my first show

Newbury on 20th September 2003

It was a cold and foggy morning on the 20th of September. I needed to be at the showground for 7:15am which meant leaving home by 6:15am to be safe... not as bad as having to be at the farm for 6am!

I managed to get out OK, getting up had not been a problem. I was too excited to sleep anyway.

I arrived at the Showground to find the exhibitors pouring in, so I followed. In through the gates to the showground. Then down the central isle, then round a bit and then realised I was in the wrong place. I needed to get out to the normal car park and then walk back. By the time I had done this it was still just before 7 am, so I was not late. In fact no one was there yet so I was in plenty of time.

Not that far away from me, towering into the mist so that you could not see their tops were two great poles each 80ft high. I had seen them before on my other visits to the Newbury Showground, but never had the nerve to have a go at climbing them - would I this year?

Just then John turned up pulling the trailer with the wolves in and now it was time for action stations.

Unfortunately the only thing we could do was to unload the merchandise and set it up in the marquee. We did not have any cable ties to put up the banners and safety signs with. The full cage had already been assembled on Wednesday. John made a quick call and within an hour we had cable ties so it was all systems go again.

Duma and Dakota were now settled in and Keith wanted to see how they would react with the Trainees in this relatively new setting so that he would have prior knowledge so they could go into the cage during the show.

This was a fairly nervous time for me following on from my last training day when Duma had been squirmish on me when I had her on the lead. As expected she jumped up to greet me, so I went down with her and said hello rubbing her reassuringly under her belly. She settled after this and her and her sister had great fun turning me into a sandwich whilst they rubbed up against my trousers and boots.

I came out and Andy, the next trainee went in.

Once we had all come out along came a lorry and scared the wolves. Dakota jumped back and stood there looking at it and shaking. When it drove off they both quickly settled again.

The day passed well with lots of people coming up and asking questions about the wolves and were they really such 'blood thirsty killers'. The answer is of course not - certainly people are a lot worse than wolves.

The highlight of the day was when a Mum brought her kids over and said that her son had been having nightmares about wolves. So I had a chat with him and explained that in the wild a wolf is a lot more likely to run away than come anywhere close to you. We then generally chatted and he told me they had been for a walk in the woods last weekend and had seen a deer, but it had run away. I asked him;

"If the deer was a wolf, what do you think it would have done?"
His sister answered, "Come and gobbled you up" - Either I had not do a good job talking to her, or she was trying to frighten her brother!
His face lit up as he smiled and said "He would run away because he would be frightened..."

I hope he had a better nights sleep.

We took the wolves to the 'arena' twice that day and I acted as a 'blocker' to make sure the people stayed back as we took the girls from their cage to the arena. Once their John gave an informative talk about the wolves, then about the Wolfhounds and huskies that had accompanied us. It is amazing though how oblivious people can be as they blindly walked into the path of the wolves on the way to and from the arena.

We did a few meet and greets at the show, but several had to be cut short when the hunting dogs were in the arena with the horns going as the girls got very nervous.

Then it got to 17:30 in the afternoon and there was a free session to try climbing the poles. This year I was definitely up for it. I started off well and gave it a good shot - eventually getting to the top in about 1 minute and 45 seconds.

A very good personal achievement for me, especially as I do not like heights!

When six o'clock came it was time for the show to shut down and the crowds subsided.
At 18:30 John brought the trailer round and then took the wolves back to the farm for the evening.

On my way out of the show I found out something very interesting about Milk from most cows. Due to the content of a protein called beta casein A1 it can give rise to heart disease in men, insulin dependent diabetes in children and it has also been linked to Autism. Most of the studies into this have been done in New Zealand and more information can be found from the A2 Corporation or by putting 'beta casein a1' into most search engines.

All in all, an excellent and most enjoyable day.