Keeping Obedience Afloat

People say ‘leave it alone’, ‘keep it the same’, ‘don’t touch our obedience’, but actually, nothing ever stays the same – it can’t because life changes.

Things that don’t evolve, become extinct. That’s life.

Obedience hasn’t stayed the same over time – exercises have come and gone, classes have come, gone and come back again, shows have come and gone too – and occasionally some of those have also come back again, the way in which we train has changed, the style of work too and the degree of accuracy that we expect from our competing teams. The competitive spirit is very different than it used to be – often you hear people say that competitors take it too seriously these days – those who talk fondly of the good old days where there was banter and heckling and playing tricks and sometimes a bit too much alcohol at lunchtime. Dog training was a hobby, to enjoy with friends with competing teams coming from voluntarily run clubs – there was no business involved, no professional dog trainers and risk assessment and risk management didn’t exist. There was also little/no competition from other dog related sports, to attract the dog enthusiasts to do more that just own a dog.

We are in a position now though where we are an ageing obedience population, and we are losing people from the older end of that cohort, and not replacing them as quickly at the younger end – competitors and judges alike. Long running shows are folding. Secretaries report increasing difficulty in recruiting judges, in order to schedule the full spectrum of classes. Pre Beginner and Beginner entries, are generally low – with the occasional celebration of larger classes. Increasingly shows are merging Dog and B••••h classes as it logistically makes sense. Ticket classes are small, admittedly not helped by Covid, but well before that, the days of 60 entries and a reserve list were long gone.

This does not mirror what is happening in newer dog related sports such as Scentwork, Mantrailing and Hoopers – all of which are growing quickly.

If we don’t continue to evolve in some way, Obedience will become extinct. Unfortunately. Sadly. That’s life.

The world changing is the biggest threat to Obedience – not the KC, not the OLC, not BCOS and not those that are brave enough to make suggestions as to how we can ensure Obedience swims instead of sinks.

I get that people don’t want Obedience to change – those of us in it are hooked, we love it as it is ….but we have got to be realistic about what’s happening and do something about it. If we always do, what we’ve always done, we will always get, what we always got – ie a declining sport, however passionate those of us that are in it, are. Instead of defensively fighting off the suggestions of others, come up with solutions – and not just ‘why don’t the kC…’, but really positive, practical, small steps that we could take together that would keep Obedience afloat, without compromising what we all love.

Dawn Cox

Because we love Obedience

I am writing this as the Chair of the Obedience Liaison Council and also with a very personal view. The following two sayings are well known and have certainly been used on many occasions before this; however I’m going to quote them again;

‘I have a dream’
‘If you build it they will come’

As someone who loves dogs and dog sports and has competed in obedience since 1970, I joined the original Belfast DTC in 1969 then joined Lisburn & District DTC in 1979 when I moved to Lisburn. I have also been competing in Agility since the early 1980’s, I’ve been the Northern Ireland Obedience Rep for some 36 years. I have watched reps come and go – some good for our sport some not so much.

I think most of us who compete, judge, steward, help out at clubs/show and who organise shows are very aware that our beloved sport is at a crossroads.

Geographically our sport has been divided most noticeably during the great stay debate – do they stay or do they go. The outcome did not please everyone and it saddens me to read some of the comments on Social Media for those who made it about winning and losing. The facts are that the decision has been made and we must move on for the good of our chosen sport.

A few of us have gotten together to discuss how we could help motivate people to take our sport forward. Myself, Carole Patrick, Debra Lavender, Kathy Russell, Bev Smith and the KC’s very own Heidi Lawrence having been having online calls to discuss what we could do to help move things forward in obedience. We started by making comparisons with another fabulous dog sport Agility; concentrating on the excellent and very popular KC International Agility Festival also the numerous agility finals that are hosted at Crufts, Olympia, Dogs In Need, Scottish Dog of the Year, Irish Agility Dog of the Year and all the qualifying heats that go hand in hand to reach the finals.

