Turadh scoops Dog of the Year award at Lochaber canine group AGM

Turadh and Heather go through their paces. Photograph: Sean Cameron / seancameronphotographic.com NO F07 Heather and dog
Turadh and Heather go through their paces. Photograph: Sean Cameron / seancameronphotographic.com NO F07 Heather and dog

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There was plenty to celebrate at this month’s AGM of Lochaber & District Canine Society, not least getting back to more normal dog-related activities, including picking a Dog of the Year.

At the AGM in the Nevis Centre in Fort William last Tuesday night, chairperson Lorna Ungoed-Thomas gave a review of activities throughout 2021 which were again scaled down due to Covid-19 restrictions.

‘We continued to run Zoom puppy classes, then in the summer we were delighted to be able to start outdoor classes for ongoing puppies, ring craft, agility, recallers and hoopers,’ she said.

‘Finally in November restrictions eased sufficiently to allow us to start indoor classes. The Nevis Centre was still undergoing some refurbishment work but we were happy to get half of the big hall to run a puppy class and a ring craft class, both of which were fully subscribed.’

At the AGM, the Dog of the Year trophy, went to Turadh, a merle border collie owned by Heather Negus from North Ballachulish.

Last week also marked the last night of another six-week puppy class.  These classes are based on the Kennel Club Good Citizen Puppy Foundation Scheme and owners were delighted to receive a certificate and rosette on completion.

Lorna Ungoed-Thomas and her black labrador Gwen who passed their Puppy Foundation course on Tuesday. NO F07 Lorna and Gwen the dog
Lorna Ungoed-Thomas and her black labrador Gwen who passed their Puppy Foundation course on Tuesday.

‘They have all worked really hard and had fun training with their dogs.  These courses are very popular with a waiting list for classes,’ Lorna added.

She continued: ‘As we get back to normality we hope to be able to offer more classes.  There are three further levels to achieve in the Kennel Club Awards and we hope to offer a bronze class in the near future.

‘Looking to the summer, we plan to run our ever popular agility classes, rally and canine hoopers, and our Kennel Club Licenced Breed Show is scheduled for September.’

Prior to lockdown, Turadh and Heather had started to learn some heelwork to music and attended workshops in Glasgow.

Heelwork to music (HTM) is where the person creates routines to music and performs them with their dog.

When lockdown arrived, HTM groups and trainers traditionally operating face-to-face began training online. Heather joined online training sessions with a HTM group which invited guest trainers from round the world.

And the HTM community joined together and created its own ‘HTM toilet roll relay’ video.

In 2021 as restrictions lifted, Turadh and Heather ventured further and attended some face-to-face training and fun HTM shows.

Heather explained: ‘HTM competitions have several levels and we’re still in the beginner level, but are starting to get our act together and do okay in these classes.

‘Most recently Turadh won a couple of fun HTM show beginner classes. I think we’re both getting hooked. We’re really looking forward to lots of training, lots of practice, and getting to more HTM competitions this summer.

‘It was lovely for Turadh to be recognised as Dog of the Year by the Lochaber & District Canine Society, where Turadh has been attending training classes since she was a puppy.

‘They’ve been very supportive of our efforts and recently let us practice our HTM during classes which means we get to practice in a hall rather than our kitchen!

‘Turadh is such an enthusiastic, lovely dog to train and puts up with me when I can’t remember my cues and forget what we’re supposed to be doing, which happens frequently.

‘Training together really helps build an incredible bond between the two of us. Turadh celebrated her Dog of The Year win with some delicious treats when we got home.’