A Successful Agility Weekend

I have decided to give my loyal readers a rest bite from the seemingly endless and pointless ‘Daily Tweet’ posts.

Over the weekend we travelled down to the Newbury Show Ground, complete with caravan to compete at the Working Belgium Shepherd Dog Society Agility Show.

Boris and Charlie excelled themselves and picked up some places, Boris did exceptionally well winning two classes and coming second in another. The classes had nearly 80 dogs and the standard of competition was high.

It has given me a much needed boost to my enthusiasm as I had almost decided over the winter to give up the sport, but when I see how much the dogs enjoy it could I really deprive them of it?

Here are the videos of the runs.

Crufts Online

Crufts, the world’s most prestigious dog show, begins yesterday. This year however it won’t be on television.

The BBC and The Kennel Club fell out following the controversial documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed, broadcast on BBC One last August. It featured shocking footage, such as film of a King Charles Spaniel which was in intense pain because its brain was too big for its skull. The main thrust of the documentary was that The Kennel Club promote physical distortions that are unacceptably cruel to the dogs involved.

Following the broadcast the 40 year relationship between the BBC and with the Kennel Club fell apart. The Kennel Club lodged a complaint with the regulators and following the subsequent public outcry the BBC decided not to screen this year’s event claiming that the Kennel Club breed-standard requirements for 14 breeds are so unacceptable they shouldn’t be in the competition at all.

It was a public relations nightmare, the RSPCA and other dog welfare organisations withdrew their support, dog food makers Pedigree withdrew their sponsorship. However The Kennel Club refused to roll-over, although it did tighten up some of their rules on welfare.

The Kennel Club have responded to the lack of coverage by embracing the internet, and via the Crufts Live website people from all around the world can watch free live streaming video of the events taking place throughout the four days of competition this year, as well as a video on demand pay-for-view service.

It appears that the Kennel Club have fairly modest targets expecting around 100,000 people to use the service compared to 4.3 million viewers who tuned in to last year’s televised final. This year David Stranks, head of new media at Sunset + Vine, the company responsible for the online coverage has been quoted as saying: “If the site gets anything like those numbers, The Kennel Club will be over the moon.”

After watching some of the coverage yesterday I actually think the withdrawal of the BBC might actually be good for Crufts, the BBC coverage was often criticised for being banal and concentrated on the presenters rather than the competition. It focused mainly on the ‘breed’ competitions and there was almost no coverage of the other competitions such as Flyball and Agility which have a massive following draw huge crowds.

The online service allows coverage throughout every day, from 8.30am, and they are showing all the Flyball, Agility, Obedience and Heal Work competitions and demonstrations throughout the day from the main arena. I compete at Dog Agility and can say the response on certain forums and chatboards has been very positive about the expanded coverage of the sport.

Caroline Kisko, a spokesman for the Kennel Club has said “For the future we will be looking at all the different options; we haven’t decided which way to go yet. Broadcast TV undoubtedly reaches more homes, but I think the web will be a big part of whatever we do in the future.”

Weather ruins my Easter weekend!

As well as being a technophile my other main hobby is competing at dog agility. I share my life with my wife and my five terrier crosses, Toby (17 years old), Fred (14 years old), Charlie (10 years old), Boris (4 years old) and Basil (2 years old). They have all competed at agility a sport they love. You can see some of my efforts on my youtube.com page.

Agility has become a major part of my life, initially it was a diversion from my mundane job but I have steadily become more involved. I joined and then become the chairman of Nottingham Agility Dog Training Club. I have also become an accredited judge after taking the Kennel Club Regulations and Judging Procedure examination.

This weekend should have seen me at the Dashin’ Dogs Easter Show, four days in the heart of Cheshire on a lovely hilltop venue with views over Chester and in the distance the Queensferry and Mersey Estuaries. I was due to be judging today but unfortunately events overtook the show and it has been cancelled.

We arrived late on Thursday afternoon and it was cold and windy, the ground was a little damp but was holding up to the traffic reasonably well. I erected the windbreaks around the caravan and decided to leaving put the awning up till Friday morning because of wind. The weather forecast for the weekend was for cold, very cold weather with the risk of rain, sleet and snow.

We retired to spend the evening watching a bit of TV and went to bed. However the wind was getting much much worse, with bouts of torrential rain and occasionally hail the caravan was rocking wildly. This was a full blown storm! I was struggling to open the caravan door because of the strength of the wind and the windbreaks were leaning precariously but seemed to bearing up.

Then at around 2am we were waken (we weren’t really sleeping) by beeping horns and people shouting, quickly dressing I popped outside to discover that the panic was because the organisers marquee had collapsed and another had disappeared across the field into the darkness. Around 30 people were rushing to secure the now exposed equipment and load it into vans, cars and caravans and dismantle the flapping marquees. The PA equipment van had also toppled over. As well as the marquees other peoples caravan awnings and tents were collapsing under the tempest’s onslaught. I finally went back to bed about 4am and we awoke to blazing sunshine but still howling wind!

Understandably the organisers Nigel and Emma had no choice but to cancel the show, the forecast was for continuing strong winds and it would have been negligent to risk the safety of the public and dogs in those conditions, let alone the logistical nightmare of the lost marquees. The rain and sleet had also turned the field into a potential mud bath and a number of people without four-wheel drive needed towing off.

So forlornly we packed up (difficult in the wind) and travelled home (taking it slow in the strong wind). The caravan is now sat on the drive and needs a bit of a clean inside and out. It will be off back to storage later today and then we have to decide what to do over the next couple of days! Given the bad weather it probably won’t be a lot!

The caravan in sunnier times
Caravan

Doggysnaps.com

DoggySnaps.com

I am a dog lover, and share my home with four rescued terrier crosses ranging from 4 years old to 17 years. I am actively involved in the sport of dog agility. You can see some of my efforts on my youtube.com page.

I just stumbled across the Dog Trust’s photo-sharing community, DoggySnaps.com. The site is wonderfully designed with an impressive attention to detail.

The site has just won the social category in the Yahoo Finds of the Year competition, reflecting the best of user generated content on the web. Doggysnaps is the first UK-based website dedicated to dog lovers where they can build profiles for their canine companions, swap dog related tips, photos, stories and ideas.

The judging panel were impressed by the design of the site and especially enjoyed the ‘Dog of the Week’ section. They also liked the fact the site is run by a charity – Dogs Trust. The trust cares for over 14,000 stray and abandoned dogs a year.

Steve Bridger on his nfp2.0 blog has an interesting article discussing the design of the website.

Time to post my four mutts up!