What can I say about DogFest after my first ever visit? Fabulous, incredible, wonderful and wow! hardly seem adequate. If I had to decide on going to just one show per year, this would be it, especially if the sun shines. Why? Well, it’s big and beautiful, in a huge great field in the grounds of Knebworth House, with plenty of space to never feel overwhelmed by the crowds.
On Day 1, Saturday, we arrived really early so we could unload Mum’s scooter before Kirsty Grimshaw, our photographer arrived. I also needed to get used to seeing and hearing the queuing crowd as I find these big vents a little daunting at first. As you can see from the video, we were right to wait a while before going in.
When Kirsty arrived, we made our way into the grounds, ready and prepared for a what we knew would be a fantastic day. The show ground is organised in such a way that you can see absolutely everything. There were loads of retail stands, and quite a few charities offering information and seeking loyal donors. Oh yes, and there were plenty of food outlets for hungry humans.
DogFest is for and about dogs, and there were hundreds of them there! Our photographer Kirsty is a great dog hunter, and when we lost her, she could always be found taking pictures or talking to dogs. We found big and small pooches, young and old, frisky little pups, and some who needed a lift in their stroller. Take a look at the picture gallery at the end of my report, and let us know if you find yourself there. The same pictures are also on our Face Book page, royalty free so that you can share if you wish. We just ask that you add credits as follows: “Photograph: The Daxington Post.”
From the map below you will see that for visiting dogs, there were activities aplenty to excite and entice them, and perhaps to tire them out too! Of course, I was there to do a job, so did not dabble in the have-a-go opportunities. Hay Bale racing looked fun, but being a dachshund, I didn’t even try scaling the heights! I guess I could have tried the obedience challenge, and would have done very well, but I’m more of a ‘lead me to Temptation Alley” man! I would have failed that test miserably by scoffing all those gorgeous foodie goodies before I even started the course! I liked seeing the have-a-go flyball, agility, and dog diving, and rather fancied lounging around in Fido’s Lido. Should have packed my trunks! Certainly, there was no need for any dog to be bored.
I really wanted to do the long walk with Professor Noel, but as Mum’s scooter has limited battery life, and we did not bring the charger, we gave it a miss. I am sure it was great fun for every dog who joined in.
As I went around, I pursued The Daxington Post’s tradition of seeking out charities and health and welfare organisations to learn about their work and to pick up a few tips. I am sure I saw some we had not come across before.
Among the first was The Canine First Aid Company Ltd, https://thecaninefirstaidco.uk who organise First Aid courses around the country. We are keen to work with them in advertising their events. This would give our humans the opportunity to learn about what to do in emergency situations. We watched as they taught visitors doggy CPR, and every time we passed their stand, it was crowded. Since coming home we have communicated with them, and hope to make some firm arrangements in the near future.
Many people are perhaps more familiar with the wonderful Blue Cross.
https://www.bluecross.org.uk. As well as providing an excellent rehoming service, they offer advice on all kinds of pets. I was especially interested to learn about their Pet Bereavement Service, because when we leave our humans for doggy heaven, we want to know that they will be helped to cope. Mum remembers when Josef died, and how much she needed to talk about him. Fortunately she had good friends willing to listen and see her through it all, but some people might prefer to talk to a stranger. For them, and for socially isolated people, the Blue Cross is there to help. It is good to know that they have special literature and help for children for whom it must be especially hard to lose their best fur friend. It is admirable that the Blue Cross care as much for our humans as for us.
Now to something I fear! Vets! Mine took something very precious away from me a while ago, and so you can understand my worry when I saw a sign for “FirstVet”. Plunging my foot onto the scooter's brake pedal was pointless as Mum sallied forth to introduce me to the beautiful Jessica May, who represented FirstVet on the stand. Very quickly I buckled under her kindly gaze, as she invited me to get onto the scales. Whoopee! Having been extremely rotund when I was adopted 9 months ago. I was put on a strict diet but at DogFest found I have now lost 4kg of my 5 kg. target. Jessica looked into my hypnotic eyes (I swear she was transfixed), felt my well honed body, then gazed into my smiling mouth, and commented on my sparkling teeth. After this free health check I realised I was a fine specimen of a dog, and Jessica was not to be feared if I see her again. That's her in the picture.
