On 1st August through to the 4th August I attended the BBC Countryfile Show at Blenheim Palace to deliver a number of demos in the Dog Lovers Arena. With over 250,000 visitors having attended what has become one of Britain’s largest outdoor event since 2016, this year’s attendance was no different and we had a very busy few days!
THE DOG LOVERS ARENA
The Dog Lovers Arena was sponsored by the PDSA and all demonstrations and acts were sourced and timetables by The Kennel Club. In addition, as in previous years, we had the pleasure of Peter Purves hosting the Dog Lovers Arena, who provided some wonderful and insightful commentary throughout the day.
The entertainment each day consisted of up to three demonstrations on the principles of dog training and behaviour provided by myself, and a number of Agility displays from both the Chance Agility Club and East Anglian Staffordshire Bull Terrier Display Team. It was wonderful to see a range of dogs partaking in agility, not just the usual breeds we might associate with the sport, showing that everyone can have a go no matter what size, breed or ability of their dog! Watching the Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s work with such focus and determination was also lovely, the team really understood the needs of the breed and are a perfect example of how to be responsible dog owners. They demonstrated positive and productive exercises and showed how they help to prevent behavioural issues by provide mental stimulation and constructive exercise. This helps them to live happily with their beautiful dogs.
Dogs For Good also provided an informative display for onlookers each day, explaining the process by which dogs are chosen and trained as assistance dogs through their scheme. In addition, the PDSA provided some invaluable demonstrations on pet first aid should they ever be faced with a position where their dog is in need and requires urgent life saving intervention. Their demonstration was informative and interactive, offering some fantastic tips to the everyday dog owner.
Demonstrating twice a day on both Thursday and Friday, and three times a day on both Saturday and Sunday I was able to connect with and share my passion and knowledge for all things dog with MANY people over the four days. It was amazing to see just how many people were eager to learn about how to best communicate with their four-legged best friend, as well as to best help them with training or behavioural needs they might have. Wren, my youngest dog, was my trusty assistant as always, eagerly demonstrating for the crowd and meeting lots of the onlookers.
Many of you will know Peter Purves from being a presenter on the legendary Blue Peter. As the host of the Dog Lovers Arena at BBC Countryfile Live, Peter’s charm and expertise entertained the crowd and, in addition, Peter also joined me in the ring for my first demonstration on both the Thursday and Friday. During this demonstration Peter helped me to demonstrate the principles of clear and effective training, how to time your commands and use positive reinforcement in order to help a dog to learn and understand, and how to bridge the communication gap between human and dog – after all, we usually speak a very different language to one another! Having joined me in the ring in both 2016 and 2017, Peter was an excellent addition to my demonstrations and expertly showed off the skills he had learnt, helping to show the crowd that anyone can learn how to train and communicate effectively with their dog. Peter is an absolute gentleman, a true dog lover and both me and Sally very much look forward to catching up with him next year.
We made some wonderful friends over the four days as well as catching up with some old friends!
The Kennel Club staff were welcoming and always happy to offer help, whether this was by bringing their own dogs into the ring to assist with my demonstrations or offering invaluable advice to pet owners. It’s very encouraging to see how their health screening and accredited breeder schemes are developing and encouraging dog owners to remain responsible.
We also got to catch up with the beautiful Cavdashian’s again, spending some time chatting about all things dogs and our adventures since last meeting! In addition, I manage to grab a quick chat with the fabulous John Craven from BBC Countryfile Live, as well as meet the inspiring Ade Adepitan, who attended to help judge the SCRUFFTS cross breed dog show on the Sunday.
I also got to chat with hundreds of wonderful dog owners, some came over to simply pass their thanks for the tips I provided, whilst others asked for training and behaviour advice to help them and their dogs. I spoke to many people over the four days and was able to meet and help a wide variety of dogs of many different breeds, shapes and sizes.
BRITISH COUNTRYSIDE & WILDLIFE
The event was not only fantastic for families, but anyone interested in the British countryside and wildlife. The Woodland Trust had a fantastic stall at the event, offering a free tree to those who opted to keep in touch with them via email. I thought this was an absolutely fantastic way to spread trees and promote wildlife across the UK. I, myself, brought home a hazel tree and have already planted it in my garden! Country File Live really is helping the countryside and is bringing people, wildlife, nature, farming, and all things outdoors together. This show really is the future of country events and I believe it will develop year on year.
Crossing the bridge across the water at Blenheim also took you over to a wildlife ‘corner’ if the event, with bee keepers, natural products and wildlife stall galore. Some were selling products, whilst others simply promoting wildlife and how to care for our countryside.
Another corner of the show offered event goers the opportunity to observe and enjoy farm animals, as well as learning about them with experts available to chat to. I was particularly interested in the chickens at the show, being a keen chicken keeper myself! We even ended up purchasing an Omlet Cube chicken coop for our chickens as they had a fantastic show offer available to event goers.
ANIMALS OF THE WORLD
As well as British Wildlife, I was pleased to see that larger organisations were connecting with event goers, raising awareness of endangered species and raising much needed funds for their protection and conservation. WWF were one of these organisations and I enjoyed chatting to them at the stall about all thing’s animal and hearing of their conservation efforts.
A FUN PACKED DAY FOR ALL
The above is just a small reflection of what was available at the BBC Countryfile Live Show at Blenheim. As we were so busy at the Dog Lovers Arena I only got to see just a small part of what was on offer, but what I can assure you is that it is definitely a fun packed day out for all! Countryfile Live offers lots of interactive, visual and educational demonstrations. A second show will take place this year at “Castle Howard” which shows how successful the event has become.
Hopefully I will see you all next year when the event returns to Blenheim!