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It does exactly what it says on the tin!
All About Dogs 2003

Good pals and jolly good company

What makes someone go to a show that is called ‘All About Dogs’? Well I felt I should ask some of the people who took the time to visit, and this is what they said:"It’s just so doggy, so natural, so normal, so happy and it's just as its name says - it’s "All About Dogs."

I know that over three years ago Roy and Carol Dyer had sat down with an idea and said that they wanted an event that would show ordinary people what 'ordinary' dogs could do.

It had to be simple, true and promote the health and welfare of all dogs whatever their size, shape, breed, or the loveable mongrel. Well, I have to say this has truly paid off; this event just gets better and better.

The venue is truly impressive with good parking, good directional signs, well set out arenas, and pretty impressive trade outlets, complemented with some really interesting breed specific stands bustling with lots of well informed breed people, so very proud of their own breeds with colourful pictures adorning the stands.

My own personal feeling is that this event really does give Crufts and Discover Dogs a real run for their money. It’s not only good value for the entrance, being only £2 per person with £1 for the programme. If you want a go at the 'have-a-go’ events that's not expensive either, some just asking for donations and the mandatory 'must do' event the hugely popular "Downathon" being only £2 a dog.

So, a full programme of events giving us proud owners the chance to show off just what our dogs could do. I think the families of 6 year old Lisa Hardin and her two and a half year old Poodle and Alastair Johnson a paraplegic, and his working dog must surely have felt very emotional when they showed just what they could do. Lisa had the crowd almost silent as she guided her dog round an agility course with total ease. She was as one with the dog and didn't put a foot wrong.

Wow! she is one for us to watch in the future! Then Alastair Johnson put us able bodied folk well in our place, with his working dog completing the agility course in a really great time. The whole thing looking so natural and normal and as he says "It is normal, I really enjoy doing the agility courses, and I want to show that having a disability doesn't mean I can’t enjoy my love for this sport, I have to say my dog has the best of times." I know the crowd would be in total agreement. I have to say at this point that I so enjoyed Lisa and Alastair’s display that I completely forgot to take the photos. So I really hope that someone has taken some and would please send them in to Our Dogs.

An event favourite has always been the superb separate and combined Carting display. I think I am correct in saying that David Lamb was the commentator here, managing to keep word perfect, over the two days ample display time. The Carts of the Bernese Mountain Dogs, Newfoundlands and Saint Bernards were beautifully decked out, some covered in flowers, and the handlers wearing the traditional dress for the countries, some were tiny first aid carts, the Saint Bernards pulling these along with ease. All the Carting dogs showing how they could negotiate the obstacle course,some of the Bernese carts had a ball placed on top of the milk churns and David explained that these dogs were so steady that the ball would hopefully stay in place while the dog went up and over the ramp. Ninety per cent of the time it did - when it did fall the crowd just roared with laughter. Somehow I think we had been set up!

Of course the star of this display was not one of the carting breeds at all but "Amy" a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, This little dog had her own pretty cart and was cheered on by the contented crowd.

I also had the honour to watch the Newfoundland display when the carts were so prettily decked out, and the handlers dressed in the national costume, theirs was a well put together simulated water rescue. What was nice with these individual displays, were they were able to be seen in their own rings. Take the time to visit and they will give you so much information and explain how your dogs can take part. They will also tell you about some of the other carting breeds. such as the stunning Dalmatian.

Another familiar sight now is the increasingly popular Heelwork to Music, with Kath Hardman being a magnificent teacher in this art, and I believe set a new world record with her largest Heelwork to Music training lesson held in the arena and all day lessons in her own marquee, Kath’s own article appears in "Our Dogs" next week - Thanks Kath! I did finally get to meet her on the Sunday, and she made me very welcome.