As a group we are excited in hoping/thinking that have an Obedience Festival could be the start of something big on the obedience calendar. Looking forward to 2023 starting small (just like the KC Agility Festival did) with a two day event hoping that going forward it could be a three day event or perhaps even a four day festival. Maybe even an International Obedience Festival. Running some classes that would perhaps tempt over our fellow competitors from the continent – the way the Crufts World Cup did.
Currently we are looking to source venues to get costs in order for us to complete a Business Case as to how we can finance this venture. We are aware that the KC are not in a position to help fund this so we really need to attract some sponsors and using the KC name may indeed open some doors in that department.

What we are looking for from the obedience fraternity is some buy in, volunteers, ideas and also gauge interest in the idea.

So my ask is – if any of you out there think you could help/advise. If you have any expertise in running events (doesn’t have to be a dog show) and think you could help.
May I ask that you contact your Area Representative giving your name and details of any help you would be prepared to give.

We also discussed running qualifiers for a possible Dog Of The Year in Beginners – C. With qualifiers being held at Open/Championship shows throughout 2022 and all qualifiers going forward to the final at the KC Obedience Festival. Also we would look at applying to gain Championship Status for at least one day also Home International Competition for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. We are of course open to all reasonable ideas and all help will be gladly received.

I know we can do this and it will help bring us all together and the bonus is we get a brilliant new event to go to with our wonderful dogs.


Michael McCartney

Sunday Morning Ramblings

I have been in the sport for 30+ years and I honestly think that the major issue that is affecting Obedience today is not the actual exercises but the fact that the “grassroots” of our sport has been trimmed so close to the earth that it is struggling to grow. By this I mean IF people really want Obedience to survive then there is only one cure, TEACH.

I don’t mean teach people that are already in Obedience I mean teach people that have no idea what Obedience is, bring new people into the sport. I also don’t mean teaching the KC good citizens, I mean teach the obedience exercises. I don’t just mean the best trainers in the country either, I mean EVERYONE, even people in Beginners and Novice, If you have trained a dog to that standard then you can teach someone else to do it.

Continue reading “Sunday Morning Ramblings”

Show secretary’s report – Elm Park Championship Show

What a weekend! We had the fuel problems, the A13 was closed for roadworks, making the traffic worse than normal. If that wasn’t enough the weather threw everything at us, sunshine, torrential rain, wind and what seemed to be a mini tornado. To top it all, our suppliers of the toilets did not finish delivering the toilets until about 7.00 ish as their wagon’s engine blew up and they had to use a car and trailer to deliver 2 toilets at a time. Despite all of this, it was a great show.

Thanks to everyone who turned up on Friday to help Ian and I with the rings, signs, tables, chairs and unloading everything. John and Kath Westell, Rod and Liz White, Sue Starr, Dave Gillet, Jan Witham, Julia Tuck, Kim Ford, Julie Enright, Paula Kenny, Les Tolliday, Mick and Lyn Johnson and Colin Sutton, many hands make light work.

Continue reading “Show secretary’s report – Elm Park Championship Show”

Show secretary’s report – East Kilbride Championship Show

East Kilbride Championship Show on 5th September 2021

This was the first of a Scottish Triple of Championship Shows in 2 weekends & it both started & ended the contribution to the show calendar for our part of the world.

We were given the chance of running a ‘no frills’ show after a relaxation of the COVID-19 restrictions, and we grabbed it with very little time to spare.

Continue reading “Show secretary’s report – East Kilbride Championship Show”

Competitor’s Report – Great Baddow

I had a lovely, lovely day today at the Great Baddow Dog Training Club’s Obedience Show.

The day was fine and dawned with a misty haze which, as the day progressed, gave way to bright sunshine and heat.

A 53-mile trip for me, the M25 was kind and I sailed along and through the Dartford Tunnel with no waiting at all. A pleasant and trouble-free drive, with no issues locating the show itself which was both well signed and staffed at the entrance. We were quickly and efficiently parked up on the sloping grass behind the show ground and greeted by a board showing the class lists and ring lay out. This open, public park lends itself well to dog shows and there was ample space for the rings, sauntering around, and dog exercising – some of it punctuated by local dog walkers and people and children out for a stroll or to use the park facilities. From my perspective, we rubbed along very nicely – even the errant pet poodle who wandered up to say hello was friendly and eventually captured. I heard tell that a spaniel shot through a higher-class ring, but that could be apocryphal although it is not unlikely!

