THIS month’s meeting was held on Tuesday March 10. Friends and family were invited to attend as we were expecting the Film Dogs but if there had been an error while filming then the dogs would have to act all over again. We were very lucky because everything had been a success.

Frances Stretton, the President, welcomed members and visitors and the meeting began with the singing of Jerusalem. We had an added extra to the singing with the sound of two or three tenors.

The dogs’ trainers and helpers brought display boards showing photographs of our entertainers in the various TV programmes they had been. A recent example was the rough, long haired dog in Poldark. All the animals in the market square scene cows, pigs, chickens goat rat and sheep belonged to the stunt animals.

The dogs are trained using the voice to begin with but then obey the hand signals. Lucky for Tory because he was stone deaf. Cracker’s favourite moves were relaxing flat on his “tum-tum” turning circles, sitting up, shaking hands, standing on his back legs and walking across the stage. On the command to lie down he was then told to stay while the trainer walked away Cracker then crawled towards her. He could also limp to the audience’s sound of Aaaaah! Sue took off her goody bag, turned to Cracker and on the command he jumped onto her front and remained there as she walked round the stage. Then she turned her back on him and he jumped again onto her back but he leant his head on her shoulder and stayed there comfortably relaxed as she walked round and as she changed direction so his head moved to her other shoulder. Again Aaaaah! But then we found out that Cracker was keeping an eye open for tit-bits.

Where do the dogs come from? Gill, the owner visits Battersea Dogs’ Home, sometimes there are owners who cannot afford to keep them or cannot cope (shut in for eight hours). Some dogs might be thought to be aggressive but in actual fact they are very nervous. Gill looks for foster families because he doesn’t want them to live in kennels. They groom, walk and keep them in good health. They don’t have any big bills everything is paid for eg. vets and food. The trainers look for dogs with possible training abilities. They stay with their owners but become trained stunt dogs.

Tory our first entertainer was Queen Victoria’s dog in Young Victoria. She wasn’t a very convincing “dead” dog because her tail kept wagging. This had to be adapted with a magic thread for the next take. She has been an advert for Winalot and had to shake her head flapping her long curly ears. She is also in the rain on the pier for the Foxy Bingo advert.

Now Razor was a beautiful three-and-a-half year-old German Shepherd dog. His owner was terminally ill and had to give up walking. Razor is always type cast eg. a police or security dog. Although he was so big he could perform all the stunts that the little dogs could do. His “piece de resistance” fetching a coloured plastic bucket in his mouth, putting it centre stage and (dare I say here) cocking his leg and of course aiming for the bucket. From the captured audience there was a mixture of Aaaaah! and appreciative laughter. There is a new trick to watch out for in Doc Martin when his peace before surgery is rudely interrupted by Cracker who decides he wants to read the paper too, or he doesn’t want Doc Martin to.

Margaret Dalton gave a vote of thanks to the dogs and their trainers for a most entertaining and interesting evening.

There was a break for refreshments followed by the rest of WI business relating to the various clubs. The walking group is now hoping that someone will volunteer to take the place of leading the walking group as Marlene Addy will be retiring. Members would like to thank Marlene for all she has done for the group showing them many places of interest which they possibly would not have seen otherwise. Watch this space for a replacement leader. Thank you Marlene.

The next meeting is an Open Meeting will held on Tuesday, April 14 in the village hall at 7.30pm. The subject is Hanging Baskets with Steven Felix from Blenheim Nurseries. The competition is – A garden in a dish.