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A Light Hearted Read

Light-hearted articles written for The Forest Magazine about Fun 4 All's growth and my own dogs.  Rupert's antics will make your laugh!


The Forest Magazine By Helen Taylor


No 1-  May 2010 


Welcome to the new dog page. Let the fun begin....... 


To introduce myself, I am Helen Taylor, owner & instructor of the ‘Fun 4 All Dog Club’ that I set up in 2008 with the valued help and support from friend, Sue Foster.


Some may have read about me in the Your Dog Magazine. I was one of three featured diarist published each month throughout 2009. It had been a memorable year to have in print.


It covered the planning, conception and growth of the club and the unforgettable antics of Ella my Labrador cross, Measles the very elegant blue merle Great Dane and my lovable rouge, but extremely naughty black Labrador, Rupert. He is on the whole is a pretty typical Labrador, however his lust for food has taken him to the very limit and his antics gained him his own fan club. The diary concluded in March when I met with the other Your Dog Magazine diarists at Crufts 2010 for the final photo shoot.


It was in spring 2009 I found myself looking for a new dog club that could offer a variety of non competitive fun activities. 


Sue and I both wanted it to be in a safe environment with a friendly, sociable and relaxed atmosphere. It was important to us the club didn't put competitive training first, as it had to be Fun and we meant for dogs and owners.


I had been an agility and basic obedience instructor for 3 years when I qualifying to become an ACAI Agility Club Approved Basic Instructor. 


With that under my belt I have begun to mould the Fun 4 All Dog Club into a club I always wanted.


Everyone is welcome, so don't be shy. Why not call today to find the right class for you and your dog? 




Having a fast dog is one thing, but if you are like me, running is too much of a challenge. Flyball as an ideal alternative, dogs of all sizes love it.


It involves running, jumping, retrieving; it’s motivating, fun, fast and interactive. It’s not only a great activity for dogs; it can also offer some excellent training opportunities.


SEND AWAY over the four small hurdles 


CONFIDENCE building to have courage to leave its owner


RECALL your dog, motivating it to run towards you. This is when you can call that very special word


COME so training can be fun after all


Don't worry if your dog isn't yet interest in a ball, you can start with its favourite toy or treat for motivation and with the netting barrier on either side of the hurdles it channels the dog keeping them focus.

Dog with ball
Happy dog
Another dog

The Forest Magazine by Helen Taylor

No 4  - August 2010 

A Dogs Birthday Bash & Birthday Cake!

Birthdays come and go every year and the same old quandary what to do.... a party, meal, night in or let it quietly pass by? Well, it was my ‘50 something’ Birthday this month and it was suggested that it was celebrated for a change.

What better excuse to have a ‘Dogs Birthday Bash’! With the permission to go ahead to use the Agility field at The Bulls Head, I set a simple a ‘puppy height’ safe course for both dogs and kids, ordered the soft drinks and sent out invites by text and email.

It turned out to be a very memorable night with half a dozen children, 33 dogs and as many adults; it was a perfect way to celebrate.

All but a few dogs were off lead either being ‘taught’ by the kids to jump, running through the tunnels or chasing a ball. I caught out the corner of my eye Googie the miniature schnauzer, hopping discreetly over the jumps trying to look casual; I thought he secretly really wanted to run the whole course as fast as he could!

Julia’s little girl Katie was sternly telling Labrador Wispa to sit on the A-frame whilst Great Dane, Zara who thinks she’s a Jack Russell; runs with Jasmine the Collie, Labradors Phizz, &Toby, Gracie the English Pointer and young Tilly the Saluki cross chasing the ball franticly being thrown by Michael. Meanwhile in the ‘adults’ corner, the very sweet, but shy rescue dog called Noodles finds her feet attracting the males. She had the full attention of ‘ready if you are’ Retrievers Pendle and Brambly, Jack-y boy and not forgetting to mention the small but very handsome Dylan Dog. He was being very vocally shouted at to leave Noodles alone by his sister, Ruby Tuesday.