Continue reading “Competitor’s Report – Great Baddow”

Show Secretary’s Report – Elmrock at Plantation Park & Five of Clubs

Elmrock and Five of Clubs Weekend

Well what can I say? Within a few hours of Gt. Yarmouth and Norfolk Broads clubs announcing they’d decided not to hold their shows this year, and after a couple of phone calls and WhatsApp messages, we’d swung into action lol

Massive thanks to all our judges & stewards who happily agreed to swap over, and to the extra judges needed and to the ones on standby in case someone got “pinged” and had to isolate. Fortunately that didn’t happen.

Huge thanks as always to our lovely camping ladies – Gloria Fountain & Helen Jermy. You know you’re back at PP as they’re always the first faces you see when they appear with the camping lists to help everyone find their spots.

And thanks to the 2 Steves (Steve Parmiter & Steve Clark) doing the day parking – a bit easier than our May shows! Thanks guys. Thanks to Glynis Smith for making some lovely cakes for us again – much appreciated.

And – yay!!! I don’t have to thank any stay stewards


Thanks to Barry Fitter for coming over to help us put up the rings and thanks again to Vanda Fitter for taking all our scent cloths to wash and iron. We’re really grateful for that Vanda.

And I should thank Dave Gillett for doing the smelliest job of all – keeping the cesspit emptied



And lastly, mega thanks to Richard Kebble for being our Chief Steward both days. We had a few laughs and not too many things to tax your brain!

A successful two days and nice to relax and let the Five of Clubs gang take over for the third day. Hope everyone enjoyed the weekend. See you all again at the Elmrock Weekend next May (28/29/30)


Kath Westell
Show Secretary

Show Manager’s Report – Chesvale

CHESVALE DTC Open Obedience Show
Sunday 29th August 2021

Our first show in 2 years due to the pandemic and after the initial shock in realising that Clare Williams and myself are not ‘match fit’ the show turned out to be fantastic!

With 25 of our members on hand to help set up, rake all the rings from grass clippings, work all day and finish off leaving the showground in perfect condition it reminds me of how lucky we are to have such a supportive membership. I would like to thank them all personally, but it would make this post even longer so consider this a collective pat on the back with an extra one for Clare Williams our show secretary and my partner in crime without whom we couldn’t run the show.

Thanks to our super judges and their stewards who gave their time freely, with many competitors giving thanks for their efforts and for the help, advice and the time they gave to everyone who came into their ring. Our entries were 23 in Special Pre-Beginner, 30 in Pre-beginner, 38 in Beginner, 87 in Novice. The numbers were down on our previous August show which I’m hoping was a just a blip because of the 3 day show being put on at Plantation Park but after losing so many shows over the last 18 months every show is precious.

The weather was perfect for the dogs, with cloud cover and occasional sunshine but never too hot. Our new caterers were on hand to not only cater for the competitors but also supplied a great buffet lunch for our judges and stewards. One thing Chesvale is renowned for is our catering and no-one goes home hungry!

The training rings were manned by Donna Bastin and Sue Monk who worked tirelessly throughout the day, starting before judging commenced and ending with us having to call a halt to it at 4.30 p.m. Our chosen charity was The Thin Blue Paw, a charity that provides care for ex-service dogs in need of support when their organisations can no longer care for them. Donna and Sue took £167.55 on the day and Chesvale will make this up to a round £200.00 to donate to this wonderful charity.

We would like to thank YuMOVE for their support and donations of a year’s supply of their super product, Adult Daily Bite, for our winners in each class and a large tub for 2nd and 3rd places. One competitor won 2 classes and was a small dog so probably has 6 years’ worth of supplements!

I have already posted photos of the day which I hope will be an inspiration to newcomers to the sport showing so many different breeds taking part and being successful in their own way. The atmosphere at the show was fantastic, relaxed, friendly with a minimum of restrictions but with everyone being considerate regarding social distancing. We were touched by the number of wonderful remarks and thanks given to us on the day and in some posts on Facebook, it is always great to hear that you have ‘done good’!

