Yesterday saw my dog Berta’s first dog show, which was all in all a rather odd occasion. It was a charity event, run by Glebe Von Wood, the very nice boarding kennels where Berta stays if we are both away from home for a day or two, and Hicks Lodge, the National Forest Cycling Centre. These are both organisations that we were keen to support, so we thought we should come along, and enter Berta in one or two categories for fun. We walked there, and Berta was quite keen for the walk, and ran off enthusiastically down the path. It is a rather pleasant trip, through forests and by lakes in the Leicestershire countryside.
As we got to the entrance to Hicks Lodge, a bicycle and a chariot, both pulled by huskies, passed us. This, I should add, is not a normal part of a visit to Hicks Lodge, and was related to the dog show being in place.
The next animals that turned up, though, were not dogs but a flock of geese, no doubt coming to see what the fuss was about. Hicks Lodge is a wonderful place not just to cycle, or walk a dog, but to watch birds. There are plenty of birds of various species to see, and with helpful information boards with large colour pictures of each of the creatures, it is easy for the amateur ornithologist to enjoy the splendour of nature.
We continued our walk around the footpath, and as we came to the main car park, there were groups of huskies there, set out as though they were about to pull sleds all day. Berta watched curiously, listening to the noise that the pack was making.
There were other husky powered vehicles passing by as we walked over to where the dog show was happening.
When we got over to the dog show area, there were more huskies. It did seem that the husky was the dog of the day, with plenty of these beautiful creatures all over the place.
There were a series of categories in the quite light hearted and not terrifically competitive dog show, starting with the agility test. We decided that this was not the best category for Berta, as she would probably look at the jumps and give us that curious look as to why we were expecting her to leap over them. There were a number of generally quite large dogs lining up to take part.
We did, however, enter Berta for three categories, the prettiest female, the most striking dog, and the nicest eyes. Given Berta’s very visible damage to one eye, we thought the last category was a bit of a long shot. When her first category came up, Berta walked into the circle of competing dogs, which included walking at heel, sitting down on command, and lying down. Berta is normally quite good at doing this on request, but had decided that this was not the day that she was going to do these things, and would sit down for a few seconds then stand up again. Perhaps the tarmac was too cold for her.
Her next category of Most Striking Dog was a little similar, but included striking a pose, during which Berta was helped by having our young son Xander with her.
This, I am pleased to say, was enough to win her third place in this category, complete with a rosette, which she then proudly wore on her collar.
She did, though, give us a rather curious look when we suggested that she entered her final category of nicest eyes.
I did think that the rosette made her look like she should be standing in the forthcoming council elections, however, I am quite sure that this is not among her immediate plans. We headed to the café at Hicks Lodge after this, and had lunch. If you have not been to Hicks Lodge for the cycling opportunities, or for any of the many educational and fun events that they run, or even for walking around the paths, then you should go for lunch. Much as lunch itself is nice, the cakes that always come afterwards for me are rather excellent. The lime and elderflower cheesecake yesterday was almost the highlight of the day. It was very impressive, but of course, not as impressive as Berta’s first rosette.