Let me explain why I show do love going to the dogs

Share this article

Well now, as this edition of The Pilgrim is on the stocks the present state of play is there has been no rain for three days, maybe more, but not much more than that.

Across the UK the weather doomers are laying plans to announce a terrible drought – a biblical dry spell, the like of which we will not have seen in this land since Adam was a boy, the arid soil bare of life, thirst-crazed football fans foaming at the mouth and, of course, early rumours that Brenda’s diamond anni-bash will have to be cancelled in the interests of public safety.

The only real snag to their plot is the UK climate, which if it performs as normal will mean any protest marches against hosepipe bans will be rained off and farmers will be calling for government help to pay for losses caused by flooding. We have one of the most variable climates going and surely instead of moaning about it, we should learn to live with it and enjoy what is available as best we can.

Yep, that’s right, we need to enjoy ourselves a lot more and that typically means it is up to us to find something we like doing and get on with it.

I shall now tell you how I have led by example.

As you already know, The Pilgrim is dog daft, with a bit left over for cats. Anything vaguely doggy will see me there, likely as not with the Grey Hooligan in tow, ready for some good old-fashioned enjoyment.

Last Sunday saw myself and GH all spruced up (like both of us) and cruising the back road towards Houdshall on the way to Midlem, where the Duke of Buccleuch Hunt Supporters’ Club stage their annual terrier and lurcher show. It only costs a couple of quid to get in, not being a rock concert or anything to do with the Olympics, and you get a free programme thrown in for good value.

People attending such canine extravaganzas should not under any circumstances confuse the event with the posher dog shows where people, usually without any pedigree, show dogs that most certainly have.

In the case of lurcher and terrier showing, the process of breeding the canines on show is at best a matter of some approximation and they are all the better for that. Dogs of all sizes, colours and description are all there for the fun, although winning a class on the day does qualify the lucky mutt for other more serious contests aimed at those who take it all too seriously.

You see, ownership of a muscular long dog or a snarly terrier was once the preserve of those who either hunted game for a living or as part of a sport in which not getting your collar felt was an essential part of the entertainment.

Nowadays such dogs are more often found as treasured pets in many households, more valued for companionship than any hunting prowess. There are still a few who adhere to the illicit taking of game, although it must be mentioned the guys who indulge in such practices are not commonly seen at lurcher or terrier shows as it is in their interest to keep the battle-scarred dogs they employ well out of the public gaze.

In short, the socialisation of these two types of country dogs has done much to ease the aggravation caused by the prohibition of hunting with dogs of any kind. And, by the way, I am far too experienced to get into any wrangle about hunting bans etc. – I have my own views, which I rarely share with anyone, and will continue like that unless I get garrulously drunk sometime, and these days that is most unlikely.

So there I was, sitting out of the hot sun in the shade of the refreshment tent, with GH lying at my feet, observing a weird and wonderful selection of dogs and people, eyeing up dogs, meeting old friends, or like me indulging in a session of covert people watching.

The variety was great, some real characters, quite a lot of dog-savvy kids, flamboyantly-dressed ladies showing off their tans and tattoos, men attempting to dress rural, not always with success, and others like me who cling to a dress style of jeans and shirtsleeves that now seems almost ageless.

Because of the well-known fact that dog people are very matey and like nothing better than to talk dog, I got to know several complete strangers, a few more who knew me well, although I could not remember them (it’s an age thing), and, of course, old friends.

The afternoon passed all too quickly and after watching several show classes and some chaotic terrier/lurcher racing, it was time to wander homewards for a well-deserved rest.

Did I enjoy myself? You bet I did!