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.