Sunday, 13 July 2008

The morning after

It's nearly five in the morning, my diet of coffee yesterday ensured that sleep was something highly unlikely. But it isn't just being unused to caffeine that's got me buzzing!
It was the first ever Cold Wet Nose show yesterday and it was ever such a big day on many levels! You spend months and months planning something and it's all over in a blink of an eye. Sounds a bit like a wedding - and in a way it was a joyful joining together of soul mates. People who all know what it is to really love a dog.
I can't edit my thoughts yet, there's just so many snapshots of moments flying around in my head that I just need to just let them tumble out.
The campsite: Our Camp Marshall's Geoff Aldwinkle and Wendy Peacock were volunteers. Geoff requested wooden tent pegs to mark out the pitches - I asked him to source some for me and let me know what I owed him - he went and made them himself!
Graham (my hubby and co-organiser) and I stayed overnight in a little hotel next to the venue as we had such a late finish and early start and we had a restless night due to the thunderstorms and torrential rain. We thought of those in tents and fretted. Then the next day we heard that someone turned up with a big caravan at 11pm at night when the storm was raging and got well and truly stuck.
Even though everyone was tucked up in bed - our trusty marshall's went off in search of someone with a 4x4. The unsuspecting white knight went out in the downpour in his pjs and rescued the situation. Several people pushed in wellies and pjs to get them free, bless them!
The weather forecast had looked iffy all week. But the lovely forum members on Dfordog changed all that.
Sundancing broke out among their members big time and as the hours ticked by the weather forecast changed and I'm sitting here writing this with a totally unexpected sun tan! How did that happen?
We had a couple of light showers, but apart from that the weather was overcast and cool. If we could have ordered perfect weather for dogs that would have been pretty much bang on!
Blog regulars will remember the story of Caroline Rich, the homeless lady who fled terrible domestic violence with just her clothes and her beloved dog Harry the Tibetan Terrier.
(We launched an appeal via the blog to help her feed Harry as she had been accepted onto a housing project but was struggling to make ends meet on the £59 a week she got from the government. Lovely Liz at Organipets stepped in and agreed to feed Harry for a year until Caroline got back on her feet.)
Anyway - Caroline and Harry were recipients of one of our Cold Wet Nose Warm Hearts Awards. But getting them from Cardiff to Guildford was to prove somewhat of an adventure.
They came by public transport - train and bus. But when they got off the bus, they got horribly lost! Caroline said she could hear the show but was just a few fields away and just couldn't find the right road on foot.
Luckily two very kind girls stopped to help her, brought her to the show and even took her back to the station again afterwards. Caroline shared her Vip passes with them as she'd come alone and they all had a lovely time!
As you probably know, the show was much less corporate than the events we'd organised in the past - we have no luxurious banks of paid workers from big charities to help us provide an infrastructure. Maverick efforts were called for and many superb people and tiny organisations stepped up to the plate and did remarkable things.
For example Karen Lawe. She volunteered to help and I threw her a massive job - co-ordinating Top Dog, 1,640 dogs being judged in 12 rings between 11am and 3pm. We did all the pre-show stuff but on the day it was her responsibility to make sure the rings ran to time, that we had a judge in every ring ready to go, that everyone who wanted to enter on the day could and that those 1,640 dogs became just ten - on time - and they were delivered into the main ring at precisely 3pm ready to become just one winner!
The revolutionary formula we use was new to her, but she picked up that ball and ran with it. All of our judges were stars, many of them volunteers themselves found through this blog - and the same was true for Karen's band of booking in helpers. Just truly wonderful people giving their time and making stuff happen.
And loads of helpful feedback, little tweaks to make it run even smoother next time. People using their eyes and ears and caring about it all just as much as we do. Wonderful. Uplifting. Inspiring.
So many golden moments.
Little Emily arriving in her pushchair and the film crew from Richard and Judy looking just totally incredulous that this little girl was a serious competitor!
What a long day it is - especially when you're only just five! She was in the car about to go home when I phoned her mum to stay there'd been a special request for little Emily and Pickle to do their routine in the main ring just one more time. But even though she was looking forward to a sleep, we were all dazzled by the rapport between this sweet little girl and her pup - unfazed by the big ring and the crowds.
A reader of this blog showed me the autograph she'd got! Little Emily, barely five, had written her's and Pickle's names so very neatly! Not just a future Dog Brain of Britain it seems...!
And we did have other starry moments, too. We'd been hoping something very ambitious was going to be pulled off.
When I met Chris Evans a few weeks ago at super vet Noel Fitzpatrick's whizzy new state of the art 10 million quid referral centre in Godalming we'd hatched an incredibly ambitious plan.
Chris would fly-in by helicopter and kidnap workaholic Noel and bring him to the show and give him one of our Cold Wet Nose Warm Hearts awards.
It was such a wonderful idea and Noel's lovely staff were all up for keeping it a secret from their shy boss and just booking him out for a couple of hours with fake appointments.
