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Laverock Holiday Cottages Competition

Everyone's a winner...

To celebrate the opening of their multi-dog friendly holiday cottages in May 2009, Mandy and Marcus Bainbridge organised a special competition. There were two prizes up for grabs. Each of the winners would get a weeks free holiday in their new holiday cottages, situated at Laverock Indoor Agility Centre.. There were two categories 'My Special Dog' and 'My Rescue Dog.'  Of all the entries, judged by author and retired vet Neville Turner MRCVS, two stood out. Congratulations to winners Jackie Bromwich and Sheena Scrafton.

My Special Dog
By Jackie Bromwich

I consider myself fortunate to have owned many dogs, and while every one of them has been special, there are some who stand out above the rest.  Such a dog was Bracken, a pretty tri-colour border collie. Born in a barn on the side of a mountain on a Welsh hill farm, from illustrious trialling parents, Bracken was destined to go abroad as a puppy, but the sale fell through at the last minute and she was offered to me

Her early sheepdog training was interesting to say the least. She was fast, keen, determined and didn't take prisoners. I trained her by waving my arms and shouting a lot!  However, with patience, time and experience on both sides, she managed to overcome my ineptitude, and became invaluable to me in the management of my sheep. She learned the routine of all the regular jobs and would gather the sheep from where they were, and put them where they needed to be with the minimum of fuss.  In later years, if I tried to get bossy and start ordering her around, she would almost sigh and raise her eyes to the heavens, and get on with what she was doing anyway, and her way was almost invariably right. If she’d listened to me more, the jobs would have taken twice the time! 

She was always willing to work, no matter what the weather, was tough as old boots, very forceful, and would never quit . She was working at the back of the race once day and an old ewe charged her and caught her against a brick wall, fracturing several ribs. We didn’t realise that she had been injured as she just kept on working, and it was only later when she started coughing blood that we realised how much damage had been done.

She also saved me from injury on one occasion when I had a stroppy ram in with the ewes. While I was feeding, I had taken my eye off him, and he charged me from behind. Bracken was on the other side of the gate, but she shot underneath and dived between me and the ram and, by sheer force of personality, drove him away, enabling me to get up and out of the way. I have no doubt that I could have been injured quite badly by him had Bracken not intervened.

In her later years, Bracken and I developed such a close relationship that she was like an extension of myself. She worked absolutely in harmony with me, and I loved every minute of shepherding with her. I loved her so much that when she developed Addison's disease at nine years old, it never occurred to me that she wouldn’t get better, but the vets were unable to stabilise her condition and she had crisis after crisis. 

Eventually they came to the conclusion that she had a pituitary tumour, and her body grew weaker and weaker, although her spirit remained as unquenchable as ever.  The day before she died, although she was desperately thin and weak, she jumped out of the window of the Landrover and insisted on helping with the lambs that we were struggling to pen without her.

Bracken never competed in any trials, never won trophies, and was just an ordinary sheepdog doing a daily job of work to the best of her ability, but she was invaluable to me, and I loved her. I scattered her ashes across the fields that she knew so well, where sheep will always graze and whispered @Run free Bracken. There will be sheep to herd in heaven.'

As I write this, there is a tri-colour puppy, who was born in a barn on the side of a mountain on a Welsh hill farm at my side. Fern has a lot to live up to.


My Rescue Dog
By Sheena Scrafton

Imagine the scene. 24 dogs waiting to move to their new kennels. Barking, howling, yowling and excited chattering. Mayhem. Dog number 25 is lying in her cage. A black mass with quiet, intense eyes watching everything over a big bushy tail. Silent. This was Sadie.

The eyes had it and I fell in love with her straight away.

She had recently been rescued from a local croft, having finally been abandoned after spending the first three years of life locked in a shed. Apart from having the clarted hair removed from her rear end and a long thin scar down her muzzle where she had repeatedly pushed her nose under her enclosure, she didn’t look too bad for a long-haired Belgium Shepherd x collie.

Predictably, she was terrified of everything and almost anyone. She preferred her cage to the garden. When she did go out, she had no strength to run or jump with the other dogs. She didn’t know how to play and her lack of canine social skills meant she misread body language, resulting in misunderstandings and squabbles.

She wasn’t housetrained. She ate her poo - hown as well as everyone else's - dog, cow, deer, horse and rabbit. Feeding time was a desperate rush to complete her meal so she could start on every other dog' bowl before they finished. She drank water as if there was a drought forecast, dousing her head in the bucket and finally putting all four paws in for a wash.

Throughout the days of training, walking, playtime, grooming and handling she never showed any signs of aggression or bad temper. As she grew in confidence, she went exploring in the garden on her own, wanted to be the first out of the front door and began to sniff the paths and fields, learning to use her nose for the first time. An excited light appeared in her eyes.

Agility training really brought joy to her heart. Getting private training to run and jump – what could be better?

As I write this and look down at her sleeping at my feet, I feel proud of her achievements. She is brave, gentle and trusting. She has a great sense of humour and is willing to try almost anything. She has learned to live well with other dogs and to accept other humans. She still eats like there is no tomorrow. She loves nothing better than jumping into the garden pond whatever the weather, trailing water into the house. She adores the beach. She hoards toys and rubbish, hiding them in her bed for hard times that might be ahead - rather like a prisoner of war who never knows when things might come in handy.

When I left her at the starting line at her first agility competition, she instantly ran across the course all the way back to our van. Now she can complete a round, usually in the correct order! If the judge is a man wearing a hat, I know we will bypass him at the expense of a contact or two, but it really doesn't matter.

I keep discovering things that frighten her - kids kicking a football, banging boots together to get the mud off, electronic beeps from the washing machine and any unpredicted, sudden movements. Every day is a learning experience for both of us.

Sadie has taught me patience, quietness and to accept each dog for what they are and for what they can give. She has also taught me to put all food out of reach!

  • To see her content and relaxed at the end of the day is success.

  • To see her play and have fun is success.

  • To see her put her nose up and smell the breeze is success.

  • To allow the male vet to give her the annual check-up without complete panic is success.

Her success. She is doing well. We are lucky to have found each other.


Laverock Holiday Cottages

Since opening, the cottages have had a 100% booking rate with many people re-booking the following year. The quickest rebooking record was 10 minutes after arriving!

The cottages come complete with a 120 foot indoor Agility Arena to hire, a five acre, stock free field on the doorstep, doggy shower rooms and enclosed gardens. Accessed via a private lane situated in designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the cottages which specialise in multi-dog occupancy, welcomes all 4-legged friends and their owners, too.

Owner Mandy Bainbridge said, 'We've really enjoyed meeting so many like minded agility and doggy folk and enjoyed sharing our farm and views with them. We've had lots of laughs, including the poor lady whose 3 year old daughter accidentally locked her outside in knee deep snow in her nightie (!) and the visiting Belgian Shepherd who got stuck in the river and ended up on the front page of the local paper after the Police and Search and Rescue Teams had to use a boat to rescue her! We're really looking forward to our 2011 visitors!'

To find out more about Laverock Holiday Cottages or Laverock Indoor Agility Arena, which is available for general hire as well as to cottage guests, please visit www.multidogcottages.co.uk