Fabulous weekend at North West Kent

Well, what a fabulous weekend North West Kent Dog Training Club gave us at the Aylesford Bulls Rugby Football Club. It was a delight to be back at this well laid out and spacious venue, and from the stoic gentleman on the gate to those helpers wandering round to keep things ticking over, we could not have wished for more cheerful efficiency.

The weather wasn’t really with us. Thundery, humid, and oppressive topped off with torrential downpours on Sunday, it wasn’t ideal for working some dogs and neither of mine pulled out their best. That’s my excuse and I am sticking to it!

Saturday was a busy day, with the Ticket classes active and well attended. It is always nice to watch those competitors and dream. Meanwhile back in the lower classes, which I inhabit, and despite being the offspring of two accomplished ballroom dancers, walking a straight line with even the semblance of good deportment and accuracy defeated me today, and a return to wheeling around corners cost me dearly. I was still lucky enough to be in the ribbons on both days but as my school reports so often lamented “could do better” about sums it up. In my classes, despite quite fierce competitive natures, everyone still roots for their fellow competitors and congratulates and commiserates as appropriate. On Saturday I had a poor run in Pre-Beginners, which was ably won by William Forrest and Birkcross Gem. William and I have a friendly rivalry, and it was incredibly gallant of him to concede second place to me in Beginners rather than run off for second and third. He commented that he was more than pleased with his win and felt for me in my Pre-Beginner round. It was incredibly sportsman-like and indicative of the camaraderie of our sport in general.

Today, I was delighted that Vicky Bristow and her Havanese, Thistlesweet Jasmine, achieved a first in Pre-Beginner. I worked after her and she commented “please don’t tell me Eric has beaten me”. We hadn’t. We knocked up a cricket score with my seemingly drunken walking and Eric’s desire to disassociate himself from this fumbling buffoon of a handler out for a Sunday stroll.In Special Pre-Beginners Shirley Budgen and her helpers encouraged every single competitor through, offering helpful tips for future improvement. At the grass roots of our sport these kindly comments and words of wisdom are so valuable and greatly appreciated. I am always amazed at the ability of these senior and accomplished judges to see the positives in all of us and our dogs. Despite my less than stellar handling, we got ribbons. Lovely, lovely ribbons no doubt funded by the provision of sponsorship from CSJ Specialist Canine Feeds, who provided Salmon Oil, Platinum Natural Pet Food and Care, who provided many sample packages, and Fish4Dogs who provided lovely fishy things. Don’t you just love a goody bag with samples in it? I had them all laid out on the counter at home and gloated over them as special treasures. Now, there is nothing fishy, if you will pardon the pun, about how I acquired these treasures. I did a tiny bit of helping and received a reward. I also grovelled like crazy at the Secretary’s tent.

And so, the weekend drew to a gentle close. Around us, like over energized Wombles, the helpers from North West Kent were dismantling rings and collecting all manner of things. It must have taken hours to put up, it didn’t seem to take that long to take down however I am sure the clearing up went on until late in the afternoon. I do hope they avoided the rain, which torrented down and made the drive home rather challenging. Next stop Halstead. See you there.

Katrina Arnold

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