Karen Menter – Southern Golden Retriever Society Display Team
Who are the Southern Golden Retriever Society (SGRS) Display Team?
The team consists of 16 golden retrievers and handlers performing obedience routines to music.
How did you get involved in your demonstration/discipline?
Over 20 years ago I started training at the SGRS obedience classes and obtained my Kennel Club Good Citizen Scheme Gold Award. I wanted to carry on training as did seven others, so we started to put together obedience moves to music. This was the start of the display team. After being invited to perform at a local village fete by one of the members, we became known in Kent, where we are based, and the invitations grew, as did the team. We increased to 12 then 16 performers with a squad of around 22 goldens. We were invited to Discover Dogs in 2003 and to Crufts in 2004 and have performed at each event every year since.
What are you most looking forward to at Discover Dogs?
The team love coming to Discover Dogs. We love entertaining the audiences and meeting the public to talk to parents and their children about responsible dog ownership. I also enjoy the variety of shopping and meeting so many different breeds of dogs and talking to their owners.
What advice would you give to someone looking to join your demonstration/discipline?
To join the team your dog must be trained to The Kennel Club Good Citizen Scheme Gold standard. It must also have the right temperament and be relaxed when strangers want to pet it. New handlers and dogs are required initially to watch training sessions and then take part, sharing with an experienced handler and dog. The pair then have to attend many small events before graduating to the bigger shows. It is quite a long apprenticeship, but we want the dogs to become used to crowded and noisy environments, such as Discover Dogs and Crufts. The dogs have to be steady but mistakes do happen- they are dogs after all!
Handlers have to be committed to the team. We train for two hours a week for 10 months of the year in any weather. They also have to be available for the many events at which we are asked to perform.
Belonging to the display team is a wonderful way of forming a very special relationship with your dog and sharing many different adventures.