This will be the first in a series where I will bring together all the doggy events happening in Northern Ireland that I can find for the upcoming months. There’s always lots of fun events over the summer months so hopefully you can find an event that suits you and your dog!
Saturday 15th July
Castlewellan Agricultural 50th Anniversary Show – Castlewellan
This week was super long and stressful due to work so we were really glad to make it to the weekend all in one piece! During the week we didn’t have much time to go on any special adventures with Bonnie but for our walks at night we decided to take her into town for some extra stimulation and training while it was quiet out.
We did some “barkour” which is like the sport parkour but for dogs, so she got some time to go off lead and play with obstacles – jumping over, onto and crawling under things like benches etc. It’s great stimulation for her out as the town is always filled with new and exciting smells for her to sniff and combining it with the “barkour” means she comes home mentally and physically tired.
Yesterday we went to a dog event that was held in Crawfordsburn Country Park which was the same place as the last event we went to. We went hoping that it would be a better set up and thankfully they used a different part of the park which meant it was lovely and spacious so Bonnie could get in and involved without being overwhelmed! It was such a beautiful day but it wasn’t packed so it was really relaxing and Bonnie totally rocked it.
She was able to settle as we stood about and kept her calm even after a boisterous pup unsettled her (I don't think the owner was too happy as she didn't seem to understand Bonnie was teaching it some manners as it was a very rude puppy but what the owner only saw was Bonnie telling it off haha oh well). She was doing so well and since the ring wasn't too crowded we decided to enter her into two of the competitions – Most Fetching and DICE Dog's Got Talent – and she managed to come 2nd in Most Fetching and 1st in DICE Dog's Got Talent which was great fun. We left afterwards as it was too hot out to stay much longer.
It was really nice to win the little ribbons and trophy but to be honest I was more proud of how well Bonnie did and the fact she was able to concentrate on me in a situation that would’ve been too difficult for her in the past. She was able to focus and have fun with me and besides the little shake off near the end of the video she was happy and engaged throughout. She did me proud especially because we hadn’t prepared or practised the routine (if you can even call it that haha) we performed. Also she had only just began offering the sit pretty for the pretend gun cue 2 days ago so was super impressed all around with her ❤
Today we didn't intend to go on any special adventures with Bonnie but she had a different motive! It all started pretty innocently as she was playing with a new teddy we had got at the event and we let her take it into the back garden to play with while we made dinner.
Well as usual we look out the window every minute or so to check on Bonnie and wouldn’t you know it there isn’t a sign of her in the garden. I immediately change from my slippers into my boots, grab her collar (because god forbid she bloody would escape when she’s not wearing her collar) and run out the front door while my partner checks the back. My heart is pounding frantically thinking what if she got out to the main road and worrying because she has literally no road sense. I run around and call her name but hear and see nothing so I run back to the side of the house where my partner is.
We see the little poop head then – she had got into the garden past the brambles and branches and across the stream and was having a wild time playing chasies with the black lab and it’s owner. I shout Bonnie twice, she turns around and spots me through the trees and thank god she starts running towards me, I keep calling and saying good girl and praising. She makes it over the stream and through the brambles and I promptly pick her up heart beating like mad, sweating and weak from worry. We make it back home and I feed her loads of high value treats hoping she remembers why to come back if it ever happens again.
All I can say is thank god we have worked so much on her recall and our bond in general that she was able to recall off playing with the dog and from so far away. I will definitely be upping our recall practice to include out of sight recalls as she didn’t respond to me calling her name until she was able to see me through the trees so we definitely need to work on getting Bonnie to track me from voice alone. Also needless to say she will be supervised in the garden until we get the fence fixed from where she dug out -_-
I honestly was so worried that something bad would’ve happened so I am so grateful that everything turned out okay in the end. Hopefully your weekend wasn’t as heart pounding!
This weekend we decided to go to a Bark in the Park event at Crawfordsburn county park and see how Bonnie would get on since she was so great at the Cancer Focus NI event at Stormont. When we arrived at the car park the place was totally packed! We drove slowly around looking for a parking spot and had to brake as a Yorkshire Terrier ran out in front of our car, some woman was unloading her car and let the dogs out with no leads on! The one we nearly ran over was zooming all over the place, the woman wasn’t even properly trying to get it back – it clearly had no recall and it flinched when she reached for it’s collar 😦 It was a bit of a nightmare and we should’ve took it as a sign of things to come!
When we arrived at the event area we immediately knew this wasn’t going to be a suitable event for Bonnie. At the event at Stormont the stalls were well spaced out and there was plenty of room to move away if Bonnie got uncomfortable but this event was soo packed. The stalls were very close, the paths were narrow, the dog show ring was absolutely dreadful and there was very little green space left clear except where we stood on the outskirts. They had opened up the centre to dogs with stalls inside which was way too close quarters for dogs to be walking through – some of the aisles between stands were about 2 people wide!
I left Bonnie with my partner to go and explore the event as there was no way I was putting her through all that stress as it was so busy and while there were a few dogs having the time of their lives (Goldens loving on all the fuss etc) many dogs were stressed out giving signals that were missed by their owners as they were so busy looking around them and not paying any attention to their dogs. Also gotta love the parents who weren’t looking after their child who ran up to Bonnie out of nowhere while she was sniffing and tried to pet her, I had to stand in front of Bonnie and tell the kid to stop. The kid just huffed and walked away, and she was still without her parents about an hour and a half later when we were leaving, unbelievable!
Although Bonnie wasn’t able to properly go into the event we used it as a training exercise and gave her loads of treats and praise for being near all the noise and commotion of the event. And she didn’t leave empty handed, although she really does not need any more treats at the minute, I bought her a loaf of frozen liver cake and some chicken hearts from the Natural Raw Feeding NI stall.
Overall it really wasn’t an event for us and I was a bit disappointed. I understand that Bonnie is quite a sensitive dog and not the ideal candidate for going to these types of busy events but I believe if it was better laid out it would’ve been more suitable and catered to more dogs especially nervous or shy dogs. I feel like too many people believe events and places like dog parks, fields and walks should only be for only overly friendly, in your face and bombproof dogs but I personally think we should be more catering to all dogs whether they are shy, dog reactive etc. As I went around the event I could see other dogs were stressed and maybe the owners weren’t aware, were busy or didn’t care as they wanted to stick around for the events but personally I couldn’t put Bonnie into that situation.
It took a lot out of Bonnie and that was with just keeping on the outskirts of the event, she slept pretty much the rest of the day! Although this event wasn’t quite for us it won’t stop us from going to future ones and keep trying as we seen with the Stormont event Bonnie can rock them as long as there is some personal space and not too packed!