In the food and drinks area, you could see Ella ‘working’ everyone for a piece of cake or a treat she could wangle from them; of course, she never gets anything at home. She would very proudly tell you though, that Rupert taught her all the mugging tricks in his book; for that very reason Rupert wasn’t invited. Measles my beautiful...butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth (ha ha what a fib!) Great Dane, in the meantime, wander around like the perfect hostess.

The whole evening was a big hit and we all headed home dogged tired!

Have you ever considered having a celebration with a difference? 

If you want to have a dogs party please consider the safety aspect of having a group of dogs all interacting together. You may want to consider the dogs breed types, nature and their level of social skills beforehand. You can build up a dog group by asking your friends one by one to join you on a walk, bringing all your dogs together gradually. When you have a number of dogs out together, make sure all the owners help to manage the dogs within the group. Some dogs wander off, have poor recall or issues with bikes or joggers; its helps to keep the group in a relaxed social theme if you know you are all keeping an eye on each other’s dog. Stay together and support each other if problems arise and don’t forget to choose the most suitable place for a large group to walk without imposing on others.

What else has the Fun 4 All Dog Club been up to this month? 

We have been busy fund raising for the Animal Aid Centre at Huncote and for Marie Currie with a special Agility & Flyball event held at Staunton Harold. This was the first year for Jo Bland to arrange the sponsored walk and dog event; it was a great success.

Why not keep up to date on what’s happening, take a look every month at

Dog with tongue sticking out
A dog
Happy dog
Cute dog

The Forest Magazine by Helen Taylor

No 5  - September 2010 

Last month at the Dog Party shy little Noodles was attracting the males and adoring the attention..... well it was confirmed by the vet she was having a ‘silent season’. Owner Helen was delighted to have it confirmed so she could finally book her to be spayed.

Two weeks later at the Kids n’ Dogs Tuesday class Helen told me how concerned they were as Noodles had been quieter than usual. They spoke with the vet who knew she could be experiencing a ‘phantom pregnancy’, he warned them to watch her and bring her in if concerned. It was only three days later she was rushed into the theatre with pyometritis, a life-threatening condition for unsprayed female dogs.

Poor little Noodles she endured so much in her short little life. Found straying in the centre of Leicester early last year, obviously physically abused to the extent of having an untreated broken jaw, missing teeth and terrible psychological problems. A perfect description for Noodles as ‘the dog who didn’t dare to be a dog’; she didn’t know how to play or even relax, often just standing not daring to move. A year later with the love and support of her new family she now comes to our Monday morning Flyball social class. Noodles is now comfortable in the company of dogs and people; Helens the proudest moments were when Noodles took a treat from Jay at the Flyball box, going through the Agility tunnel and over a few jumps. 

So little Noodle's life has been saved again, even though she won’t have the same effect on the ‘boys’ at our next dog party later this month, when we celebrate two special events. The first anniversary of Fun 4 All Dog Club and our close friend Rachel Ball for gaining her BA Master Degree in philosophy....what better excuse can you have for another dog party! 

August was a busy month with the charity events we supported. Leicester Animal Aid is always fun at the August Annual Open Day. It’s an opportunity for the many rescued dogs go back proudly ‘showing off’ their new family and maybe even win a rosette or two from one of the many events.

Rainbows Osgathorpe Companion Dog show was the same weekend, so I didn’t even have to unload the equipment from the car. We took the new ‘up & under’ giant yellow tunnel...what a winner and great entertainment. We all enjoy watching the owners’ reaction when their dog succeeds at the ‘have a go’ fun Flyball and a few Agility jumps, some almost burst with pride.

August finished with the most exciting opportunity to appear with Measles and fellow Great Dane Zara on a new ITV afternoon show hosted by Michael Ball. It’s a 1-minute challenge of giant breed 22 sq ft! At the time of writing this article, we’d not actually recorded the show, so I’ll tell you all about it next month. You should be able to see it on iPlayer unless of course, it all ends up on the cutting room floor!!

I’m not sure what the producers are expecting but we’re planning for Zara, nicknamed ‘crazy-lady’ to do her usual whirlwind and Measles her ‘jellyfish’ imitation trick. If nothing else it should be hilarious, well it is an entertainment show.

