Posts tagged ‘freak weather’

Belatarr Best of Breed at Bournemouth.

Dodging endless ominous looking thunderstorms. all of which seemed to break just beyond the showground, Belatarr Mahalia Jackson (Billie) scored another memorable win today under breed specialist Mike Lewin at the Bournemouth Championship Show.

Billie in the Bitch Challenge.

Billie in the Bitch Challenge.

Billie in action in the Gundog Group ring.

Billie in action in the Gundog Group ring. Photo courtesy of Katherine N. Gunstad.

Having won 1st in Limit Billie then beat the assembled Champions to take an excellent Best Bitch and was then awarded her 3rd Champ Show Best of Breed of 2014, further consolidating her place as the Top Scoring HWV bitch this year.

Billie and Irene share a moment in the Group Ring. :)

Billie and Irene share a moment in the Group Ring. Photo courtesy of Katherine N. Gunstad.




11/08/2014 at 21:27 1 comment


Mingus at the river.

Phoenix contemplates the new snowiverse.

Yes, like the whole of the rest of the UK, the snow has finally arrived here in Wolfvalley. Approx 6 inches fell overnight with mild drifting creating around a foot of depth in places, rendering the road/lane impassable (no change there then…)  and once again transforming our valley garden into a “Winter Wonderland”;  to whit:

Early morning sun across the garden valley.

The bottom of the garden.

The lane - a dog-only zone for today.

Arctic romp.

At the garden gate heading into the woodland.

Phoenix waiting at the gate...

Phoenix in a snowy point.

Phoenix catching snowballs.

Mingus makes snowy progress.

Mingus the Snowbeard.

My, what snowy eyebrows you have.

It's never too snowy to dig for voles.

But this is the result - A Yeti? or a small breed of Highland Cattle perhaps?

Phoenix in the Redwood Grove.

Our river - almost monochromatic today.

The weir & water glinting blue in the sunlight, as viewed through the trees from the bridge at the bottom of the garden.

Birch trunk in the snow.

18/12/2010 at 13:40 1 comment

Minehead: officially above water once again.

Last summer’s Minehead Open show was notable principally for the torrential rain and subsequent flooding that swept the show-ground, marquees and show rings. As vehicles were towed out of the showground one-by-one by a convoy of tractors, we assumed the entire area would probably sink, Atlantis-like, beneath the ever deepening sea of mud and water.

But no. Twelve months later the scene was very different and watched over by the magnificent Dunster Castle we dog-folks enjoyed what in the words of the song proved to be a: “Bright (bright) Bright (bright) sunshine-y daa-a-aay.”

Both of our beasts were out in action today. Mingus, though, was by no means at his best in a 10-strong NSC Graduate class, and, for the first time,  failed to get placed, which was not a great surprise.

Phoenix, on the other hand, showed really nicely and was rewarded with 1st NSC Open and then Best NSC Gundog. She was also pulled-out & short-listed for Best Gundog in Show, for only the second time in her show career. Sterling work from Team Belatarr….

Steely focus from Phoenix & handler in the Gundog Group challenge, whilst fuzz-headed aliens noisily erect their chairs approx. two feet away.

This extra ring-time also allowed us to park Junior back in the “Belatarr Touring Motorhome”, enabling one of our crack-team of in-house photographers to nip back and take some pics of Phoenix in action.

One of our team principles also entered into a lively debate with our good friend Sam from Farlap Photography about the merits of using a remote-control device to correct future Belatarr handler errors. A bit like flying a model plane or performing key-hole surgery perhaps?

28/07/2010 at 20:01 4 comments

Once More Unto the Beach…

“Experts” tell us that today may be the last scorching hot day for the foreseeable, so the only possibly course of action was clear: head to the beach!

The scene of today's adventures - at Northam with the golden sand of Braunton Beach in the distance.

Mingus head shot.

Mingus sneaks up on some fast-moving seaweed.

Mingus self-stacking (sort of).

and Phoenix nearly manages the same trick.

Follow the leader.

The big boing!

Hungarian Wirehaired Sea Otter?

25/05/2010 at 09:00 2 comments

River beds, Jazz names and Birmingham.

Mingus: pausing briefly before investigating another exciting dead thing (today's, rather randomly, was a mole).

First off, Mingus’ lovely mum, Anora (Starshot English Miss for Morehay) won another Championship Show Best of Breed at the National Dog Show in Birmingham last Sunday, against some very stiff competition from some very fine dogs.

The judges lovely critique read:

At three years old she is mature and of excellent breed type. So well proportioned all thorough. Pleasing feminine head, excellent angulation both front and rear giving free sound movement where she excelled. It was a pleasure to watch her striding around the ring with reach and drive. Best Bitch. Best of Breed.”

Unfortunately we weren’t at the show, but if we had been we’d have been hopping up and down with excitement….which is pretty much what we did anyway on hearing the news. We’re absolutely thrilled for Anora, Jacqui & handler Emma.

Mingus stands to attention on hearing news of mum's latest big win.

