Sunday, which oddly seems to be the way this summer, was gloriously sunny as we headed down towards the coast, to join Margaret Green Animal Rescue (MGAR) for their annual Country Dog Show. Not just a fun day out – the BV was sponsoring two classes, and we had been invited to present the prizes.
Never ones to turn down a schmooze with some random dogs, we of course jumped at the chance.
The Dog Show was wonderful – it’s not often you see so many dogs in one place, all being pampered with paddling pool cool downs, owners had come equipped with large umbrellas to provide them with shade, treats were on hand, and no one minded when their feet were wrapped, once again, in someone’s lead as their dog took off stage left.
We were there to judge the ‘Best Rescue’ classes, but as we arrived the police dogs were beginning their demonstration – and it was fascinating. I lost my heart to TPD (Trainee Police Dog – yes, they do get official titles) Goose; only 18 months old and just four weeks into her 13 week training programme, she was so excited to be there and keen to show off her tracking skills. The handlers were quick to explain that they’re not a show team – these dogs work for a living.
Goose was replaced by R(retired)PD Blaize, who even after two years of retirement snapped to the job and showed an older boy never loses the skill.
A quick saunter around the stands as we waited for the ‘Best Condition’ dogs classes to compete, and then we were up. I’ll be honest – my heart sank a little as I watched almost 20 beautiful dogs of literally every shape and size (one was smaller than my cat, others were comfortably looking me in the eye when I crouched to say hello) filed past me and took up their stations around the ring. How were we supposed to judge this?
I was happy to simply walk around with the judge and an experienced member of the MGAR team, listening to each dog’s story. A squat little bulldog had been left at the rescue centre because he suffered terrible allergies and nobody wanted to deal with them. We became swift besties.
A young Welsh sheepdog had been abandoned when it turned out he was too lazy to herd sheep – only when they got him home did they discover the horrific worm infestation: “it was something out of Alien, they were being ejected from both ends!” his owner said.
A black labrador had been locked in a back yard, with just a small porch for shelter. Emaciated and weak, he had survived on the odd bit of raw food scraps tossed at him occasionally – instead of resenting humans, his owner now takes him to local old people’s homes as a companion dog to the elderly.
One owner was close to tears as she explained her husband had a stroke, and had been struggling with depression following his decereased mobility; they had gone to the rescue centre to perhaps find a small dog to be a companion for him. However they were instantly picked by a large mixed-breed black dog who planted himself at her husband’s feet and refused to move. They obviously brought him home, where he has transformed their lives.
Some had been rescued right there at MGAR, but many were from further afield. One shy young owner told how he had saved his pocket money for three years to buy himself a dog (Mum pulled the classic “if you want one, you pay for it yourself”. So he did!). His best friend for the last year has been a pug who had been left in a Chinese pet shop window until he was rescued by a local charity and brought to the UK. He was the only dog in the ring with a Chinese passport! Though there were rescues from Spain and Cyprus, too.
Over in the girls ring, Courtenay spoke to a couple who were on holiday when they found themselves adopted by one of the local street strays. She refused to leave them, sleeping on their doorstep every night, and by the end of the holiday they had determined to bring her home with them – they worked out how they could do so, and he’s been with them ever since.
Every single dog deserved a rosette, and every single owner deserved an award for having the time, patience and care to take on the unwanted dogs and give them a second chance.
We had such a wonderful afternoon with Margaret Green Animal Rescue and ALL the dogs. Make a note not to miss next year’s, you won’t be disappointed.