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The story of how the club started as told by Betty Tallentire...

It started about 1978/9. We had two dogs and we had some problems, one a serious recall problem that led to us losing the dog concerned in the end so we looked about for dog training classes. The nearest was Darlington but we couldn’t get on the night of the Obedience class so they suggested this new thing called Agility. It was only just being formed in those days. All the equipment was homemade and varied a great deal. After a few months John was hooked and started building his own equipment. The baby’s cot was dismantled to make jumps, an old swing frame supported the tyre. We acquired some old mining ducting (complete with dust) for tunnels, fortunately it was a warm summer so I could wear an old bathing costume while I was inside scrubbing it clean with the kids holding the hose pipe.

It was all good amateur fun in those days.

We kept the equipment in our back garden and carried it all over to the field at Woodside each time we wanted to practise. We got a few friends involved and other people passing by noticed what we were doing and we soon had a small group training. It soon became obvious that some basic obedience was needed before agility training could be effective, so we started a small class. As things continued to grow it was obvious we had to get organised.

A Dog Training Instructors Course was held annually then in Totnes, and is still going though at a different venue. Betty attended first in 1983 and after that BCDTC was officially formed. Training started in the community hall at Stainton Grove as most of the Church halls in town didn’t want anything to do with dogs. John went on the course in 1985 so the Club then had two Instructors. Over the years the Club has sent several other members on this course. As the Clubs reputation grew we were able to move Obedience training into town, first into the Congregational Church Hall and then into the Parish Hall where for many years we offered three levels of Classes – Beginners, Improvers and Advance. We also held Responsible Dog Handlers Tests for which we awarded certificates, an idea that has subsequently been taken up by the Kennel Club.

Agility competition began mainly as demonstrations at various country fairs throughout the country. Notably Lowther and Lartington. There were only about six big shows but one or two smaller demos here and there.
Competitions run by Clubs began in the early ‘80’s. BCDTC’s first was held on Glaxo sports field before the Sports Centre was built. We had sponsorship from Glaxovet and awarded an annual shield for the winner of an accumulator, one agility round and one jumping round. The first show was in 1985 and annually shows have been held ever since, two at Glaxo, five or six at Startforth Park and the rest at Pecknell.

Agility Training in the field at Woodside was threatened when the land was put forward for planning permission as building land so we looked around for an alternative venue. We saw this deserted wilderness at the back of the allotments on the Desmesnes, they had originally been four allotments but the condition of the soil was so bad nothing would grow and everyone had given up on them so the Council agreed that we could rent the area for training.

Everyone got together one weekend in August, we had the shoulder high weed growth taken off mechanically, then we got going with the hired rotavator, a lot of buckets for stone collecting and rakes for levelling. It took quite a long time and it never really got levelled but in the end we were able to through the grass seed around then sit back and watch the grass grow. We bought a container for the equipment, moved in the following spring, and the Dog Club had its own home.

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