Down here in Devon we’re in the midst of an almost-drought. Bits and bobs of rain have come to nothing, and the river has virtually disappeared altogether, exposing the slate river bed with just a small funnel of water off to one side.

Phoenix picks her way across what's left of our river.

Mingus continues to develop rapidly. He seems to have pretty much settled into his shape and proportions now and looks like an almost exact blend of each of his parents, which is just fine with us!

Mingus on point.

When we chose his name we (mistakenly, as it turns out!) thought that:

1) Charlie Mingus was pretty much a household name


2) That our favourite hippy chick musician Joni Mitchell‘s Jazz influenced 70’s album “Mingus” was almost as well known….

Instead out we find ourselves explaining anywhere between 1 and 100 times every day what our boy is called and why.

In the reeds.

Still, we’ve recently learned that we’re in good company. Danish supermodel Helena Christensen‘s son is also named Mingus, as are a select handful of other online dogs around the world, including a Vizsla. There’s even a highly successful Beagle and Foxhound breeder & show judge in Australia who’s kennel name is Mingus.  On that basis we’re pretty sure that by this time next year everyone will want to be called Mingus….possibly.

Venturing forth with a captive stick.

12/05/2010 at 09:00 1 comment

The Shows Must Go On.

Over the past 13 days we’ve been to 5 separate, and extremely differing shows with Phoenix. We’ve had some disappointments, some extraordinary success and have learned a huge amount about how best to show and make the most of our time in the ring.

What follows in this megapost are some impressions of each show in ascending order of how-well-we-showed, peppered with photos of differing quality:

Minehead Open Show

Way back on July 29th we all woke to torrential rain plus the news that all the local rivers were set to break their banks in general end-of-the-world-is-nigh type conditions. What better day, then, to head out to the Dunster Country Fair and associated Minehead Canine Society Show?

Upon arrival we found foot deep mud, a team of tractors towing vehicles into and out of the showground and wet-weather show tents that were flooded, hugely overcrowded and rapidly turning into quagmires of mud. Tim and Phoenix gamely trudged through said mud to do some practicing, but as time wore on Phoenix became increasingly frustrated and bored by the conditions and the lack of space.

When we finally hit the ring – virtually at the very end of the show – we gave a rather lacklustre performance and Phoenix made it clear that she’d really rather be somewhere else right about now.  We managed to get a best Puppy Not Seperately Classified and then went on to get 4th best Gundog Puppy. The judge told us later that Phoenix had “rather thrown it away” in that Gundog Puppy Group, but under those conditions  we were just happy when the whole thing was over and we could slide-and-spin back out of the mud and off into the still-torrential rain.

Bournemouth Champ Show

Bournemouth - first stack.

Bournemouth - first stack.

In total contrast Aug 8th was one of the few hot sunny days of the summer. Remembering back to her very first show back in the baking heat of May we realised that Phoenix would not show well if she was hot, so we kept her in the cool shade of an unused marquee and also kept damping her down with cold water. The previous breed over-ran by several hours and by the time we did get to the ring, despite our efforts at cooling, Phoenix was very sleepy and floppy. She stood nicely, but her gaiting was perfunctory and pretty unenthusiastic…not much Phoenix *sparkle* on view in the ring today and we were awarded 3rd Best Junior Bitch.

Bournemouth - the examination.

Bournemouth - the examination.

We’ve spent lots of time trying to calm Phoenix down at shows so that she can focus once in the ring, but it’s clear that she now “gets” the whole show hullabaloo and the future priority instead must be on allowing her to show off, rather than rein in, her personality.

Bournemouth - final stack.

Bournemouth - final stack.

National Gundog Championship
August 1st saw us head off to a drizzly Three Counties Showground, and an impeccably organised show. Sadly the superb outdoor rings were rendered out of bounds by the weather, and the dogs were instead judged in the giant hanger-cum-warehouses at the venue.

Puppy Bitch Class at Nat Gundog.

Puppy Bitch Class at Nat Gundog...we're in the middle!

Conditions for humans were hot and noisy, but Phoenix seemed very chipper, and, since everything ran to time, there was minimal waiting time and we hit the ring with Phoenix pretty fresh. She stood as asked and gaited OK, though dertainly not at her optimum full pace. We were in HWV Puppy Bitch class and managed to score a 2nd place, beaten only by an older and more mature dog on her final outing as a puppy.

The judges critique read:

“substantial puppy, yet to grow into herself. Good coat developing, balanced head, correct eye shape, very nice neck, strong boned forelegs, strong pasterns, good length & shape of ribs, correct loin, well muscled croup & 1 thigh, she will be able to hold herself together on the move when she matures.”

This was an extremely enjoyable and sociable show where we met many HWV friends, old and new. Much fun was had!

North Devon Open Show
The closest showground venue to our home also turned out to be the undoubted highlight of our short show career so far! In ideal, bright, breezy and fairly cool conditions we were awarded 1st Junior AVNSC Gundog – an achievement since Phoenix is only 8 months old and the class was for dogs up to 18 months – as well as best AVSNC Gundog Puppy.