But Chris is such a busy person and I was beginning to think that this off the cuff idea might never materialise. I even got an email from Chris's PA saying - impossible - he can't be in two places at the same time. But Chris doesn't understand impossible.
While the helicopter part had to be shelved (Chris has only recently got his pilot's licence and any hint of rain makes flight a no-no), we got the call that they were both outside.
Quite a number of people had already admired a striking white American Bulldog called Coal at the show, I'd been one of them. I don't think many people had realised he had a false leg until Chris, Noel and Coal joined Peter Purves in the main ring. Coal had only the second bionic leg ever fitted after he had cancer in his front foot (Noel did the first op, too by the way!) Amputation on such a heavily built dog hadn't really ever been an option. Noel had saved Coal's life with his pioneering surgery. And even though it cost over 10 million pounds to develop the technique - it only cost the devoted owner the same as an normal hip replacement op to make Coal bionic!
Chris became understandably emotional when he told us all why Noel is just such a hero to dog lovers. He isn't just technically a genius, he's just such a fighter. He never gives up if there's a chance for a pain-free future.
The autograph hunter I mentioned earlier revealed that one of her Dobes had also recently had life-saving surgery performed by Noel. Her dog had had the same SpondyloFitz bolts inserted in his spine as Chris's dog, Enzo.
Noel treats every dog and cat as if it were his own. He is tireless. Chris explained he's often up at 3am working, has his bed at the centre, phones his worried clients at all times of the day and night.
We all got a bit tearful really - because we knew Chris's beloved Enzo is still fighting to get better. Noel and Enzo are trying so very hard. I had a word with one of Noel's lovely nurses on the day and while recovery is still slow, Enzo is still progressing and Chris is visiting every day.
I gave Chris a surprise award for being Celebrity Dog Owner of the year - for sharing with the nation his unashamed love for his dogs.
And at the Cold Wet Nose show I think we all experienced a connection at that moment. We had homeless Caroline and multi-millionaire Chris within yards of each other. Both equally rich in their love of dogs. Both knowing that the unconditional love we have with our dogs is just priceless.
I'm welling up again just remembering that impossible-to-script series of events.
Can you believe that was the first award Noel had ever won! Surely the first of many.
Noel likes to make his clients feel hugged. Hopefully yesterday we all hugged him back.
Our other starry moments included the fabulous Kate and Gin. My little boy Kieran had been counting down the days to the show. I'll never forget the moment we watched the amazing BAA agility people doing their main ring stuff when Kieran asked if the clever collie in the ring was Gin.
I told him that no that wasn't Gin, but the dog standing next to him was. His face was a picture!
Kieran, Cameron (stepbrother) and Oscar (our Beardie) all had their photos taken with the famous duo.
Lovely, sweet Kate was nervous about performing at the Cold Wet Nose Show. She'd done all that TV, all those shows up and down the country on the tour - but this was somehow much more daunting!
Kate explained that she felt she was among her peers at this show - she was performing for doggie people.
She'd invented a stunning new routine only the day before and the crowd loved it!
It was an amazing finale to a day that I could write about for hours more. But the caffeine is finally wearing off and I'm tired.
What an amazing team - thank you to everyone who worked so very hard both on staff, the volunteers, the talent, the trade stands, the people who donated smashing prizes and above all all the people and their dogs that came and shared the experience.
I'm off to bed.
Watch Richard and Judy on Channel 4 on Tuesday for the special report from the show with presenter Mike McClean and his dog Ben. The bits I saw him filming were hilarious.
I'm just remembering little Jordan beaming in the main ring pointing to the front cover of the show guide so proudly. His dog Rupert was on the front cover of both the guide and the magazine.
So many memories are popping into my head. The lady at Safedogs crash-proof dog guards was talking to a couple who wanted to rehome a Dobie at the beginning of the day and then at the end of the day found someone else looking for a home for one.
She brought us a note for Peter Purves to read out and the two couples were put together and it's a case of watch this space.
Big sigh. Must take a notepad to bed. Suspect there'll be a million more little memories popping into my head.
This blog has been a brilliant way of solving problems, though. A few weeks ago I asked for urgent help in the office to get through the pile of extra work that this show was generating. Linzi and Mina instantly volunteered and what heroes they both proved to be. And the team - both in the office and working from home, both on staff and freelancers - just all went up a gear and really did their very best. And I can't forget a big mention to husband Graham and colleague Craig. They did all the logistics side of it - and sometimes Graham jokes that I get all the fun bits and that they don't get the praise - but they did a great job.
A big thank you to everyone who came or just wished us well.
Are we ready to do it all again... ? Give us a couple of days to think about it!
Did you go? Please email me any feedback you have about how we could have done things better. You can't be everywhere, can't see everything. For example I think the AA signage was rubbish! I think they assumed we were a village fete. It was fine if you were coming from Godalming and already knew where to go - so I have to say they'll be getting a rocket on Monday.
Apart from sign problems, we'd would love to know your three favourite things and the least favs, too!
Off to bed really... before everyone else wakes up. Goodnight/morning!


