Those present at the show were
treated to a feast of canine excitement and endeavour, including a variety of hotly
contested competitions. The Scruffts Family Crossbreed Dog of the Year competition was
judged by Wendy Richard from East Enders, and the award went to Scampie, owned by Laura
Moreno-Chamorro from Plymouth.
Also taking place at the event
were the Semi finals of the Kennel Gazette Junior Warrant Winner of the Year competition,
which saw ten young dogs go through to the Grand Final at Crufts, which takes place from
9Ė12 March 2006. Other competitions at Discover Dogs included the semi finals of the YKC
Grooming Competition and the finals of the Companion Dog Club Competition.
Discover Dogs celebrates all that is good about manís best friend and all that is
beneficial and special about our relationship with them. One of the main themes of this
yearís show was the invaluable work of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, which helps make a
difference for dogs. The Trust was formed in 1987 and has distributed funds totalling
around £2million since its inception, with almost £300,000 awarded in grants last year
Said Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club
Secretary, 'We are delighted to have welcomed another record crowd to Discover Dogs,
proving once again what a wonderful show it is for anyone with an interest in dogs. It is
great news that the work of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust could be showcased to so many
people and we will now begin working to ensure that next yearís show is even more
Special Report: The
Alternative Handlers (TAH) Display
by Angela Lucas
little while ago, Rowena Beall sent out a message aimed at agility handlers who might not
be in the full fitness of health to begin a specialist group. Subsequently she was asked to
arrange a team to demonstrate at Discover Dogs in November at Earlís Court London. What
So there we all were last
Saturday, 12 November - all wearing our Discover Dogs polo shirts - meeting up for
the first time. There had been a little discussion via email about a suitable
name. The final answer came as The Alternative Handlers, and I will go into the whys later.
So TAH (The Alternative Handlers) had their first meeting and public debut in one day!
Personally Iím glad it was Discover Dogs.
Not having attended the show before, the show struck me as a scaled down and
relaxed Crufts. The emphasis was on allowing the public to meet many different and rare
breeds. Together with displays, I felt it was aimed at making people think ''yeah, I can do
The main ring had a lot of
agility for Saturday, and there was a different programme for Sunday. The Saturday
programme also had demonstrations of Heelwork to Music by two of the best in the field,
Mary Ray and Richard Curtis.
Despite the large agility
content, there were lots of different themes. Mini/Midi agility, rescued dog agility, mini
agility knockout (which proved to be very popular!) and, of course, our own rounds.
Partridge was our judge and Iím sure he must have stood there not knowing what to expect as
we started. The course had been planned for us and we were allowed a few minutes to walk
around it. It was the first time for many of us to run on an artificial surface, and it was
a strange feeling as we felt we were walking on sponges! As it turned out, the dogs all
looked extremely comfortable running on it and even the more excitable ones sobered up
enough to keep their footing. Our dogs arenít daft!
Now the purpose of our slot was
to demonstrate that agility includes everyone and it does not mean you have to be super fit
- legs to the armpits - or be able to run like the wind to join in. In actual fact, my
impression was that we demonstrated the control of our dogs not only close up, but at a
distance. We showed an 'alternative' approach to agility handling that hopefully the
audience could relate to, and feel that they could go home and try with their own dogs.
We came from all over the country. We ran Minis, Midi and Standard dogs. And we
all have different difficulties including arthritis, heart disease and breathing
difficulties. Some were recovering from serious operations or treatments. Some needed an
additional aid like a stick or crutch. One of us Christina, showed the audience that
wheelchair or not, you can teach your dog agility. She ran her GSD Oscar round the whole
course and they had only been training since the summer.
in all, our slot went well. Our supporters, planted in the audience, said they got great
responses from the people around them. We also learnt a few lessons. One was to make sure
that, in future, we briefed organisers about our access needs. Another was to ask for just
a couple of chairs for those who cannot stand for long periods.
Now the fact is that we donít
look upon ourselves as having disabilities and Iím sure I speak for most of us when I say
we only use 'that' word for want of a better one. However, as the person who lives with a
particular disadvantage lifelong, we each take responsibility to take precautions or extra
care at events. This may be in the form of special shoe wear, extra meds or someone who can
administer back up. Some of the handlers have a hidden illness which cannot be seen. They
look healthy on the outside but may be having to cope with a life threatening illness every
day. A day like at Discover Dogs helps us to support each other
What we hadnít realised was it
would be organised as a competition, and we were running for placings. Linda came first and
second with her dogs Toby and Chip, closely followed by Helen, Neville, Fran and Sue. There
were crystal trophies for first and second places, and we all were given large
commemorative rosettes by Maurice Cooke.
Afterwards Rowena said, 'It was a
big gamble for the kennel club and the alternative handlers as to how well we all could run
and how the audience would respond to it. It was well received and the arena was full up
hardly a empty seat left.'
Overall the day went very well,
and there was a positive feel as we finished. It was a good day out and we look forward to
another chance to get together.
The people organising the main arena and their team were great. We had people like
John Gilbert and Dave Ray keeping us in line as we waited. Thanks to the arena team who
worked like well oiled machines all day and were so helpful and polite.
Thank you to Maurice Cooke,
Director of Agility. Obedience and Events, who extended the invite to us and also to
Catherine Choules Events Manager the Kennel Club for arranging all agility at Discover Dogs
for The Alternative Handlers.