Here are some of the previous articles in the Dog
Thursday 7th September - Update on
the Channel 4 show, Britain's Top Dog
Mike Clark, whose dog Jess and wife
Sally won the competition, has sent his comments on the post "At last,
agility on TV." We're delighted to hear from the winners and
the comments have
been added below.
Monday 4th September - A funny thing
happened on the way to the start line
We approached the start line all fired up and ready
to go and the scrimer said,
"When you're ready Pat." I glanced up to check that the judge was
ready, which is always a good thing to do, and there she was with her
back to me. Ahem. We're about to go so what's the hold up?
Then as the judge turned round I spotted the reason for the delay. On
the far side of the ring, a couple were strolling along without a care
in the world and they clearly didn't realise there was a competition
going on and that they were holding it up.
"I think we'd better wait for these people to get out of the ring," said
So we all stood patiently watching the couple as they made their way
towards the rope on the far side. Then the pantomime began.
The lady was wearing a long skirt and she had decided that the best way
to get over the obstruction was to climb over the top of the rope.
Meanwhile the gentleman had decided that in order to help his lady
friend he must remove the corner post of the ring and so he lifted the
whole thing up, rope and all. I suppose it was just unfortunate
that he chose to do so just as the lady had one leg over the rope and
well....you can guess the rest. The lady's skirt went up in the
air and it was watched by all the people who'd been hoping to see
At last the pantomime came to an end, the couple climbed out of the ring
and we were able to start. The funny thing was that during the
whole performance the couple never once seemed to realised that they
were in a dog agility ring during a competition and that dozens of
people were watching them. Oh well, it takes all sorts. We
came seventh in the class and then went on to get fifth in the agility
so we were well pleased with the day.
Tuesday 29th August - Stinking out the
It's August bank holiday and I haven't been able
persuade Bernie to go to the show at Buckland Philleigh.
Jamie got stung by a hornet last time and had to go straight home, so
decided we'll all have nice afternoon out at Pencarrow House. He
should know better than to try and take Jamie into polite company but
who am I to argue?
It started soon after we entered the gardens
and Jamie found some mud. The paths are
very narrow and I had to keep putting myself between a muddy dog and the
smartly dressed visitors who always seem to wear white or cream
By the time we'd made it to the lake I was now the muddy one and Jamie
was soaking wet all over. I'm not sure where he picked up the
seeds that were clinging to his coat. I don't even know what they
were but when we sat down on a bench I discovered that he was covered in
them. I tried to pull some of them out but it was hopeless.
They were firmly lodged and they wouldn't budge.
At last we reached the field next to the house and I
let Jamie off the lead to have a bit of a run. He gambolled playfully
across the field and threw himself down on the grass for a roll....and he
rolled and he rolled and he rolled.....right in the biggest dollop of
cow pooh he could find.
The only thing for it was to go back to the lake with
our wet and smelly dog. Some of the visitors who'd avoided him
before, now realised that they must keep an even bigger distance as the hairy
monster emerged from the water and shook himself all over us. He
was still stinking. It's a wonder he wasn't sprouting, what with
the combination of mud, seeds water and cow pooh. If we hadn't
been gasping for a cup of tea we'd have shoved him in the car and taken
him straight home.
Bernie did the honours with a tray of tea and
cakes and a Bonio and we scoffed the lot as quickly as we could.
In just a few minutes we'd be able to take our disgusting animal away
from the home of the aristocracy and back to where he belonged in his
more modest surroundings.... and then we spotted Lady Molesworth St
She was bearing down on the tea gardens waving and
smiling and saying "Good afternoon" to the visitors. Then she
spotted Jamie and that did it. She wasn't wearing any glasses and
she positively beamed at him,
"Oh good afternoon." She approached our
table as if she was going to give Jamie a cuddle and I shrieked.
"He's covered in cow dung." At this point Jamie
decided that something must be wrong and he leapt up and started barking
furiously at Lady Molesworth St Aubyn. By now we had the attention
of everyone in the tea gardens. They watched with interest as the
lady took several steps backwards and then made a dignified exit.
We could still feel the eyes of all the visitors watching as we made a
rather more hurried exit in the
They say that tomato ketchup gets rid of the smell of
cow dung. Unfortunately we didn't have any but I can tell you now
that talcum powder and a good brush doesn't work. The house
Pencarrow House is near Wadebridge in Cornwall and it's well worth a
Tuesday 15th August - Scaring Ernie
Last night I saw a little Jack Russell on TV that
looked exactly like a dog that used to
live up the road. It reminded me of a very funny thing that happened a few
Ernie was lovely little dog and he was very well cared for, but
unfortunately he had an inclination to wander. It started when
he took a shine to a family who lived down the lane. No
sooner had he returned from a walk than he was off on his own to visit
his new friends and to ramble around the countryside. His owners
couldn't understand it. They fed him well and walked him
daily but whatever they did he just wouldn't stay at home. In the
end it was me who cured him and it was entirely accidental.
