Bark in the Park

Ravensknowle Park, Huddersfield - August 2

I must admit that I find it extremely gratifying to be involved with a bunch of people whose aim is simply to enjoy their dogs. Every year a small group of us calling ourselves Huddersfield Fun4Paws organise a dog fun day in a beautiful little park in Huddersfield called Ravensknowle Park. We are an eclectic mix, some of us from the show scene, some from the agility and flyball scene, dog wardens and some just happy to muck in, writes John D Jackson

It all started when we realised that we were all of a like mind in that we were totally cheesed off with the local (and national) press going to town every time there was a bad incident in the town involving a dog. Sure enough out came the snarling, slavering Rottweiler photo and the obligatory photo of the wounded person. Almost never was there a full report of the situation in which the dog had been placed. Neither was there ever any attempt to redress the balance by reporting on a good incident involving a dog.

So off I went with my wife Eileen to see the News Editor of the Huddersfield Examiner and told him in no uncertain terms about our views. However we went prepared because we had already put the wheels in motion for a dog fun day which we advertised as promoting responsible dog ownership in Huddersfield.

That was three years ago and we have now established our Bark In The Park as an annual event. This year's was held last Saturday and the gods really smiled on us with the weather. We had have a go agility, a knockout flyball competition, an obedience display by the Huddersfield branch of the British Association for German Shepherd Dogs and a fun dog show judged by my dear friend Margaret Wildman. Well it was supposed to be Margaret & Frank Wildman, but she was enjoying it so much she left him on the sidelines. We make virtually no concession to the pedigree show scene. There are no pedigree classes in the dog show. Everybody mucks in together.
However this year we had a cracking idea. We put on a parade of unusual breeds of dog. To a showdog exhibitor they weren't unusual at all but to the general public they were. We had 24 breeds ranging from Affenpinscher to Neapolitan Mastiff, and I can't thank my show friends enough for helping us out with it. We had quite a crowd around the ring for it.

No holes needed!

Everything we do is aimed at the dog owning public of Huddersfield and boy, did they turn out to support us! It really was a garden party atmosphere with families sat on the grass having picnics, walking round all the stalls of breed rescues, dog charities and local dog related businesses. Any profit we make from the dog show and a big raffle that we have plus sponsorship etc is given to charity. This year we will share it between the Forget Me Not Trust, a local children's hospice charity and the Cinnamon Trust. A nice touch of young and old we think.

I made reference at the start to bad dog incidents in the town. The last one involved an Akita attacking a young boy and then one of the policemen who tried to deal with it. For the first time this year we were asked by Akita Rescue if they could have a stall, to which we readily said yes. Not only did they come and discuss the breed with the prejudiced, the ill-informed and the genuinely interested, but they took part in the parade of unusual breeds to give people the opportunity to learn about the breed. At the end of the day they asked if they could come again next year, such was the benefit they felt from their first visit.

Many years ago during my days as a mining engineer, an old experienced safety engineer once said to me that whenever there was an incident there were never enough holes for the rats to run into. I like to think that in Huddersfield at least, me and my mates don't need the holes!
One final point.. to be fair to the Huddersfield Examiner, each year we have been given coverage of the event. We may not make the front page but this year we did make a full page. Watch this space.

View pictures from the show by clicking here

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