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The Midland Branch Pentathlon 2019

The sun shone on the righteous as the saying goes. We must have all been very good lately for us to have had that sunny day on Saturday 19th October. Having had several nonstop wet ones up to the Friday I was a bit dubious as to how it might turn out, and a wet one the day after.

Sandra Hill (our judge) was unlucky enough to be unwell at the last minute so she was not there to judge the Beardies having a go at everything. The simplest thing was for me to take over the judging and with Steve Horne giving such able assistance between us we came to lots of results. Many thanks to him for being such a good steward and mathematician!! I will give each dog a write up for each gave me several positives and I was more than delighted to see the spirit in which both the dogs and the handlers performed.

We started off making the draw for the running order by each picking their mug for the day which had a number on the bottom, a method of which I believe I am the inventor. It works. So, with the total marks gained in running order: -

Janette Dalby and Molly. Having had a few weeks off training Molly was not as cooperative as she can be but was the cause of much laughter especially in the Agility as she determinedly went under every jump in the first round but had a big round of applause when she finally found out how to go over the last two in the second one. Very nicely handled in the Obedience. 69%

Maureen Sale with Bobby. Thoroughly reliable, he had a very good average mark to end up top dog. Lovely searching, looked a pro in the Obedience, nicely handled in the Agility, and went like the wind for a big dog n the Scurry. 93%

Helen Hill with Monty. One of my favourites. Not as fit as he might be due to a recent operation but he was there for the beer and had good time. Showed his potential in the Obedience heelwork where Helen is really positive, but he did let the side down whenever there was a tree he fancied watering! They had had enough rain thank you Monty! 69%

Sally Barnaby with Inca. A really working type of dog. I love tricolours. Wow, was she fast? You could hardly see her as she went round the Agility and also did remarkably well considering she hadn't ever tried searches and obedience. But she can run which tells me she has good conformation. Very biddable and sound and sensitively handled by Sally. 82%

Maureen Sale and Misty. Looking lovely, very promising, she could keep up with Bobby with a little more experience. Maureen has the experience to get the best out of her and I am sure she will. 79%

John Stanbridge with Nancy. I get the impression that if John were more competitive with her Nancy could fly in any of the disciplines on offer in the dog world. She is dying to doing things with him and her leaps and bounds are a sure sign that she has the drive and desire. An admirable partnership. I had to mark some of her ad libs and levitations in the obedience but it's all there. 82%

Helen Hill with Tillie. A star in the making. Only 18 months but with some careful training and development one of which to be proud. In the Search and the Obedience she was lacking in understanding but tried her best. She scored well in Conformation and Scurry to confirm my opinion that these two do tend to show up as being very much connected (yes, Steve – I agree). 83%

Halina Kochanowski with Joker. A big dog with a big heart and lots of energy. Distracted by having Steve stewarding but Halina held things together with her handling when she was not being towed at speed between tests towards Steve. Very reliable and strangely enough came out 1st,2nd,3rd ,5th and 4th in the five disciplines!!! Coincidence or what!?! 90%

Elizabeth Kershaw With Dolly. I hadn't seen her for some time. She has developed into a really nice dog. Lovely quiet handling by Elizabeth in the search showed how well Dolly knew what she was doing. She worked her socks off the whole four minutes, just finding the third article impossible! Loves her Mummy too much and insisted on hugging her as she came to each Agility object which held up progress, but she completed each round in good spirits. 73%

So to the Five Disciplines.

Searches. A very good showing in that five dogs got all three out and one got two. It's such an easy thing to teach them, just find a patch of longish grass and work with easy objects to carry to start with and throw one in and immediately allow dog to enjoy seeking for it. Lots of praise and pleasure and reward the instant they find. First just one, then two then throw in lots while the dog doesn't see you and it doesn't have to be formal, just get the dog to WANT. And see how many he keeps going for. Success being the answer. Chuck in a spare if he loses heart.

The winner was Joker with three out in the shortest time, but close behind were Bobby, Inca, Misty, all with three out in a few seconds longer, and Nancy who worked her socks off and got the third one as the bell sounded so to speak, and Dolly worked until the time was up but came out with two.

The Conformation. Not being a breed judge my criteria were not for a detailed 'breed dog' but I did like the fact that all the dogs felt fit and sound, they moved freely and were generally in good nick. I gave each a brief handling, checked mouths, and watched them going away and returning, then gave everyone a few minutes to show me how they can react and maintain attention and active enjoyment together. I found one bite slightly suspect, one or two coats IMO are a bit over the top in length, and one bitch I just had to give the top spot to and that was Tillie. Several others were close behind so then came Misty, Joker, Bobby and Dolly. I felt that it is invidious to put all the dogs in a line up from 1 – 9 in the ring so I made my list on paper and dismissed the class and ran for cover!!!

The Obedience. A simple Novice round allowing beginners to use toys rather than dumbbells if they wanted to. A circle in both directions on lead and six sides of the ring with two rights, two lefts and an about turn off lead. 1st was Bobby, 2nd Joker, 3rd Nancy, 4th Monty, 5th Molly. Happy dogs, nice feel between dog and handler in all cases, and one or two unfortunate moves in the stays but I was delighted to see what a good show they made of it. Keep the drive on the move, yes, most of them have that but spend a little more time teaching the static turns and detailed position needed and the two will come together.

The Agility. Two rounds - the best one to count. As easy as I felt was necessary. A simple clockwise round, in total five hurdles, one long jump, one tunnel, and one weave. My scoring consisted of Steve's expert timing plus what I called blobs, which were any sort of error on the course which added 3 seconds to the time.
1st - the star of this part of the show, Inca, clear in 9.93 secs,
2nd - Bobby with a blob or two - 24.3 secs.
3rd - Tillie, again with the odd blob - 24.63 secs.
4th - Joker with just one blob - 30.21 secs.
5th - Nancy with one blob - 30.23 secs.
6th - Misty with 2 blobs - 32.12 secs. with Monty, Dolly and Molly having the spectators in stitches!! (Steve - what timing!!! Who needs an electronic eye?)

The Scurry. With Steve's fabulous timing to hundredths of a second, and Alan Barnabv doing the holding of the entrants, this was the last event as usual. Nothing to say about this except that some of the handlers are getting a bit slower year on year!! Will we make it to 2020? The dogs certainly will. My goodness, we had three under 5 seconds. If you go beyond the last post by several yards you can avoid the braking that occurs if the dog sees you stop and turn round too soon. Well done to newbie winner – 1st Tillie, 2nd Nancy (a couple of hundredths in it>, 3rd Bobby, 4th Inca, 5th Joker, 6th Dolly, 7th Monty, 8th Misty and 9th Molly. All timings were very close apart from Misty and Molly who decided to go off piste so to speak. All such good fun and thank you to all for coming.

In each discipline points are gained, 20 for 1st, 19 for 2nd, 18 for 3rd etc. So you can see how everyone finished from the percentages I have put by their write ups above, the final order of placed dogs being 1st Bobby, 2nd Joker, 3rd Tillie, 4th equal the two young ladies Inca and Nancy.

I count myself as a winner too as I thoroughly enjoyed the day. With thanks to David for putting up with my hysteria when I heard about Sandra and then decorated the corner of the kitchen when I blitzed a bit of the soup in a machine whose lid was not soup proof. Only my second time of judging the Pentathlon in how many years has it been going? 30-something I believe. Thank you for accepting my decisions ---- nobody lost cake at teatime!!

Janet Martineau