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!

I had planned a training day for my youngster, Eric, who is just venturing into Novice. Having languished for 5 seasons in Pre-Beginners with the quirky Dermott McSquirmott, it is rather nice to be in with the grown-ups at last. I was number two in the running order and presented myself correctly, and on time, to be greeted by a very anxious steward who found herself without a judge. The judge, it was confirmed, was nowhere to be found and could not be reached on the telephone. Happy in the sunshine all the gathered competitors were utterly content to wait and see events unfold. Shortly thereafter we were supplied with a reserve judge and were just about to get going when our judge, Lynda Potter, arrived. The poor lady was very distraught and full of apologies. It transpired she had got lost on the way (I blame the Satnav) and had had to make a massive detour to find us. As an assembled group of competitors, we did our very best to enquire as to her welfare and convince her that we were just delighted to have her at last whatever the delay. And so, we got started, the reserve judge returned to her C ring, and our judge and her steward settled quickly into their rhythm, allowing us to train or compete as we wished and offering helpful comments. I had a super time in their ring and came out very pleased with Eric who was happy and enthusiastic throughout and seemed very much to enjoy his round. So much so that he nipped off to get his dumbbell before we were supposed to perform the retrieve and brought it to me grinning from ear to ear. I have been so lucky to have been taught by expert trainers who delight in a happy dog and feel very blessed to have a dog who wants to work with me in the ring.

Eric finished for the day having fun in a training round in Rob Summerfield’s Pre-Beginner ring. Then it was Dermott McSquirmott’s turn as we make the most of our very few last attempts in this class. Five years, yes five years, we have resided there and now, nearing retirement, Dermott has suddenly conceded he can do it after all and achieved a third place.

By lunch time I was done, but there are always people to talk to and fun to be had. I had my lunch by the car with my dogs. Took another turn with them together and individually around the show ground and watched some of the higher classes at work. I also kept an eye out for the ice cream van, which I had heard ringing its chimes throughout the early afternoon. It turned out I was looking in entirely the wrong direction and it was only when I saw some of my friends with delicious ices that I demanded, somewhat rudely, “where did you get those?” before hurrying off in the right direction. There is nothing quite like ice cream van ice cream on a sunny afternoon in all its glorious stickiness and with a double flake as well. It quite made my day.

By 3 o’clock many of the rings were finished and it was time to draw the raffle held in aid of the Essex Air Ambulance. I won a prize, in fact I won three prizes. The secretary declined multiple winners’ requests that second or more prizes should be returned to the draw on the grounds that we would never get it done. I never got my third prize, number 235 in green. I know I had it but when I went forward to claim my prize, I realised that Eric had eaten my ticket. I kid you not!

Now, it really was time to pack up and go home and the car lines were slowly thinning out. It was a grand day out and my grateful thanks go to Great Baddow for all their hard work in putting it on and I hope the raffle raised a handsome amount for such a worthwhile cause.

Next stop Micheldever. See you there.

Katrina Arnold

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