The question is, why do we need to know about FirstVet? Well, Jessica and her team are digital vets, on call 24 hours a day to offer video consultations if you are worried about your pet, wherever and whenever you need it. Jessica explained that they are not seeking to replace our existing vets, but are on call if we need them for a bit of advice. Check out their website:
I think there can be few people in Britain’s dog community who have not heard of DogLost, a free service that aims to reunite dogs with their hunans if they are either lost, stolen or found. We subscribe to their notification system and share their posters online to ask the public to keep an eye out for these little lost souls. In many cases it helps to reduce the length of time they are parted from each other. This is a great organisation, and the joy and relief when humans and dogs are reunited is inestimable. We feel lost without our owners and they get worried sick about us if we go missing. We are delighted that DogLost are keen to work with The Daxington Post, and guess what? Our local contact lives just a short drive away! For more information about this organisation click
As many readers will know, the whole HQ team love to go walking with other Dachshunds. OK you can walk on your own, but it’s not as much fun as our ‘sausage strolls’ with the Lincolnshire Dachshund Group. Generally during our walks we find an area where the participants can romp around together and have loads of fun. Of course, it’s not just an enjoyable thing to do, but the exercise also contributes to our overall health and welfare, which I guess is true of our humans too.
Photograph: David Dolling, Lincolnshire Dachshund Group
At DogFest I was delighted to meet members of the East Hants Dachshund Group and hear about their exciting activities. A fun and friendly group, they arrange monthly walks, and lots of other group activities and events. This is brilliant, and certainly inspired us. If you don’t have a dachshund walk in your area, why not start one? I’m sure East Hants would give you some pointers. Pop over to their Face Book page, to learn more about this exciting group.
Amid all this learning, I needed to get some shopping done, and called on my friends at Natural Instinct, www.naturalinstinct.com
who very generously support this newspaper, and love that we raise funds for Dachshund Rescue https://dachshundrescue.org.uk
The beautiful Emma, who is the source of all good things there, asked me if I would like a bully stick. Would I ??? Oh yes, Ma’am I most certainly would! Thanks Emma! I think you and I must have a special blonde bond!
Photograph: Natural Instinct
Next I wanted to go and see my friend Lee at Mountain Dog. https://www.mountaindog.co.uk He was very kind to me at The National Pet Show, when he found a coat that fitted my odd body. He knew I was quite frightened of men, but was very considerate and gentle in helping me find the right garment, and from then on, we were buddies and I am still so proud to wear my rain coat. At DogFest he asked if we would be happy to accept some end of line coats to raise funds for the important work of Dachshund Rescue. Of course, we said yes please, and within a couple of days some lovely warm coats for tiny dogs arrived. Need a coat, for a small dog? Then contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you so much Lee and Mountain Dog. We value our friendship and look forward to seeing you again at The National Pet Show.
I have reserved the remainder of this article for something very special. It was my visit to the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, aka PDSA, who care for all animals, not just dogs. https://www.pdsa.org.uk.
This amazing organisation works UK wide, to “provide low cost and free veterinary care to the sick and injured pets of people in need and promotes responsible pet ownership”. But that is not their only function, as they also provide guidance on animal care. For instance in their website's dog section they address behavioural issues, welfare needs, and so much more. UK readers may have seen their warnings about leaving dogs in hot cars in summer, canine illnesses, safety issues etc.
This highly regarded charity is also famous for awarding the much prized gold medal for dogs, which is widely regarded as the canine George Medal. And that brings me to the absolute highlight of my DogFest visit. Of course, I refer to my meeting with PC Dave Wardell and his heroic dog, Finn, who saved his life with no regard for his own during a stabbing incident while on duty. Finn recovered and couldn’t wait to get back to work, and both he and Dave have gone on to secure a change in the law to give greater legal protection to service animals. In a previous article I have reported on our meeting, so will not duplicate it here. Suffice to say, we honour both Finn and Dave for their bravery, and this newspaper remains committed to supporting them and their new campaign to seek longer prison sentences for humans harming and abusing the ‘ordinary dog on the street’. You can follow Finn on his ‘Fabulous Finn’ FaceBook page and his website
On Sunday I had to return home, which made me rather sad, because I’d had a great time. Do I wish I could go to every DogFest this year? Oh yes! Sadly, I cannot, but you can! Tickets are still available for the remaining shows.
Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire
Sat 15th + Sun 16th June 2019
Ashton Court, Bristol
Sat 22nd + Sun 23rd June 2019
Click for more details
To Team DogFest South, thanks for having us! We plan to be there again next year, so please reserve our tickets!
15th May 2019
And now for that gallery I promised you. Click on each picture to enlarge.