round and see the breeds - including some dogs with faults. After the hands-on, she continued, there would be plenty of time for questions and the audience were encouraged to ask exactly what they wished to. And so the scene was set for an informative day, with opportunity to participate.

Sue, who organised the event on her own (but with help from friends including Geoff Corish selling raffle tickets) is clearly very dedicated to organising these events and the turnout proved how much interest there has been since the first one. The seminar was held not only to expand knowledge, but also in aid of good causes, and this year two charities were to benefit: Hearing Dogs For the Deaf and Rheumatoid Arthritis Research.

Each of the speakers was introduced by Max King and they gave their comments on their specific breeds. Several examples were also on hand to illustrate in detail the discussion points. During their presentations there were a number of questions from the audience.


The first speaker, was Paul Eardley, who has been showing dogs all his life. He explained that one of the most important aspects is to remember what the dog was bred to do - in this case to keep vermin low and to give warning of anyone nearby. The use of ears in the Australians, Paul said, was very important and, for his preference, if the dog is stuffy in neck it loses breed type.

Throughout he gave a concise and personal view on the attributes of the breed. On size, Paul expressed his view that he doubted if there were any in the UK that were within the 10 inch/14lbs required by the standard. On length to height ratios, Paul said that the breed standard called for a dog which was rather long compared to height; he considered that a good rule of thumb was for the Aussie to be 10% longer than its height.

Carmel Smallwood-Cleaveley has had Bedlingtons since 1979. She gave a forthright and confident view on the breed standard and expanded on aspects she felt were important.

Carmel said that when one looks at the Bedlington Terrier side on, from the tip of the nose right through to the tail, there should be no angles. She explained that when one places one’s hands around the neck of a Bedlington there should be a feeling of strength and muscle.

Anne Roslin-Williams has such a rich heritage in Border Terriers of over 45 years. Anne confessed to being very nervous but she gave an excellent performance. She explained that the most important paragraphs in the breed standard are the first and the second from the last.

Robert Greaves holds the otter head, brought along by Anne Roslin-Williams
for her talk on the Border Terrier.

Using an example of a preserved Otter’s head, she explained that the Border’s head should be just like that of an Otter; it should be 1/3 muzzle and 2/3 head; with hardly any stop. Anne explained the tough Northumberland terrain in which the Border had to work and that when the dog goes to ground, its purpose is to bolt the fox. The pelt is thick and loose to protect it from bites and provide insulation.

Judy Averis was then introduced to the audience to discuss the Irish Terrier. She said that one of the preferences of Irish terrier people was that they liked judges to lift the feet to see the pads to examine for haws or any split pads. On head and muzzle. Judy said that the proportions should be a slightly longer muzzle compared to skull. And, she explained, the breed was built for speed.

Maurice Marshall discussed the Welsh Terrier and said that it was reputed to be the oldest Terrier breed. He explained that the breed was originally used for hunting a variety of vermin and to provide fur for Welsh Kings. Maurice gave his interpretation of the Standard and was asked about the topline of the Welsh, which was absent from the Standard. He explained that there should be a level topline.

Finally, Biddy Horn, who has had over 40 Champions in Sealyhams, discussed the breed. On the weight in the standard, she said that although it stated 18 - 20 lbs, the breed was generally 24-25lbs. Commenting on the ears, she said they should come to the corner of the eye (which should be dark). She explained that it is a difficult breed to judge at the moment due to variance in breed type.

l Sue McCourt, organiser (left) draws the meeting to a close, with the
six breed speakers and Chairman (centre) on the ‘top table’.

Following lunch, the “Hands On” gave everyone the opportunity to see the dogs that were on display as well as discuss the finer points with each of the speakers. Given the huge number, this aspect of the day went really well and there was ample time for everyone to see all six breeds, ask questions, go over the dogs and also, in some cases, see the dogs on the move.

The final part of the day saw all breed experts plus Sue McCourt and Max King on stage to answer questions from the audience. These questions were of a general nature and covered a range of issues including the panel’s view on classification of terriers at Open Shows etc. and some of the politics of dog showing.

Concluding at ten to four, it was an enjoyable day where everyone learned quite a lot more about a number of terrier breeds. Full marks to Sue McCourt for this enterprise which raised a total of £288.33 (which she generously made up to £300) for the two charities.