I finally got organised enough this year to book the day off work and headed off to the Cheshire Show. Accompanied by Guinness & my Mum, we entered the show into the Countryside Experience Area and quickly hurried away from the clay-pigeon shoots (loud bangs and collies often don’t mix well). The first thing that grabbed my attention was the chainsaw carvings. Intricate figures sculptured from wood with fine precision! I love them and I’m in awe of the skill it takes.
We ventured past stalls with wicker baskets, tweed jackets, and flat caps and found our way to the main arena. The rumours were all true, the Cheshire Show is huge! But it does flow and we found it easy to get round it all.
I started off in the poultry and small animal tents (no dogs allowed so we took turns) and gawped at the rows of cages containing different chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs and pigeons.
As we got closer to the dog show area the number of dog stalls increased. I spotted a dog paddling pool alongside one stall and welcomed the chance to soak Guinness’ cool coat. Turns out they had been put out by the lovely guys at Hi K9 Dogs Beds. I’ve been contemplating getting one of these beds for ages as I’d like Guinness to settle on a bed during agility training, but don’t want his cloth bed covered in orange sand. The hi beds sit high up on stilts (as the name suggests) and have a mesh cover which is easily cleaned. Guinness happily hopped on to the large that was put out to try and after a few moments we walked away to contemplate it for a while.
I stopped to admire the range of Ruffwear products for sale on the JulesK9 stall but didn’t part with my money this time and then found myself ringside for the dog show. There were two long rows with many rings containing different breeds being judged. Dog showing isn’t really my cup of tea, but nevertheless we wandered along to the Border Collie judging to check out the “poncy” collies. They look nothing like Guinness, so small and dainty (plus well groomed)! The one pictures below is the closest I found to a “proper” collie. Of course they’re still lovely dogs, with nice natures and perfectly capable at getting rough, tough and mudy around an agility course, but they’re just so different in their build. As we watched for a while I heard a mutter of “I didn’t agree with that judges decision”. It seems like dog competitions of any nature have their similarities!
Further on there was a great crowd around the Airport Fire Service stand and for good reason, a fireman was sat on a seat above a water pool and people were trying to throw a ball into a tiny hole to dunk him. Chance was on our side! While we were watching a few people had their go and failed to dunk him, then a guy got his second throw spot on and down he went! Hurrah!
The sun had been out all morning and as we approached lunch time it was really warm! Not surprisingly most of the animals had dozed off.
We stopped outside of the Food Marquees, next to the Shire Ring, to have some lunch and watched the beautiful horse drawn carriages parade around. It was amazing to see two hackney horses trotting along in absolute sync with each other, raising their legs up at the same time to the same height. Awesome.
We took turns in the food halls, the only other section dogs weren’t allowed, and I had a quick look at the various cheeses, meats, wines, and more! I tried some strong blue cheese (nom) and chocolate wine (like a rich red wine which leaves an after taste of chocolate in your mouth) and then ventured back outside and around the livestock tents. Guinness was very interested in the pigs, sniffing the pens and even touching nose to nose with one curious pig. Perhaps he’d prefer to be a pig dog than a sheep or calf dog.
From here we wove our way up and down the trade stands we’d missed, bumped into Amy Marks and Andy Biggar again (I was pleased to see they were a little busier than they were at Bolesworth) and headed back to the Hi K9 stall to pick up Guinness’ new bed!
I chose my ride home (I wish) from the selection of vintage cars and then we took a seat around the BASC display ring, ready for the sheepdog display!
Tatton Park Shire Horses were on beforehand and it was lovely to see how majestic and elegant shire horses can move. The ring was quite small but they cantered around with ease and surprisingly there was no earthquake!
Then what I’d been waiting all day for, the Quack Pack sheepdog display! Meirion had a lovely south Welsh accent and he was very funny. He introduced the Indian Runner ducks and explained why he uses ducks instead of sheep for displays before bringing out his first dog, Sam. Sam herded the ducks through a tunnel and water trough before sending them back into the trailer.
Then out came his 18 month old (can’t remember her name) and he explained how they start training the dog and a bit about the training methods. As always there was some audience participation with a woman being asked into the ring and given a go at controlling the dog. With some subtly commands from Meirion, or/and some brilliant training, Sam took the ducks through the tunnel with barely a direction from the woman. “I’ve been banging on all day about how this job isn’t as easy as it looks and you’ve just made me look like a right idiot.” Meirion said. So funny. Then the finale, children were invited in and sat down in three groups “Walk. Walk. Sit.” He then used Sam to weave the ducks in and out of the three groups, back again and into the trailer! Brilliant. The ducks were so calm and funny, with one of them running off into the trailer instead of following the rest to the water trough, and the dogs handled them with gently authority. It was a real joy to watch, plus a fun, original way of using children in a display.
Black clouds were looming ahead and it was time to go home. We’d been around the whole show and seen everything we wanted. A very fulfilling day!
So is the Cheshire Show actually dog friendly? For me, yes! I didn’t once see myself looking at an owner and dog thinking “get some control” (which is a rarity trust me). Most of the time passing dogs weren’t allowed to meet each other and the few times they did they merely exchanged a bum sniff at most. The majority of the time they passed by with an almost human-like head nod at each other and that was all. A handful of stalls had dog bowls out and I was pleased to see a number of dogs sporting their own cool coats. Of course the show was very busy and some areas were really packed. Guinness was exceptionally calm and patience and walked nicely beside me, weaving through many legs and accepting the occasional child’s hand that brushed along his back as we walked past. The only thing that freaked him out was the cow mascot… a person dressed up as a cow waving at him… oh my god! He couldn’t cope with that so we quickly moved away.
Like any country fair there is a lot of noise, a lot of people, the occasional bangs and noisy fairground rides and lots of other dogs. But if you’re sensible and have a well-rounded dog that’s been socialised and trained properly, you don’t have a problem.