Dozens of dog owners and their pets took part in a fun day with a Christmas theme.
Members of the Huddersfield branch of the British Association of German Shepherd Dogs (BAGSD) were out in force for their weekly meeting at Bradley Mills Cricket Club – with some of the animals sporting fancy dress for the festive season. There was also a “Secret Santa” session with the dogs sniffing out a present each from a pile of wrapped gifts.
The branch, which was formed in 1963 and has been meeting at the cricket club venue for more than 30 years, has 120 members. As well as a chance for the owners to socialise, the get-togethers include dog training sessions for canines aged 12 weeks and up, led by qualified instructors.
Branch committee member Nikki Bromley said: “We have some members who want train their dogs to be obedient – to sit nicely, come when called and become nice, steady dogs.
“Some of the members enter their dogs for obedience competitions around the country. Our president, Margaret Fisher-Garside is a German Shepherd judge and has won trophies with her dogs in the obedience section at Crufts.”
Nikki and husband Richard, who is branch publicity officer, have two German Shepherds of their own, two-year-old Skye, who they had had since she was a pup, and six-year-old Narla, who was a rescue dog and has been with the Emley family for about five years.
Nikki said: “Narla had not been badly treated by her former owners, she just hadn’t received enough attention.
“I don’t think she had ever been out of the garden or on a lead. When we got her, it took two hours to do a five minute walk because she was trying to go back and get off the lead.
“The biggest thing was that she did not know how to play, even when he got Skye. You could see she wanted to play, but she didn’t know how to initiate it.”
Nikki said the branch was keen to encourage other owners of German Shepherds to join, especially if they had issues with training.
Richard said that while Narla looked fierce, she was “a big softie” who would roll over to have her tummy tickled.
Nikki added: “German Shepherds have a bit of a bad reputation, but if you look at the dogs – even those trained to be police dogs or for security firms or the army – when you love them they are the most loyal breed of dog around. They will lay down their lives for you.”
BAGSD, based in Birmingham, has more than 40 branches, of which Huddersfield is one of the largest
For more information about joining the branch, contact branch secretary Dawn Sutcliffe on 07943 126345 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.