Ditton Weekend – Competitor’s Review

Many, many congratulations to Ditton Dog Training Club on their 50th Anniversary, and for giving us another two-day competition to remember.

I was there for both days. On Saturday I competed, and on Sunday I stewarded.

Saturday was hot. An early arrival at the show, I was soon sheeted up, checked in, and ready to present myself promptly at 9.00 a.m. for a running order with Eric in the B ring under Denise Harrild. I’m not quite sure why I entered B – a moment of confident over ambition! Anyway, I trained as we are nowhere near ready, but we came out to nice comments particularly from experienced, higher-level handlers who had come to see the round and watched us do the heelwork and retrieve. I am often dismayed to read that people have less than positive experiences in and around the rings, perhaps I am naïve or too thick skinned, but I have always found the camaraderie of Obedience very positive.

I also trained A under Wendy Hanlon and worked Novice under Gill Winyard and, by my own yardstick, I was pleased with our work.

The infamous Dermott McSquirmott also worked Novice under Pat Burford and was not last. I was outraged, we are losing our edge, we fully expect to be unassailably last and we were usurped by ¾ of a point!

Sunday, I stewarded Ticket for the lady dogs for Linda Baldock. This was hugely good fun, and we had a cohort of lovely handlers and for the most part, from my perspective, it went smoothly. It’s sad that people baulk about volunteering. I always enjoy my stewarding and I work on the assumption that I am very unlikely to kill anyone or, worse still, their dog. If I make a mistake, I make it a policy to be quick to own up and apologise. Today I managed to get completely tongue tied in calling one turn for one handler finally spitting it just about in time, and there were two more minor blips all duly reported to the judge and deemed sufficiently immaterial to change anything in respect of the scores. If you judge, steward, scribe, or scoreboard you are giving up your time, you are only human, and shows cannot happen without volunteers. I work Novice and A, I’ve learned a lot as a steward and would commend anyone to be brave and have a go!

In general shows look after their volunteers, but Ditton really pushed the boat out for us today. A sit-down English breakfast to set us up for the day, a goody bag for the judging tent, roast chicken and all the trimmings followed by a dessert at lunch, and tea and cake for after judging. I need hardly eat for the next week! Plus, Ashford Rugby Club seems to have a cohort of good and cheerful cooks and helpers who deliver man sized portions with a smile! There were speeches at lunch to mark Ditton’s 50th anniversary, Barry Fitter’s retirement as a Ticket judge, and Linda Baldock’s first appearance as the same. All in all, it was quite a celebration, topped off in the afternoon by a fly past from the Red Arrows. Very fitting I thought.

As mentioned, this was Linda Baldock’s first ticket judging appointment and I must highlight the work that went in. The round was designed well in advance, laminated, and given to me to learn. On Saturday, armed with a can of white spray paint operated by Linda’s long-suffering husband, Nigel, we walked and walked and walked the round marking the ground for reference as we went. Maddie, our scribe, her equally long-suffering husband, Dave, and Nigel “worked” it so I could see the turns in action, and then Maddie’s dog was pressed into service, at the end of a long hot day, to work the round so we could get approximate timings. It really was an operation of military proportions. Finally, just to reinforce the thought and effort, the send-away markers flanked by angels were made by Nigel. The back markers represented Linda’s past working dogs – Jedi, Jessie, and Jay Jay now, sadly, over the Rainbow Bridge, and the front markers each represented a pet dog now, also, sadly no more. How poignant is that in terms of a story attaching to the ring? I was very impressed.

So, all in all, a really lovely, enjoyable weekend. Thank you, Ditton, for all the hard work. Here’s to the next 50 years!

Katrina Arnold

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