Nicki said...

Thank you for a wonderful day we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Leanne Hurren said...

sounds absolutely fantastic - so disappointed that we didn't make it. Looking forward to next year

Becca said...

I came all the way down from Bedford and had a great time :D
I agree that the signage was rubbish and I ended up in the porters lodge as did someone behind me but there was a friendly man who gave directions.
Thank you once again.

Julie Hill said...

It was a brilliant day out - and we travelled down from Shropshire! The thing about the day was that we had a great time and so did our dogs. There was so much to see, with really interesting activities in the main ring too.
The opportunities to "have a go" at games and dog sports were fantastic. Buddy and I have had two Heelwork to Music lessons - and we found ourselves in with Gina Graham getting advice on moves we are finding difficult. Brilliant!
We were using a GPS to get there, but we didn't see any signs until we arrived. Following the GPS, we turned off down a lane that got narrower and leafier. Finally arrived at two signs announcing, "This is not the way to Losely Park. It is located on the B3000. Your Sat Nav is wrong." Maybe a map on the website next time?
Hope there is a next time though as it was highly enjoyable for us all. The dogs came home with so many goodies, and having sampled so many tasty treats. Still demanded to be fed though!

alfmcmalf said...


You dog heroes all of you. I don't do Richard and Judy - but for you I will make an exception.

Now I think it must be "have a break" time for you- which is richly deserved. It is fantastic that you have created an event where the truly deserving ones get the rosettes. How refreshing is that?

Angie said...

Having paid out nearly £30 for a family ticket and then to be asked for £2 parking and then for a further £3 for every event we were to enter with our dog, seemed a little excesive!! Perhaps a family ticket could have included a free pass to one or more of the events and maybe even FREE parking?

Angie said...

Having paid nearly £30 for a family ticket, to then be charged £2 for parking and then a further £3 for each event we might wish to enter our dog into seemed a little excessive.
Perhaps in future a family ticket could include free parking and free entry into one or two events !
The food was reasonably priced (for an event) and good quality, the displays were informative, toilets were clean and we enjoyed meeting the other dogs and their owners. Apart from the drizzle we had a nice day but it was a little expensive. (Families do not have a great deal of cash to spare and I felt the organizers were taking the mickey a little as everywhere we turned, they were asking us for money.)

Sam said...

I have to agree with Angie on the money side of things, having a limited budget made it harder to enjoy everything. We did have a lovely day tho, we came all the way from Peterborough (over 3 hours each way!)We where very pleased as Maisie won her heat of waggiest tail and came 4th in the final :-D The dogs had a great day too, we didn't hear a peep out of Salem all the way home and he is usually the noisiest dog in the car! Overall a great day but i don't think we will be able to afford to come again next year

Indie's Mum said...

