Chapter 11 - Moving On

It was about this time that Elaine found the way in to fulfilling a long-held wish to take up Working Trials. She spotted a piece in the dog paper by Wendy Beasley inviting people to a “beginners “day to earn about the basics of the sport. Attendance at that event really lit a fuse, and with Orchid looking like the ideal dog, with her German sire’s working background, she was off and running. Such was her enthusiasm that our builder, who had been renovating the house on and off for years, Alan Hawkins, turned his hand to making a scale, clear jump and long jump boards, and regular training was instituted in the garden. Orchid did indeed prove a natural, when the mood took her, and in her very first serious competition not only gained the qualifying score, but actually won first prize at the East Anglian Working Trials Society’s Championship Show, even beating some border collies in the process.

People often ask how we can bear to part with puppies, especially when they see the litter at five or six weeks old, perhaps the cutest age, when they are just fluffy bundles but beginning to show their individuality, usually manifested in playing. Actually, it is very easy….all you have to do is project forward six months and imagine that same litter (or pack, as they would be then) at eight or nine months old, totally out of control (how could you even start to train them?). Also, it would deny us one of the great benefits of having puppies, the introduction of the breed to new people, who often, over time, become friends. It is always a thrill to hear new owners being amazed at the learning abilities of Hovawarts, and always a pleasure to see them and the progress they make over the months and years.

Having been at the shop at Great Eversden for the ten years we originally planned, we decided that, although we had made many friends and by and large enjoyed the opportunity to run an independent business together, the amount of hours needed to keep it going were proving burdensome, and we were not able to focus as much as we would have liked on the dogs, so we took the decision to try to move to give ourselves more time. Initially, we tried to sell the whole property, house and business as a going concern, and it was at this point that TV Channel 4 became involved with our plans, making a programme in their series “Life Begins Again”. Unfortunately, we were unable ultimately to find a buyer to run the shop, but we did sell the house and moved across the country to Herefordshire (for the hills and trees). The TV programme has been re-run a couple of times, and there are some nice shots of the dogs in it.

Mercedes had enjoyed motherhood so much that we decided, despite the chaos of setting up the new home, to go for a litter at her next season. This time we had tracked down a black Danish dog that, fortuitously, was living in Surrey, called Nico. We arrived in the early evening, and it was apparent that, although Mercedes and Nico were both keen on the prospect of mating, Nico didn’t really know how to go about it, and was not really a dog to be helped. We decided that, because Mercedes was such a gentle girl, that she should stay overnight, and by the time we returned, she had taught him all he needed to know, resulting in a lovely litter of 12, 8 of which were black. For reasons that now escape me, this litter were named after fruit. One rather strange thing happened. One of the puppies was sold to some people living in Washington State, USA, and it turned out that it cost half as much for John to take the puppy as for it to be sent on its own, even on the same flight, so that is what happened, and John went to Seattle for the weekend. One advantage was that he got to meet the new owners and see their home, which would otherwise be difficult, but it was a lot of flying in a very short time.


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Chapter 10 - Chelsea Remembered