Ditton Dog Training Club demonstrated puppy training, and some basic commands so necessary for our wonderful dogs; this was done in the main ring, with an ongoing workshop in an outer ring where dog owners could go, to put their dogs through the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme. There were handy tips, helpful advice and plenty of encouragement with a fellow breed advisor managing to get her five month old Pyrenean Mountain dog "Phoenix" - or "Alchazandis Vosubleniy" - being I believe the youngest to complete not just the Bronze Award but the Silver. So well done Phoenix and many congratulations to Briony Lazarides, Making it a hat trick with "Smudge" and His Mum "Pig" All, also completing the five minutes downathon (That'll do Pig!) Sorry Briony couldn’t resist that!

Another of the favourite outside rings was the Whippet racing, The Phoenix Pedigree Whippet Racing Club showing how the racing is taught and the dogs certainly loved it.

Also the Scurry Course, not for the faint hearted, or someone as daft as me that just had to have a go, in case you don’t know what happens here, I'll explain, it’s a 40 metre course littered with straw bales, the idea is to dash from one end to the other with your dog, or if you’re sensible, someone holds the dog, and you have the common sense to go to the other end, call your dog and the fastest dog in the morning and afternoon wins a rosette. I think my dog thought the bales were incredibly comfy and just the right place to have a nap! I think the organisers of this event just fell about laughing at the sight of a grown woman begging, pleading, blackmailing and imploring her dog to please, please come. (I know, I should have taken the pup, she's totally hyper! should have used the old grey matter!) Thinking about it, perhaps the Downathon could be organised around her next year!
I nearly had a go at the Hide and Seek course, but had developed a little more common sense by then, mind you thinking about that now I could have entered the pup, armed with the liver cake being sold she would have completed the half Marathon for more of that cake.

From 10am each day you could have had a go at that. The Contech Volunteer Search and Rescue dogs had a really nice secure fenced off area, where a handler held your dog, you hid and then your dog would be released to try to find you. Again the quickest dogs were awarded a rosette. All proceeds for that went to Special Needs and Parents with kind permission of the organisers.

The Huskies in Harness is a noisy but delightful event, with the proud 'mushers' showing just how quick these dogs can race around the ring, I know these dogs don’t even have to learn this skill, it is a natural instinct. These Mushers not only gave a superb display at "All About Dogs" they attend many events, many with time trials, all over the country. With most of the racing being done in the winter, the most famous UK venue being at Aviemore in Scotland, and televised all around the world. It is easy to see why Husky racing is so popular, as it’s a terrific sight to see the dogs line up and the 'Mushers' give the signal to go, and then you understand the meaning of "Now you see me, now you don’t!".

If all of this wasn't fast enough for you, then Kevin the 6 year old Border Collie or "Lunarlite Pale Moonlight" (his posh kennel name) made you catch your breath. This dog is crazy about the weave poles, when a youngster he just loved agility, but especially the poles, in fact he seemed to live and breathe them, always wanting to go one better. (The standard competition level is between the minimum six and maximum 12) Kevin's owner, Elaine Auty decided that maybe he should have a go at the world record which is a continuous line of 60 weave poles with a start and finish distance to complete.

His first attempt in 1999 was only just off the current world record, then only needing to shave a mere half a second. As he matured he gained more experience and finally broke the world record for 60 weaves in september 2001 at the age of just 4, and still holds the world record with a cracking time of 14.35 seconds. If you thought your dog could beat this you could have a go, I don’t think anyone was able to beat it at all over the two days. What a dog!

There were several Agility sections around the main arena from the starters to the really experienced, the Superdog course being the hardest and designed to test dog and handler.

You could have a go at a cost of £1 with dogs that successfully completed the course receiving a certificate. All being done under strict supervision with judge and steward on hand at all times.

Most in the dog agility world know that a standard course consists of 20 pieces of equipment in an area 30 metres by 30 metres. At "All About Dogs", show director Roy Dyer had the idea to attempt a Guinness world record attempt, with 200 pieces of equipment in an arena 60 metres by 150 metres. The Essex Dog Display team, Ray Amps of RVA Agility equipment and judges Steve Nelson and Andy Widdess, who is also the course master were on hand, agility teams, enthusiasts and professionals were asked to submit 10 names of the best dogs and handlers to make up the team for the weekends record attempt. The team entry fee was a very small £20.00 with Nature’s menu dog food providing £200 in sponsorship for rosettes and trophies, all other costs were met by the shows organisers. A unique certificate has been commissioned to confirm attendance and achievements, as yet I haven't been given information on results, I will let you know when I have them.