It was a fantastic day, full of doggy fun!
Indie got through to the top Dog finals by winning shining example, and I was delighted with her, not least beacause a few months ago she would have been barking at the judges (nervousness) rather then befriending them! All the judges we met did a great job and were so friendly - as were the Top Dog stewards that we met.

If anything, there was too much to do (not complaining)!! I missed quite a lot of the main arena events as we were so busy round the outside - I must just learn to plan my day better (though we did end up spending more time in Top Dog events then we'd expected!!)
I hadn't realised about Noel Fitzpatrick's award till reading your blog and am so pleased. I only know of him by reputation, but from what I've heard about his work and compassion for his clients, he thoroughly deserves the award.

Thank you to everyone involved in making it a great day and please do it all again next year :0)

Anonymous said...

I didn't find anything that cost £3! The jumping into the pool was expensive - think it was £10 but you could go as many times as you liked - I didn't bother - it was free to watch and that was fun. Dancing masterclasses, Halti training, Clicker training, Have a go agility, lookylikeies, kids training classes, the talent comp were all free. Some things cost a token but you got a prize or a rosette every time. Think Tellington Touch asked for a donation. If I'd wanted to see Kate & Gin on the X factor roadshow I'd have paid about £40 plus per ticket and been miles away. Compared to taking the kids to Legoland this was a very economical family day out - plus you can't take the dog to Legoland!

Anonymous said...

This was a totally brilliant day out. I went there with my family and beloved Monty (PMD)and what fun we had. The entrance fee was very fairly priced at £28 (last week we all went to Legoland and it cost me £200 including food and treats!!!!) Monty had so much fun in the Top Dog rings but chicken out on DockDogs. I really hope there is going to be a second one!!! LETS HOPE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE. WELL DONE TO THE PEOPLE WHO PUT THIS ON! Dogs need friends like you.

Heather said...

£23 for a family of four to see a 90 minute film in Guildford or £25.00 (I pre booked online) to be entertained all day by live shows (there was so much to see) AND watch the fantastic Kate and Gin perform... RESULT! I know how I would rather spend my hard earned cash. Its days like yesterday that makes working all week worthwhile... Roll on next year.

bugs said...

I was so disappointed not to be able to make it, but did do a sundance for the event. Those Dfor doggers that did go, posted pics for us, and it looks like a great time was had by all. Well done to all that organised, and ran it.

Anonymous said...

I am so upset that i could not make it was sooo looking forward to it, then was put off by weather report and the fact of traveling up by myself (not a lot of info on the site about transport to you and was worrid about getting lost), can't wait till next years.
Emma and Opal

Penkitty said...

So pleased everything went well, wish I could have been there. Maybe next year.

Chapstaff said...

Congratulations Beverley, Craig & everyone, especially Karen Lawe (Crazy Diamond on D for Dog)who always gives so much of her time to others.

It sounds like it was a fantastic day out & I was so sorry to miss it.

I'm looking forward to next year already.

Thank you Beverley for organising such an amazing show.

I hope you raised lots of money for charities

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nell said...

What a great day! I travelled from Derbyshire with my two veteran dogs mainly for the BAA agility - setting off at 4am & getting home at 11!

Was it worth it? Oh definately YES.

My old girl, Dax had a go at the 60 weave challenge (having last weaved about 3 years ago) & ended up in the finals in the big ring - where she finally thought she'd had enough & would miss out the last two weaves!

The agility was, I think the very last to finish & was the end of a great day for us with a 1st for Dax & 4th place for my other oldie, Loki in the very last veteran jumping competition.

Thanks to all for making this all such a good day & thanks to the gods for smiling & shining on the good dogglies & friendly generous like minded people!

Nell said...

What a great day! I travelled from Derbyshire with my two veteran dogs mainly for the BAA agility setting off at 4am & getting home at 11!

Was it worth it? Oh definately YES.

My old girl, Dax had a go at the 60 weave challenge (having last weaved about 3 years ago) & ended up in the finals in the big ring - where she finally thought she'd had enough & would miss out the last two weaves!

The agility was, I think the very last to finish & was the end of a great day for us with a 1st for Dax & 4th place for my other oldie, Loki in the very last veteran jumping competition.