I'd gone down to the vegetable garden to tend the runner beans.
(This was in the days before it was an agility course.) I hadn't
been there long when I spotted Ernie trotting down the path with a merry
little swagger and a very purposeful look on his face. I didn't
bother to stand up from behind the rows of beans, I just called out,
"Ernie. Go home."
Ernie stopped in his tracks and looked around. I had a job not to
giggle at his puzzled little face. He knew the voice had come from
somewhere and the voice was talking to him but who on earth was
speaking? He obviously couldn't see me. He took a few
tentative steps forward and as he did so I said again,
"Ernie. GO HOME."
Ernie stood stock still and stared all around him. He even looked
up at the sky and then all of a sudden it dawned on him.
"It's the voice of God"
He didn't wait to find out if he was right. He turned and fled and
and I collapsed in fits of laughter as he took off up
the lane. A short while later I returned home laden with runner
beans and new potatoes and Bernie was there to greet me.
"Here," he said, "I don't know what happened to Ernie but I saw him him
going up the road hell for leather and he looked scared stiff."
It was a few days after this that I met Ernie's owners and they were
delighted to tell me that he had stopped going on his travels.
"It's a funny thing," they said, "he came in the other day looking really
scared and he hasn't wandered off since."
I just had to tell them what had happened and I'm afraid we all had a
good laugh behind Ernie's back. it did the trick though.
Monday 31st July - At Last, agility
I don't know if any
of you have seen it but I'm delighted that Channel Four is giving some
air time to agility. The programme is called Britain's Top dog and
it features agility, heelwork to music and scent work. The
handlers and dogs that are are competing are given just six weeks to
train for these three disciplines from absolute scratch and most of them
are doing really well. Jo Fraser is teaching the agility but I'm
sure she didn't show one of this week's handlers the rather novel way of
learning the A-Frame. The dog was a sheltie and the handler
persuaded his girlfriend to climb up one side of the A-Frame and waggle
a toy over the top of it. I notice the handler stayed firmly on
the ground...funny that!
This week I was very impressed with a mad jack russell. As the dog
flew round the agility ring Jo Fraser shouted "That's a championship
dog." The handler was thrilled to bits and I hope she doesn't just
leave it at that.
In fact it will be interesting to see if any of these handlers go on to
compete in agility. Some are very taken with the heelwork to music
or doggie dancing as they call it on the programme. You can almost
see the stars in the making.
Hopefully programmes like this will raise the profile of agility and who
knows, perhaps one day we can persuade Channel Four to televise the
Britain's Top Dog is on Channel Four on Sunday at 17:45 to 18:45.
(Video it if you're at a show, it's well worth it.)
I love the programme it's so great. I loved the one on last week- really
wanted the labby x collie to win (not being biased) AND absolutely loved
the JR he would be such a FAB agility dog!!!
(and yeah loved the method of teaching the aframe!! LOL)
overall winner of this competition was Sally Clark with Jess. Mike
Britain's Top Dog Channel 4
Hi, I just read your blog about Britain's Top Dog show and would like to
thank you for lending your support. Over the past few weeks I have read
countless threads on websites with nothing but negative things to say
about the programme. The people involved seemed to be the breeders and
competition types who haven't seemed to grasp that all the dogs taking
part were novice pet dogs. My wife and I worked very hard to train
Jessie and are very proud to have won. Sally has always aspired to work
with dogs and if it wasn't for a few medical issues she'd ideally be a
police dog handler. We hope to keep up the agility work and still play
little scent games with Jessie. We'll be breeding from her late this
year or early next. Once again thanks you for your support, truly a
breath of fresh air.
Pat says: Thanks Mike
and congratulations on a magnificent performance. We watched every
programme and we were truly impressed with the standard of agility
achieved by the dogs in such a short time. Clubs and websites have
noticed an increase in enquiries about agility and I think it's
wonderful that people want to get out and do things with their dogs.
They will be rewarded in bucket loads. Jo
Fraser has said on the agility forum how hard you all worked under near impossible
conditions. To quote from her posting on the forum (I hope Jo
doesn't mind) "They were all amazing. I wouldn't have attempted
to do what they all did. It was hard hard hard. Well done with Sally and
jess. They deserved the win after putting their lives on hold for the
three months of filming. "
Tuesday 11th July - The Contacts are
like the Courts at Wimbledon
Let me explain. I
was watching Wimbledon last week and I couldn't help thinking that the
judges who have to decide whether a ball has bounced in or out of the
court or on the line are really doing the same thing as agility judges
when they look at contacts. Our judges have to decide whether a
toe went on the contact or just outside and just like the tennis judges
they can't always get it right.
