Hello, I am Llon Llysiaur Hedydd – Alis to my friends.
On a quintessentially English summer day in early June, myself and many other friends met at Steve’s home deep in the Sussex countryside for our Club’s annual Fun Day. And what a day it turned out to be. As in previous years, we let our ‘owners’ accompany us too. It’s a day they always enjoy and by all accounts this year was no exception. It was very special for me because it was my first Fun Day. Last year I was actually at Ty Llon but was unable to participate as, along with my brothers and sisters, I was waiting to be born.
The day got off to a very civilised start, registration, bacon rolls and tea for our owners. Then before we knew it, the fun really started and we all watched with great interest as Julie gave us an extensive practical lesson on how to groom us. With much knowledge and dexterity, she demonstrated how smart we could become using just a comb and scissors in the correct manner. then went on to demonstrate the techniques and procedures of good ringcraft and just how important the job of the judge is. Some of us were then put in a ‘show’. We were moved up and down, stacked and scrutinised by the judge. Each spectator was asked to watch closely and become a judge themselves and then vote for their choice of Best in Class.
The day continued with a Handling Competition, Show Competition and games involving biscuit-catching and golf ball and spoon races. (Difficult enough normally but with someone like me on the end of the lead, almost impossible!)
After our delicious lunch, superbly crafted and presented by Catering Manager Pam and assisted by Janice, Sharon, Emma and George, we left Show Ring discipline behind and looked forward to Gundog Training with Charles, Wendy, Sandy and Ralph.
I will allow Charles to comment on this as he is Working Secretary of the Club:
“The afternoon’s activities were centred around aspects of Gundog Training. The 20 or so participants were split into three groups of roughly equal size, then each group was sent to one of three activity areas. These activity areas were designed to demonstrate different aspects of what a working spaniel needs to do and how playing with you dog in a structured way can be fun for the dog and improve discipline and responsiveness. The emphasis should always be to make these exercises fun, and for the dog to get satisfaction when he has succeeded.
After 20 minutes the groups moved round to the next activity area.
The first area showed some basic obedience and confidence-building activities (sit, recall, heel-work, simple fetch, etc.). The idea was to show a progression of activities that could be done in the garden or on walks that would increase the dog’s responsiveness to the handler and to give him confidence that the handler’s instructions were worth following. This is the foundation for a working partnership between dog and handler.
The next activity area also had the basics, but showed how these were incorporated into some of the more specialised gundog disciplines - Hunting and Retrieving and also following the handler’s direction changes (heel round obstacles, more complicated retrieving, and using the nose to find treats).
The third activity was a simple scurry - a corridor with a couple of straw-bale obstacles, and this was the only competitive aspect of the afternoon. Against the clock the dog goes over the obstacles to retrieve an article, then brings it back to the handler. This represents an essential element of spaniel work where he brings the fallen game back to the handler - quickly in case the bird is injured, tenderly so the bird is not damaged, and delivered to hand in case the bird is still capable of running off. The elements were marked out of a total of 100 and then the time in seconds deducted. Julie Revill gave a demonstration of how this could be done with a well-trained dog (scored 86), but for the ‘competitors’ Emma Green’s Jasper handled by Isabelle came first with 76, just beating Julie Woodhams with 74.
We were pleased to have three people express a real interest in taking this training forward and have signed up to be included on our trainee register, so we hope to see them at our training events in the future. “
And so a truly wonderful event drew to a close for another year. I know everyone left Ty Llon sweetly tired but with fond and happy memories of such a smoothly run, casually informative and above all, friendly FUN day. I would like to sincerely thank everyone who worked so hard for so many weeks to ensure that we all had a lovely time.
On behalf of everyone, I would like to thank Steve for his generosity in offering his home and land to enable us to enjoy our day in the Sussex countryside with our good friends and their companions.
With best wishes for the summer.
Alis x (Assisted by Boss, Howard Hills-Page)
Please note that the full unedited report will appear in our next Newsletter.