Thanks to all for making this all such a good day & thanks to the gods for smiling & shining on the good dogglies & friendly generous like minded people!

Nell said...

What a great day! I travelled from Derbyshire with my two veteran dogs mainly for the BAA agility setting off at 4am & getting home at 11!

Was it worth it? Oh definately YES.

My old girl, Dax had a go at the 60 weave challenge (having last weaved about 3 years ago) & ended up in the finals in the big ring - where she finally thought she'd had enough & would miss out the last two weaves!

The agility was, I think the very last to finish & was the end of a great day for us with a 1st for Dax & 4th place for my other oldie, Loki in the very last veteran jumping competition.

Thanks to all for making this all such 7& good day & thanks to the gods for smiling & shining on the good dogglies & friendly generous like minded people!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Beverley for a wonderful show - a little disapointed that so many people left their poo bags behind but a big cingratulations to those that took them home!
I would like to give a very special thanks to the vets on site as when Jed became ill on Saturday night they were very helpful - his bloating settled whilst I sobered up ( I won't drive on a glass of wine )and we did not have to go to the emergency vets.
So a very special thanks to all of you for all your efforts!

Mutthouse - DforDog xx

Lucy King said...

Great day out here. Thought signage around the show needed tweaks as we waited in queue for Dock dogs and kong stuff only to find you needed tickets. Chloe wouldnt go off the dock so thought a tenner was excessive as we didnt even get her to go swimming so wont bother with that again!

Only other annoyance was we bought one ticket on the way in but were given no proof that we had, so had to explain to security every single time we went to car.

chloe got a fifth in her BAA veteran class, but I pulled out of quite a few events, purely because there was a lot of waiting around, but thats my own fault.

Otherwise thought it was a fab day, weather was good, met some new business contacts plus some to avoid like the plague!

Lots of lovely dogs and people - Emily was brilliant - I was in a top dog class but could still watch some of it, and i have some lovely pics taken by my long suffering partner.

Thanks all!

Christine Rivers said...

What a fantastic day out. There was so much going on and so much to see. Dilly, our Border Collie took part in quite a few activities and managed to win a couple of rosettes and prizes too. We loved meeting fellow dog lovers and taking in the superb atmosphere. When we arrived, Dilly had her photo taken by a journalist who also wrote down a few details, so I'll keep my fingers crossed that she's in the next Dogs Today issue. I enjoyed watching the displays and Dilly was just as entertained. The highlight of the day was meeting Kate and Gin and having our photo's taken with them. Kate was very friendly and natural and I wish her all the best for the future. Gin was truly amazing-you could see she loved performing. Watching them brought a lump to my throat,it was an incredible routine.

I can't think of any problems or
suggestions for improvement other than the signage. This was the first dog show I had been to with the family and we stayed from start to finish. A truly memorable day!

Anonymous said...

I was really looking forward to it & have been for weeks, I agree, even though we live very locally i never saw a single sign for the dog show until we actually got to the gate.
There were not enough places to sit down at tables to eat - which is hard when you've got a child in a pram & a dog trying to eat child's hotdog ( and succeeding!)
We ended up with more tickets than we needed at the gate!
On another point, i thought it was a family show, not a KCC show leading up to crufts, so it's disappointing when paying for a dog class to be told '' you don't stand a chance, but there you go'' - needless to say we went on to get a 3rd place.
We were absolutely chuffed to see Kate & Gin & we were allowed to stroke him, was wonderful.
Really enjoyed the day & met some really nice people - am looking forward to it next year!

Anonymous said...

We travelled from Herefordshire and thoroughly enjoyed the day. The atmosphere was terrific. Just loads of happy people enjoying themselves with their dogs. Having previously attended the Wag & Bone Show, I have to say this venue was far better. A beautiful setting and it seemed the perfect size. Not too far to walk to all the areas yet still loads of space for the dogs. Definitely let down by the signage - the first we saw were at the gates. If I have a criticism it is just that there was too much to see and do and not enough time to do it all! Most enjoyed watching Dock Dogs - hilarious - and Kate & Gin, and the Awards and the Top Dogs. Can't wait for next year. Well done to all the organisers, you did a great job.