THEY say every dog has his day – and with this group, never has a saying been more true.
The Essex Dog Display Team is regarded as the best in the UK, with a range of astounding tricks and moves including running through fire encrusted hoops.
The group is the only civilian team ever to be selected to appear at the Royal Tournament and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in London.
But now the team is on the lookout for more dogs – with their dedicated owners – to help them through the busy 2014 season ahead.
The team of ten volunteers and their dogs travel to major events throughout the UK in a converted coach which includes air conditioned kennels.
Team director Roy Dyer said: “Even though the team has been established some 35 years, I am delighted to say our popularity has never waned.
“We still get more than 100 requests each year to attend events throughout Great Britain but, as we are all volunteers, we can only accept around 35 of them.
“Even then, people’s holidays and time off is important, so we need extra dog handlers to join the team.”
With more than 130 television appearances, 15 royal performances and countless major event attendances to their credit, they are regarded as the top dog display team in the UK, and they are the only civilian team ever to be selected to appear at the Royal Tournament and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in London.
In addition to the display team, the group, based in Brentwood, offers training for dog owners who want to learn how to handle their dogs and have fun at the same time. It also provides vital help for children who have cynophobia, a chronic fear of dogs.
Andy Block, 57, of Peldon Pavement, Basildon, has been a trainer with the team for nine years.
Andy, who has two dogs of his own, said: “I started going to the team when I took on a rescue German shepherd and went there to learn how to train him.
“I then spent years with the display team and then became an instructor.
“It’s not about us training your dog, but teaching you to train your dog in a way it understands.”
Landscape gardener Dan Vowles, from Chadwell St Mary, who has three dogs, has been with the team for five years. He said: “It’s a fun hobby that gives us all a great opportunity to show what our dog can do and at the same time promote responsible dog ownership and attend some super events.”
Senior dog handler Rosie Bridgeman, from Chelmsford, who has more than ten years’ service with the dog team, added: “It really is great fun for dogs and handlers. Experience is not necessary, but dedication and presentation is very important, as is getting on well with people.”
Any breed of dog is welcome, trained or untrained. Even if you haven’t got a dog, there is still a role in the team for the right person.
Anyone can try out for the team, either as a dog handler or an equipment person, if they have most weekends free between April and September and are aged between 14 and 65.
There are no fees and all equipment and training is provided.
For more details, call 01277 375131 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the team at their Doddinghurst Road training centre in Brentwood.