Marion Carding was another showing her Beagles taking on the Agility course set up in the main arena. I think this whole weekend proves that almost any dog could have a go.

Flyball is another fast game with 16 teams competing in their own ring, the Mad Mutts Flyball Team showing their skills in the main arena. But just to explain, there are four dogs per team with four hurdles to jump, one paw on the ball release, hopefully the dog catches it, and races back over the hurdles. This sport is now popular throughout the world. Another event I'm afraid for which I don't have results as yet.

Slowing down the pace a bit was the remarkable Southern Golden Retriever Demonstration team, doing beautiful heelwork, obedience and control work, all to music. This was totally in time and a real treasure to see, I can’t wait to see what they have for next year.

The Romford and District Canine Society gave a very interesting talk on what to expect in the show ring, how to move and set your dog up ready for the judge. Now this talk was very expertly done, not an easy achievement. We ardent showers think we know it all. We all learnt a lot from this. Maybe those that watched might be in the show ring next year.

The rain held off for the hugely popular "Downathon" with all proceeds going to Pro-Dogs. It took a while to assemble the dogs but after much begging from Peter Purves the huge arena filled up, a quick count up and some more dogs were asked to come in - the organisers needed just a few more to take it to over 400 and the final toll I think was 407 dogs. The countdown began and after a lone Newfoundland settled the start was called and a huge hush descended on the crowd and even the dogs and handlers silenced, it was the most incredible sight to behold. After the five minutes were up an almighty cheer went up and massive applause from the spectators thrilled all. All those that took part were presented with a goody bag complete with certificate.

The finale of each day was the lovely parade of breeds and organisations, such as the Anti-Docking Alliance dogs showing many of the breeds better known without their tails such as The Old English Sheepdogs, Dobermanns, and Rotties, all presented beautifully; also featured among the breeds were the Maremma Sheepdog, the Canaan Dog, The Chesapeake Bay Retriever, The Segugio Italiano, Hovawart, and so many more. The organisations represented included the PDSA, The Wood Green Animal Shelters, GSD rescues, Greyhound rescue, PAT Dogs Pro Dogs and again many more. Sunday’s Grand Parade was slightly marred by torrential rain, but most stayed and braved the weather. So hearty congratulations to you all. All the breed advisors were given a certificate by the Mayor of Brentwood.

The Inter-counties Police Dog trials took place in the main arena and again there own ring. The exercises are known as Control exercises and Criminal Work exercises, this being the 17th year of the trial. The competitors come from all over the UK. Results are on their way.

Finally there were four special awards created to honour the many Rescue dogs that have contributed so greatly to society. One such award was for

Rescue Person of the year
awarded for outstanding contribution to Rescue Dogs.
1st place to Val Phillips, Valgray Border Collie Rescue of Wallingham
2nd place to Tony Waller, Bedlington Terrier Rescue of Rotherham
3rd place to Peter Wilson, Lakeland Trailhound Trust of Cumbria.

Achiever of the Year
Award for outstanding achievement
1st place to Police dog 'Major 91' handled by Pc Jason Cooke of the Metropolitan Police
2nd place to 'Stella'. hearing Dog for the Deaf, to Jean Clist
3rd place to 'Dainty Diva' qualified CDex UDex, Wdex, Award of Merit at TD

Family Pet of the Year
Award for outstanding contribution to family life
1st place to 'Peggy' (Corgi) Sophie Harris of Stafford
2nd place to 'Bob' (Border Collie) N. Riches of Woodford Green, Essex
3rd place to 'Jess' (Border Collie) Pat Richards of St. Austell, Cornwall.

Improver of the Year
Award for overcoming traumatic experiences
1st place to 'Manuel' Lynne Taylor, of Newark Nottinghamshire
2nd place to 'Cascade' Gina Graham, of South Stafford
3rd place to 'Brittany'(Lurcher) L. Stanley of London.