Coming up next month 5th September we have ‘The Bulls Head Charity Companion Dog Show’ for two worthy causes; Air Ambulance and Leicester Animal Aid. Add it to your diary, come j

Dog's ready for play

The Forest Magazine

No 6 - October 2010 

What a fabulous experience it was to appear on Michael Ball’s new ITV afternoon show. Measles and I set off to the BBC London Studio’s with friends Sue and Julia with her Great Dane, Zara. Sue helped with the dogs and carried every treat known to man to keep the dogs on their best behaviour.

Michael was warm and friendly, he made you feel you have known him for years. It was evident he is a genuine dog lover by the way he greeted the dogs with such high exuberance. Our hearts shot to our mouths, we both took a sharp intake of breath and a quick look at each other knowing we’d had the same thoughts flash before us ‘oh my, what are they going to do to him?’. Sometimes you never quite know what they’ll do in a new environment. Will it be just a bit of extra slobber, or maybe fear would make them drop to the floor never to get up again; worse still, a nip or even try to run away dragging us flying behind them or the ultimate jump up to pin Michael to the floor to look him in the eye?

Oh well you just can’t help thinking of all the horrid things they could do and then bless them, they take you by surprise. Measles was fine in his company soaking up all the fuss and attention. I did omit to tell him you’re not allowed to stop fussing her until she’s ready! Zara proved to be the real star by not putting any one of her four paws wrong all day.

At 11am we had a rehearsal; it was the only opportunity to plan what equipment we could fit in to 22 square feet; what hadn’t planned for was the stage being on three different levels. Never mind like true professionals we managed produce the smallest Giant Breed Agility course every produced, we used 2 jumps, 1 set of 5 weaves, a wall and a table...perfect!

We spent the most of the day wondering around the set. We had our own dressing room and ‘runner’ to make sure we were in the right place at the right time. We thought she was new to the job because she wasn't very good at it. Not only did she lose us on many of occasions, she couldn’t find our dressing room.....poor girl. Mind you I had my own worries; I had the extra stress of when would Measles carry out her bodily functions, if you know what I mean. I didn't want Measles to appear every year in ‘it’ll be alright on the night’ I howl every time they show the episode of Blue Peter with the elephant doing what is natural. It was first shown in the late 60’s er..... not that I remember the first showing of the programme of course!

Anyway it all went well in the end. Measles had a short nervous jitter after knocking down a jump, but Zara was stunning and stormed home the clear winner. If you missed the programme and want to take a peek, it’s on my web site. It’s just a bit of fun, so no high expectations.

What else has been happening? The Bulls Head Charity Fun day & Dog show raised money for the Air Ambulance and Leicester Animal Aid. Fun 4 All Dog Club raised £50 for the Charities, so a big thank you to everyone who paid to have a go at our flyball and Agility.

Now autumn is on its way, we have to plan the changes to our evening classes. It will only be a few weeks before we move them into the weekend. Ideally we would like an indoor winter facilities for evening Agility classes. An indoor equestrian hall or similar would be ideal, please ring if you know of one who may be prepared to hire it out a couple of nights a week. We already have booked the Markfield Community Hall for Monday morning, Wednesday night and Ibstock Palace Hall on Sunday afternoons for Rally and fun classes. As always Agility and Flyball are the hardest hit in winter.

The Forest Magazine By Helen Taylor

No 7 - November 2010 

Agility, Flyball, Rally Obedience, Home Boarding and now we have.........

‘Fun Activities, Clicker Tricks and Life Skills’ classes at The Markfield Community Centre every Monday morning and Wednesday nights. So what does all that mean? Well, have you ever wondered how a small clicker box that produces a loud sharp, audible sound would help your dog with his everyday life skills or on the agility field?

The first step is for your dog to understand what the clicker can produce for him. The best type of reward is a food treat such as sausage, cheese, liver-cake etc. If your dog isn't food-orientated then a toy, a short burst of play or a positive verbal or physical contact is just as rewarding as any tasty treat. The next stage is for your dog to understand what he has to do, to make that ‘magic’ clicker box give out the audible sound to get his reward.

