Barbet News (page 82)
Barbet Funday 2016.
BARBET FUN DAY 10th September 2016 - An Outsider's View!
The Barbet Club of Great Britain held their first fun day near Wincanton on the Dorset/Somerset borders at the home of committee members Julie and Richard McDougal.
It is perhaps fortunate that the breed is an ancient water dog, as for the first few hours it drizzled with rain, but spirits weren't dampened. Of approximately 100
Barbets in the UK, 20 were present along with their owners and other helpers. Amongst these were some of this year's puppies at just 4 months old and two young male
imports from Switzerland and France, both of whom showed great promise and will be an invaluable addition to the gene pool.
Good weather for water dogs.
'Barbe' is French for 'beard' and Barbet-type dogs are the ancestor of many modern-day breeds with a particular similarity to the Spanish Water Dog. Essentially a gundog,
they are trainable and biddable, intelligent, active and playful. Their colour varies from black to brown in various shades, often with white patches. Being a non-moulting
breed with a coat similar to that of a Poodle, they are generally clipped. A coat of 1-2 inches is a desirable maintainable length although 4 inches is required for
the show ring. A grooming demonstration was held during the fun day, and it was interesting to note that the ears require plucking to keep the ear canal clear.
Bathing twice a year is sufficient to maintain the natural oils and the dogs are not blow-dried but left to dry naturally to reveal their curls. A thorough brushing
is required on a regular basis to keep their coat free of matts and burrs. A slicker brush is the basic tool, followed by a de-matting comb. 'Les Poochs' brushes
were recommended, which remove matts and tangles without discomfort.
It is testament to the small nucleus of UK breeders that in only nine years, dogs have been exported from the UK to other countries and have gained Champion titles. At present, Barbets are unrecognised in the UK by The Kennel Club so enthusiasts travel to Europe to show their dogs, which they have done with great success winning Group places, Best of Breeds and many CACs. In addition to this, the UK has produced two French Champions!
The morning started off with a make-shift agility course, including jumps (borrowed from the equine establishment next door), tyres and a tunnel. Fifteen of the dogs
including this year's puppies had a go, as well as a couple of other visitors including a very entertaining Irish Wolfhound. I was really impressed by the biddability
and attentiveness shown by the Barbets, especially the younger dogs - the 6 month old Swiss import Ollie being particularly impressive. Most of the dogs and many of
the handlers had never tried an agility course but all were willing to compete. Leika was the fastest with a clear round and had obviously done this before. Never have
I seen such appreciation for the rosettes handed out!
It is somewhat bizarre that this ancient pedigree breed can't compete at dog shows and other licensed events including Companion Dog Shows and even Club Matches in the UK. I understand that some breeders register their litters with the Kennel Club's Activity Register in order to be able to compete in Agility, Flyball, Obedience, Rally
and Working Trials. As some of the owners were unaware of this, it should be encouraged by the Club as it would further promote the breed, which already has a
devoted following with a waiting list for puppies. The Club attends events all over the country, which is how many of today's owners had found out about and been
attracted to the breed. The Barbet is not allowed to have a presence at the Kennel Club's Discover Dogs events, where I am sure they would attract even more attention.
I was told by many of the owners that when they owned just one Barbet they were often asked If they were Labradoodles, but as soon as a second one joined the family,
people would begin to ask what type of dog they were, recognising they were more than just a cross breed.
A sumptuous barbecue was laid on at lunchtime, along with a very well supported raffle to raise funds for this young, but enthusiastic club. Luckily the sun came out just in time for the fun dog show in the afternoon, where yours truly had been asked to officiate. I requested a show of hands from the audience to find out who had never been to a dog show - most of them! We then held a mini masterclass with an experienced exhibitor to explain ring procedure and give some idea about what a judge might be looking for, as well as the handler showing various ways to show and move her dog to best advantage. This was certainly appreciated and almost everyone decided to come and have a go in the three fun classes, Best Puppy from 4 to 12 months, Best Dog and Best Bitch. Although it was explained that the dogs would be formally placed in order of merit in this judge's opinion, encouragement was given to all along with explanations to the 'exhibitors' and audience throughout. The whole experience was great fun and before rosettes were handed out, everyone was reminded that at any show the places could change depending on the judge, also reminding everyone that they would always take the best dog home! On this occasion, Best Dog was a 17 month old French bred boy, completely lacking ring-craft, but quality all through.
Getting strated at Agility.
Best Bitch and Best in Show was a beautiful British bred bitch, correct in every respect and a composite show girl - any judge worth their salt would recognise this as a quality dog regardless of breed. Everyone enjoyed the experience, said they had learnt a lot and realised it wasn't as easy as the 'professionals' make it look. Several owners said that they would like to have the opportunity to have a go at 'proper' dog shows, but unfortunately they will be barred until numbers in this country increase. This fun day brought together like-minded people, justly proud of their lovely dogs and keen to get involved in activities and events. Is it any wonder that agility, flyball, heelwork to music and other activities open to crossbreeds, imported pedigree breeds and neutered dogs are ever expanding in entry numbers yet dog shows are struggling?
As the new secretary of The Barbet Club of Great Britain, I would like to very much thank Kim for coming along and supporting our Fun Day by running the agility event and
judging our show. I know that her comments and advice were much appreciated by all. I would also like to thank her for taking the time to write her report of the day.
I would also like to thank everyone for joining in and making this a great day, despite the wet weather (well, the Barbet is a Water Dog!). We look forward to the next
event and hopefully the continued expansion of the breed in the UK and worldwide.
Julie McDougal (secretary of The Barbet Club of Great Britain)