When loads of boxes, overnight bags, and Daxington Post and Dachshund Rescue equipment are loaded into our chariot, we know we are bound for a job somewhere. Normally our working trips are much shorter than the 2+ hours it took us to get to the Essex Country and Craft Show incorporating the Festival of Dogs. After having a quick look around the event we went to find our 'home' for the night. Our sat nav was not helpful, as it said our hotel was actually the Queen Elizabeth Bridge, aka The Dartford Crossing! Were we to sleep in the gutter we wondered.
Well, we obeyed every command Sat Tim gave us, but always seemed miles away from the hotel. Over the Bridge we went, and back through the Dartford Tunnel, only to find ourselves once more driving across the bridge! At £2.50 each way this was not funny, but after £10's worth of crossing the River Thames, we asked a man for directions and eventrually reached the hotel, which was right next to the Bridge. Now we understood why Sat Tim was so confused. Poor thing. But the view from our window was rather good
INow we always stay in pretty good places, so entering an Ibis Hotel was a bit of a culture shock! The brand clearly targets young clients, and we wondered what we three old girls were walking into! It was so modern, and seemed almost like an alien world to us. Our room was OK but what Mum liked best was the shower.... as good as a massage she reckoned!
We were welcomed into the bar area to eat, and thought it looked bright and colourful, with upholstery that perfectly matched my lovely orange collar and lead.
After a good night's sleep, we were out of there by 8 a.m. Carefully avoiding the Bridge, we soon arrived at the Weald Country Park where the show, incorporating the Festival of Dogs, was taking place,. So this is why we had come all this way! And what's this? We are judging a dog show?
Very soon Mum was like a whirling dervish emptying the car and finding a place to stand our A Frame. Alarmingly, she next wielded a sledge hammer to knock stakes into the ground to hold our banners! Thank goodness Sean and Tamar Aldridge arrived just in time to stop Mum killing someone! Soon our gazebo sported the Daxington Post banner, as well as the one from Natural Instinct who always provide great goody bags to give out at such events. By now we were ready for the show to start and were quite excited as we waited for the first dogs to arrive at the judging ring.
We were delighted when the very enthuiastic Sam White arrived to complete our show team! Sadly, the crowds were not as eager to get going as we were. It was cold and windy and the weather forecasters predicted heavy rain showers all day, so we were not too surprised that we had a rather slow start. We didn't need to worry as dogs and humans soon started arriving. Mum judged the first two classes before handing over to Tamar and Sam to give them their first ever judging experience. They did a wonderful job, so Mum was happy to let them develop their skills while herself taking on the role of mentor and show referee. As you can see from our photo of Tamar on judging duty, both of the younger ladies were able to get down to the dogs' levels to chat with them before making their choices.
'The Girls' as Mum called them, did a great job, sharing judging and stewarding duties, and meeting so many lovely dog of all shapes and sizes. With 20 classes to get through, they had their hands full and Mum was secretly a little envious of them making friends with so many incredible dogs.
Because the weather was so windy, we decided to bring forward the Best in Show line up, which was a very shrewd move on our part. The prizes having been awarded to our top dogs, a sudden violent gust of wind swept through the park, and we were shocked to see some very heavy, large gazebos take flight as the wind spun around and right through them. Although they were well staked into the ground, up the gazebos went, like balloons in the sky. We were glad to be on a slightly lower level because it really was scary. Of course, with gazebos flying about, it was no longer safe for visitors to be wandering around the show which was immeditialy closed.
The lovely young people, Sam, Tamar and Sean, our new Essex Dog Show judging team, were wonderful! They packed Mum's car, to save her lifting stuff, said they had thoroughly enjoyed their day and wanted to do it again. Oh yes, you can my friends! You were great and we can see a bright future for you in fun dog show judging.
It had been a good day. While not everyone could be Best in Show, we all know that every owner took the best dog home!
In comparison to the rest of our team, we'd had a fairly relaxed day on guarding and supervising duty, ensuring all the dogs and owners behaved themselves. None the less, we were tired as we rolled up our banners and prepared to wend our way home.
Of course, having to be alert for a whole day's show is extremely dehydrating, so en route for the exit, we stopped by the ice cream van and bought a cornet. It was lovely and we generously shared it with Mum, then slept all the way home...... except Mum of course!!
Emma and Dolly Teckel
HQ Editorial Tam
21st September 2017