Being Awarded 1st in Junior Class at North Devon Show.

Being Awarded 1st Junior at North Devon Show.

Then, almost immediately, we were up against all the other Gundog best-of-breed puppies and, to our complete delight, managed to win 1st Gundog puppy as well – our first 1st, following the two Gundog Puppy Group 2’s at Liskeard & Dorset.  The judge was Dr. Monica Boggia-Black – one of the most senior dog judges in the country, and a multiple Crufts judge. She came up to Tim and said of Phoenix: “you’ve got a real star there!” – cue big smiles!

Being Awarded 1st in Junior Class at North Devon Show.

Being Awarded 1st Gundog Puppy at North Devon Show.

We didn’t have time to catch our breath though, and were immediately whisked off to the Best Puppy In Show ring where Tim & Phoenix, representing the Gundog Group, were up against the top puppy from each of the Terrier, Hound, Pastoral, Working, Utility & Toy groups.

Gundog Puppy Group 1, 2 & 3 at North Devon Show

Gundog Puppy Group 1, 2 & 3 at North Devon Show

Lined up for Best Puppy in Show at North Devon Show.

Lined up for Best Puppy in Show.

The ring was hugely expanded and, for the first time since Liskeard, Phoenix  gaited really beautifully, at full fast pace with her huge stride in full evidence. Judging was very quick and decisive and we were utterly thrilled to be awarded 2nd Best Puppy in Show, an incredible achievement at only the 7th ever show for either Tim or Phoenix. We also believe that, at just 8 months, Phoenix may well be the youngest HWV ever to have been awarded such a high placing at an all-group Open show in the UK.

The judges critique read:

Very pleasing head and eye, good shoulder placement and nice front and feet. Excellent mover. Best Gundog Puppy. Res BIS Puppy.

We’re so immensely proud of our little gal and all she’s managed to achieve in just 6 1/2 months since she came to live with us in Devon … and it’s now official – she truly is a real star!!

08/08/2009 at 23:29 4 comments

Trip to the Sea.

Digging at the Beach.

Digging at the Beach.

Collecting Shells.

Collecting Shells.

We are blessed here in North Devon to be located very near to several of the countries best beaches, and we figured that at 14 weeks old, it was about time that Phoenix was introduced to the joys of the sea and sand. With this in mind we headed to Saunton Sands on an unseasonably warm and sunny Winter’s afternoon (alongside half the working population of North Devon who had also bunked off work at the first hint of sunshine).

Striding on with Fred and Ad on an "overcrowded" beach.

Striding on with Fred and Ad on an "overcrowded" beach.

Phoenix met lots of dogs (including a 12 week old Weimaraner boy, the world’s largest Labradoodle and an even  larger and exceedingly bouncy, playful Bernese Mountain Dog) alongside many human admirers.

Into the Sea.

Into the Sea.

She enjoyed digging in the sand and hunting for shells, although she was a little more dubious about the icy cold Atlantic Ocean. Tim, Freddie and Phoenix all suffered chilly toe syndrome which took some time to recover from.  Chips helped to chivvy along the cure…

20/02/2009 at 20:17 Leave a comment

Walking in A Winter Wonderland…

kentbKent Brockman: “Roads closed, pipes frozen, albinos …virtually invisible. The National Weather Service has upgraded Springfield’s North Devon’s blizzard from “Winter Wonderland” to a “Class 3 Kill-Storm”!

Marge: I don’t like the sound of that “class 3”.

After yesterdays smattering of snow, we awoke (like the rest of the country) to find a good six inches or so covering everything in sight. Very Christmas picture-postcardy.

Into the Garden under Snow.

Into the Garden under Snow.

People all over the county spent the night trapped in their cars or without electricity, it even made the national news. We lost electricity for about 4 hours and wondered how long it would be before we were foraging like wild animals for soya cappuccino and novelty USB Memory Sticks.

To celebrate Phoenix’s three month birthday and

Cake + Dog + National Emergency = PARTY TIME!

We *heart* National Emergencies.

Adam’s 43rd, it was decided that snow+cake+dog+national state of emergency= PARTY TIME!

Phoenix was quite delighted with the transformation of the garden landscape as she variously tried romping, eating, digging, chasing and rolling in the snow. We had a** lot** of fun; the pictures tell the story much better than we can…. Sorry about the messy layout but WordPress seems to be a bit temperamental with multiple picture posts.

With Tim in the Snow.

With Tim in the Snow.

Did we mention the cake?

Did we mention the cake?

Running in the Snow.

Running in the Snow.

Snuffling SNow.

Snuffling Snow.

03/02/2009 at 17:25 Leave a comment

We were really making Snow Angels.

Chasing Adam.

Chasing Adam.

Catching Adam.

Catching Adam.

Bringing Adam down like a wounded Gnu.

Bringing Adam down like a wounded Gnu.

03/02/2009 at 17:24 Leave a comment

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