This is when it can become a challenge for the owner to watch, wait, handle the treats and click the clicker at the precise time, little pooch gives you the wanted behaviour! It’s fun learning new skills and you’d be surprised how tiring it can be for your dog, not to mention satisfying from getting all the yummy treats!

So what’s planned for these new classes? Well, Wednesday night I went armed with a bag full of clickers and cards of ‘how to dog tricks’ to hand outs; so any trick would be possible with time and patience. At the end of the class, I set the group a challenge to practice at home for the next week, each dog had to learn a new trick.... a bow; leg weaving, target disc and target stick training.

Unfortunately the group didn’t let me escape from a challenge; so I had to teach Ella to stand with her two front paws on a stool and move her back legs around circling the stool. Eh, that will be interesting for Ella my superfast agility girlie; still, I know we’ll both have fun learning together. Over the next few weeks we will introduce using a clicker for a ‘solid’ agility weave for rhythm and entry, Click to Rally Obedience, Heelwork and even a bit of fun with Temptation Ally and Musical Sits!

The nights have drawn ready for the clocks to fall back an hour. This marks the end of our outdoor night classes until next spring, but the weekend Agility and flyball classes continue whilst the weather and land conditions permit. The grass is already prepared for winter with a ‘stylish longer than usual haircut’, even the moles have been asked to move to new quarters with the installation of the environmentally friendly mole scarier. We moved all our fencing and equipment to a field that weathers really well in wet conditions. We like to keep the classes going for as long as possible mainly for the dogs, so if the weather turns horrid at the last minute...we just go for a walk instead!

Before we know where we are, Christmas will be here ‘jingle bells all the way’ to skiing holidays and thoughts of next year’s summer breaks. When you commit to having a dog in your household, it can be a dilemma, what do you do when you go away? Of course, if you are like me you forego holidays abroad and take to a ‘pet-friendly ‘UK holiday instead. I have my favourite places where the beaches are quiet, long and sandy. I've listed a few on the website in the links page

I suppose if you don’t take your dog with you or you don’t have a friend to help out; two other options are Kennels or Home Boarding. If using a kennel in the winter please do check out what provisions they have in place and ask what actions they take, if like last year, the temperature drops to -10˚.

Home Boarding is a ‘home from home’ service offered by many private householders and budding dog walking businesses. Again make sure you are happy with the arrangements, ask to visit the home and meet with the person who will be responsible for your dog; this is a criteria for a License in North West Leicester District area where I live. Also, ask to see a valid Pet Business Insurance; you will have to sign giving permission for your dog to be off lead for most policies. If you are satisfied that your dog will be on his holiday, you’ll certainly enjoy yours. 

The Forest Magazine by Helen Taylor

No 9 - January 2011 

When the unexpected happens, what contingency plans do you have for your dog? 

The first year of our club has been thrilling, exciting and rewarding, but I've already had to make a few new plans and adjustments for the club this year. You don’t have to worry though, the fun activity Agility/Flyball based classes will continue in the week at the Markfield Community Centre and The Bulls Head, Abbotts Oak every weekend. Why have I had to make the changes? Well for a short stay in hospital for a non-life threatening but necessary operation; meaning 6/8 weeks of restrictions with the ability to work, drive and even worse.....walk my dogs.

When you live alone you have no option but to start making plans as soon as the appointment arrives. Then like a ton of bricks falling from the sky, it hit me......who can cope with my dogs, each with their peculiarities?

Let’s see we have 56 kilos of Great Dane called Measles. Described as having long legs like Kate Moss, awkward if not impossible to fit in a standard car but good for running....usually away from you! She can be nervous with others; as difficult as any teenage child and when outside of her comfort safety zone a quivering mass of jelly. Mind you when told off or not allowed her way, she has perfected the art of sulking and looks good enough to have drawn daggers!

Then we have standing in just his fur coat, 34 kilos of Labrador called Rupert, Rupert, Rupert. Why three times? Well, it takes a while for the penny to drop that you are calling him! He is either the loveable rouge or your worst nightmare depending on what he is doing at the time. He is 11 years old on his next birthday, but don’t be fooled into thinking he‘s getting old. He can run like a rocket and has brilliant memory skills, but only when food is concerned; oh I should also include determination, you need that for hunting a lost even crumb or two.