I was reminded of the time when I saw someone get a winning round in
starters. The dog was very fast but as it jumped off the see-saw
several people said,
"Aaaaah, what a shame."
Then I noticed that the judge's hand hadn't gone up. The error
that we had seen, had gone unseen by the judge and the dog was clear.
"That's not fair," said Bernie, "the dog's won and it jumped
off the see-saw."
"It happens," I said. "If there's any doubt about the contact
the judge will usually go in the dog's favour and obviously if they
didn't get a good view they can't give five faults."
It's swings and roundabouts. I'm sure Jamie's got away with some
dodgy contacts in the past and got himself a place and I'm equally sure
that he's been faulted when he's got a toe on the contact.
I'm just grateful that there are so many people willing to give up a
whole day to judge all those dogs going round and round a course.
Mind you, if dogs could talk there'd be some interesting debates in the
"Whaddya mean I missed the contact? I got at least three paws on
"Man you are the pits of the world. That paw was in I tell you!"
" I'm just not jumping any more. If you're going to keep sticking
your hand up I'm going home."
"Man, you cannot be serious. That toe
was on the contact.”
"You fault me on that and I'LL NEVER JUMP
IN YOUR RING AGAIN!!!!!"
Saturday 17th June - Dogs' Washing
This morning I got up
bright and early. We're going to stay with Jamie's grandma
tomorrow and I thought I'd wash his blankets. I did it all
nice and early and then I realised that the weather was too good for me
to bung the blankets in the tumble dryer. They would have to go on
the line. Now under normal circumstances I'm quite happy to put
the washing on the line. My knickers are as good as anyone else's
knickers and the whites are reasonably white, but when it comes to dogs'
washing....oh dear. I know Jamie's blankets nearly all come up
clean but there's just one that I don't like to hang out. It's
Jamie's sucking blanket.
Jamie took possession of the sucking blanket from day one and it
immediately became his comforter. He wouldn't go anywhere without
it. He carted it all over the house and when he laid down he
sucked it. In fact he still does suck it at night.
Unfortunately the blanket is now rather the worse for wear. The
pale green colour has given way to a sort of dirty muddy grey and there
are several holes in the middle. As an item of bedding it leaves
much to be desired but we can't throw it out. It has to go on the
line on washing day and now our neighbours look at us with pity.
It's even worse when the sucking blanket is joined by the dog towels.
"Oh those poor people in that house there. You should see
what they put on the line. They must be ever so poor". I
grin and bear it. So what if my washing looks like the last
knockings from a refugee camp. At least it's not as funny as the
thing I saw on someone else's line, and it was in their
I was out riding with a friend when we spotted the thing. It was
big and pink and scary and it was obviously designed to control the sort
of blubber you might find on a whale. It had fearsome looking
stays that gave away its identity as a corset and it was so big it
stretched from one end of the line to the other. We rode past
giggling and all the way up the road we kept looking back to see if we
could spot the wearer. Sadly we didn't but I couldn't help
thinking that that's the sort of washing I'd keep to myself.
Thursday 25th May - Indian Head
Massage for Dogs
actually had a very interesting day at work today.
It's Learning at Work Week and we've all been offered one hour taster
courses in various things from doing sums to reflexology. I chose
Indian head massage. I was going to do reflexology but I was going
with my friend and Bryony and she persuaded me to do the Indian thing.
"Have you washed the nits out?" she asked.
"Of course," I said "How about you?"
"Ah yes. No nits....but there might be a bit of slug goo."
(I'm coming to the dog bit in a minute.)
We all sat in a long line while our tutor expertly guided us in what we
were supposed to be doing. Bryony pummelled me first
and it was wonderful. Bits of my back and shoulders were pushed
and pulled and muscles were pinched and kneaded all over my neck and
head. My hair was rearranged in a sort of
dragged-through-a-hedge-backwards style and finally my chakras were
balanced. Then we were asked to swap over.
"Would anyone like to swap with the young man I've been massaging?" asked
"Yes please." Bryony shot across the room and flumped down in front of
Well thanks a bunch. That left me to massage a strange man who
worked in an entirely different part of the office and whom I'd never
met before. I knew I should
have gone with someone else.
After the lesson I asked the tutor if the massage techniques could be
adapted for dogs.
"Absolutely," she said.
First of all I would need to get four rose quartz crystals. These
would need to be cleansed under a tap and then placed under each corner
of Jamie's bed. I didn't tell her his bed's oval. They need
to stay there for about four weeks. Every week I must take them
out and cleanse them again and leave them on a sunny windowsill to
I must find out where a dog's chakras are located. The tutor drew
a small diagram and indicated where she thought they were likely to be.