Final thanks go to all the competitors who came to the show, it was lovely to see so many old faces and many new ones. We look forward to welcoming you at our 2022 shows on Sunday 1st May and Sunday 28th August 2022.

Carol Spencer
Show Manager and proud Chairman

Lune Valley DTC – Secretary’s Report

WOW – That was different but seemed to work. Thank you to all at Wirral and Wigton for joining us in what was a great three-days of Championship Obedience Shows. The three committees and helpers worked well together and made the whole process easier for each club, enabling all three Champ classes to take place this year.It felt like only yesterday since our last show, but it was two years, how things have changed. Because of COVID we needed to make the show as safe as possible for everyone, we had a new entrance for day parking which worked very well, allowing more space for camping, I think this will be carried forward to future shows. We had a new catering service, I think everyone would agree was a great success, and packed lunches for our judges which again I feel worked well, it meant we didn’t have ‘crowds’ in a catering marquee, also considerably less work for our very small committee! Thank you to everyone for being COVID aware and acting sensibly in these strange times.Thank you to all our judges and stewards and thank you for accepting the changes we put in place to allow the show to go ahead. We will have to see what next year brings.

Thank you to all our competitors, I hope you enjoyed your weekend of shows. Well done to all our winners, it was nice to see such a variety of breeds in the line ups, I’m sure Alison will be posting many photos before long!!

Again, my thanks to Wirral and Wigton committee and members for joining us at this brilliant venue and helping to get the Obedience Shows up and running again.

Lesley Alsop

Show secretary’s report – North West Kent

I think that it is fair to say that the weekend went really rather well despite the weather doing its very best to spoil things – I never knew that there were so many weather apps or so many forecasters around but they were all mostly wrong. We did start Saturday with thunder and lightening but it didn’t scare those at the venue off one little bit. Sunday offered more of the same including the threat of torrential downpours but they were steered away to the north east of London thankfully. Attendance was down due to these forecasts but we are grateful to all those who took the option to stay on the rugby club car park, I would say that the groundsman was very happy too.

Thank you to all the competitors that did make it, the atmosphere around the venue was amazing, smiley happy people, the release from Covid restrictions clearly had a part to play and the fact that were able to run the show in the ‘old fashioned’ way helped enormously.

Many thanks to all our judging teams, almost all of whom honoured agreements made for 2020, to the stewards and scoreboarders who help so much towards everyone’s success. Congratulations to all our winners, especially Lorna Hilton & Lenny, Dog CC and Jodi Lunn with Fia, B Girl CC, good luck at Crufts 2022. Well done to all club members, what a haul of rosettes, (and points), were collected over the 2 days, success for 2 first timers too.

This show is only a success because NWK have an amazing group of helpers and we receive offers of help from competitors too, I cannot name everyone as there are too many and I would hate to miss anyone but the camping team deserve a special mention, this is a difficult venue to police and without Linda Plows, Vanda Fitter, Gaynor Taylor and Thelma Alexander taking up the task of seeing everyone parked up correctly plus those that sat on the gate until 10 pm (sorry but I might miss one of you as I know you arranged it amongst yourselves) a sincere thank you to you all.

Aylesford Bulls Rugby club were really welcoming and there were many compliments regarding the catering – the picnic box lunch was a huge success and the cream teas were amazing. The working surface was in perfect order so a great all round effort from them was appreciated.

Only one really rather annoying incident that involved several members due to one person wanting delay their arrival until way after the venue gates are locked at 10pm – there is a reason for this, Travellers make repeated attempts to gain access to the venue and is why we had someone manning the gate from Friday to Sunday during daylight hours, it is not unreasonable to expect everyone coming to the show to comply with the request to arrive before the stated closure time. That the Club Manager had to be got out of bed at 11.45 to let the late comer in was beyond unreasonable and could have lost us the venue in the future. Such irresponsible action could put our future use of the venue in jeopardy and a 2 day event gone from the calendar.

We hope to be back to even more normality next year, 23 & 24 July 22, without the need to cap entries although smaller shows have some advantages!

Eileen RestellE