Thursday 10th of March Fizz and I boarded the bus from the car Park to the NEC Halls both dressed in our Therapy Dogs Nationwide uniform of black and yellow. Fizz was wearing a yellow jacket and matching lead and I had on a polo shirt hoodie and black trousers. Fizz traveled in her small open fronted dog pram and we made our way to the Therapy Dogs Nationwide stand which was in a good position near to Discover Dogs and the Media Centre.
Right from the beginning the stand was busy. Fizz was one of the smaller volunteers (she is volunteer number 1001) and was surrounded by other volunteers all sorts of breeds and mixed breeds. The smallest was a tiny chihuahua and the largest a simply enormous Leonberger. I think there were 14 different dogs on the stand all ready to represent the charity. Their owners were a very friendly bunch and had come from all over the country. We made sure we could look after each others’ dogs enabling loo and coffee breaks to take place.
Fizz had been to Crufts before but this was a whole different ball game. It was very noisy on the stand. There were lots of children some unaccompanied and all very excited to be there. As we were near the media center there was lots of noise from the speakers. The brief was to engage with the public and there was no difficulty in fulfilling that one. There were times when I was concerned that Fizz could be overwhelmed especially as people were inclined to just lift her out of her pram even though I was holding her lead. Her pram is a godsend as she can sit it it and be on a level with people rather than have them looming over her. We use it whenever we are visiting Care Homes and also when we come to shows. Fizz is very attached to her buggy and I find it handy too as I can slip my belongings under the cushion.
Lots and lots of photos were taken of Fizz by visitors and at times I felt as if she was a film star in the making. Being a Bolognese she looked beautiful and everyone wanted to stroke and cuddle her. Some people became very emotional talking about their dogs and of course most had never heard of a Bolognese breed so that was a good talking point. I sent a lot of interested people to the Bolognese stand at Discover Dogs and some returned to say how much they had enjoyed meeting the team there.
There were some memorable moments on the day. At one point Fizz sat ever so quietly for at least 20 mins on the lap of a wheelchair using veteran with PTSD. She also gently licked the hand of a young woman with lots and lots of piercings and tattoos who confided she had severe mental health problems and didn’t like talking to people but she wanted to know all about Fizz. Twice we took part in the parade and Fizz was brilliant the first time she had to walk with me round the ring whilst the public watched and then stand still whilst people from the audience came and petted her. Second time around she was tired but still enjoyed it.
Fizz’s breeder Jane came to visit us and I think she was impressed when she saw Fizz in action. We managed to leave at 5pm with lots of happy memories. We were both exhausted and slept together in our bed at Days Inn Warwick services from 8 till 8!