Having found the chakras I would also need to find the right pressure
points. I could then begin to give Jamie his Indian head massage
and this would have enormous benefits. By this time I was feeling
completely spaced out and I was nodding stupidly and agreeing to
anything. Jamie was going to love this.
When at last we were all done we staggered back into the office and
smiled gormlessly at the manager.
"Love and peace man," I said.
"Far out," said Bryony.
I'd sobered up by the time I got home but I still I explained all about
the Indian head thingy to Jamie. He wasn't very keen. In
fact he gave me a sort of "You leave my chakras alone" look when I told
him about the pummelling bit.
Anyway, all I have to do now is ask in Tescos if they've got any rose
quartz and then type "dog's chakras" into Google and I'll be away.
Thursday 18th May - Talk About
I can't believe that Jamie's done it again.
He was just going nicely and winning
the odd rosette when he went and injured his
hind leg. He wasn't doing agility at the time. He was
careering round and round a tree with another dog when he somehow got
caught up in the tree roots. Jamie came off worse. The tree
wasn't hurt at all and it had no idea it's put my agility dog out of
action for several weeks.
In total, Jamie's hurt three different legs in the last year. He's
only got one leg left that's still intact. But what I want
to know is why is my dog so accident prone? I'd love it if anyone
could answer the following:
How did Jamie manage to cut his paw so badly in a big safe field?
Why was it that when Jamie raced over a bridge with another dog he was
the one that fell in the stream?
Why is he the only dog in the training class to bite his tongue and end
up with spots of blood on either side of his mouth?
Why is it that when Jamie races around a pond with his friends he's the
one that falls in the deepest part and hurts his back getting out?
Why is it that when we'd got up at an unearthly hour to travel to a show
and we saw a notice saying "Beware of the hornet's nest" we knew
immediately we were doomed? Yes, he did get stung and yes, it was
before the first class, and yes, we did have to go home.
The list could be endless but I think I know the answer to all these
questions. It's our family curse rearing it's ugly head.
It's goes something like this:
Whenever you hire a workman to do a job it doesn't matter where you go
or how much you pay, you will get Frank Spencer. Whenever you
contact any government office it doesn't matter who you want to speak to
or what the question's about, you will get Frank Spencer. The
Frank Spencer curse will follow you wherever you go and in whatever you
Unfortunately I've come to realise that Jamie is the canine equivalent
of Frank Spencer. He bumbles through life causing chaos wherever
he goes. He should work for Revenue and Customs. That's why
I've got a tie. It's good job we love him.
Saturday 13th May - Snoring
All the dogs I've had except for Jamie have snored and
barked and squeaked in their sleep. Being a lazy dog Jamie never
goes to all the trouble of dreaming about jumping and running.
When he sleeps he just sleeps. He doesn't snore at all. The latest
time at which you can reasonably disturb him in the evening is nine
o'clock. After that you don't get any response. In fact a
couple of days ago Bernie asked if he was still alive. He was of course, but he was well
away with the fairies. Not even the tiniest snore escaped.
Now here's the odd thing. Jamie doesn't snore himself but it seems
he doesn't like his beauty sleep being disturbed by other snorers.
It's just unfortunate that Bernie can snore for England. At
times it's like sleeping next to a road drill. The whole house
seems to shake. It's hardly surprising then that Jamie gets up
half a dozen times a night to stop the offending snorer. Thank goodness
we've got thick walls and the neighbours can't hear what's going on.
"Snore, snore ore ore ore ore ore ore zzZZZZ,
Pad, pad, lick, slurp.
"Snore, snore zzZZZZ, pheeeewwww."
Pad, pad, lick, slurp.
Well you get the picture. This is actually wonderful for me.
I used to get the blame every time I booted and elbowed Bernie for
snoring. Now I just leave it all to Jamie. What a horrible
owner I am letting him get the blame like that. Bernie can't
"It was bad enough enough having a wife who woke
me up, but fancy having a dog that objects to me snoring!"
Poor Jamie. Could this be why he's knackered
by nine o'clock every evening?
Tuesday 2nd May - Harry Saunders - Building
agility jumps question
I've built my basic frame for a jump with no wings, what should
for the bar and any other ideas for the cups? Also could anybody recommend a tunnel that's
Pat's suggestions: I use one and a quarter inch
waste pipe or one and a half inch pipe for the bars. You can get these at any DIY shop or
builder's merchant. Any plastic bottle can be cut and shaped to
make the jump cups. You can buy the cups, but they cost £1 each
and I'm too mean to pay that much! You can make a
flexible tunnel using plywood for the entrance and a light tarpaulin for
the chute. I made one for Jamie but we hardly ever use it.
The entrance wasn't circular, it was more of a box shape and the
tarpaulin was tacked on. I used some old bathroom carpet tacked
around the entrance to prevent injuries. Does anyone else have any
suggestions for Harry?