Mind you he has excellent manners he’ll always say thank you. He’ll flop down on top of your chest; taking nearly all your breath away and pinning you down whilst he licks you within an inch of your life...just to show his appreciation. Ah bless him, he is a happy soul.

Finally Ella a Labrador cross GSD; highly intelligent, obedient, well-balanced and socially acceptable within just about, every circle; no worried where she is concerned just give her a couple of balls and she’ll be happy!

Friend Sue came to my rescue. Sue started a few weeks beforehand to walk and train with Measles, but unfortunately, it was pretty hopeless she didn't like ‘going alone’, Measles that is.....not Sue!

Next, she tried taking Ella with them on a walk, although Ella was no trouble whatsoever, Measles was still uncertain as to why she leaving me. Never mind Sue’s happy she’d cope and did say they walked well on lead. Phew, I was glad to hear her say that, it’s no easy feat for a woman of Sue’s slight build to walk two big dogs, especially when they’re not your own.

Then in addition to Sue's immediate daily help, the weekend group of walking friends have offered to ‘somehow’ squeeze Measles and company in their cars for a good couple of hours of good walking every weekend. Rachel and Della have also offered to do their bit over Christmas and up until I could cope alone again...I can feel the stress melting away except for Rupert, Rupert, Rupert. During my first few days back home; I just couldn't afford the big heavy ‘sweet lump’ jumping on me

The plan I had up my sleeve for him was a short stay away, but his bag wasn't packed ready for a boarding kennel stay, I arranged his ‘holiday’ to Neil and Lara; Max and Foxy owners. He’d stayed with them for a couple of days before and I couldn't quite make out who had more fun; but he was a great entertainer apparently!

They welcomed him back and even looked forward to his antics, so with that final weight off my shoulders, I’ll be able to cope better with my own discomfort and difficulties.

Do you need to have a plan of action for your pets in case of emergency? Why not speak to family and friends about what you would want to happen? You could even write it down, include contact phone numbers and you could leave a copy in your home and car. Your emergency plans could even include your preferred choice of Boarding Kennel or Home Boarder for your pet.

I don’t have to worry this time about my trip to the hospital, but it has certainly prompted me to have plans in place should I have an emergency in the future.

Next time....did it all go to plan? I’ll let you know on 8 December 2010 The Forest Magazine

The dogs have enjoyed autumn, now it is tinsel; turkey and Christmas party treat time.

We've seen the autumn come and go; what a grand time it was too. The leaves turned a rich golden brown before falling to create that gorgeous thick crisp and crunchy carpet; you just can’t seem to help kicking or shuffling through them as you go, but before you know it, the leaves have turned to crisp cold snow!

Well before we talk about Christmas party plans let me update you on the indoor evening classes. The classes at Markfield Community Hall on Monday mornings and Wednesday evenings have been a great success. So much so we now have a Tuesday night class at the Woodhouse Eaves Village Hall. With the purchase of suitable carpeting, the transportable agility equipment is packed into the van each week. The dogs and handlers are working on their techniques using the clicker method for achieving rhythm, entry and speed through the Weaves. Then we use the small Flyball Jumps which are perfect to train and reinforce a solid consistent wait, before teaching the dogs to go ahead of the handler.

I have made a mini Dog Walk, which is placed on the floor to teach contact training. The dogs have to learn to pause for a split second on the white ‘up & down’ areas of a Dog Walk; on a full size Dog Walk many dogs either jump over or off to the side on these contact areas. I also take a Tunnel to join up the equipment to make a small course.

When working the dogs on an indoor mini course the main aim is for the dogs to focus and understand how to be successful on each piece of equipment, so speed is not allowed. They’re also trained to break habits of being handler focused or being lured with a treat around or on equipment. The clicker helps to allow the dog to have time to think ‘what is required of them’ to get a reward.

This may all sound serious and technical, but we are a Fun 4 All Dog Club and believe me that is what we do.... plenty of fun and laughs along the way plus a bit of help and support to each other.

Talking of Fun; It's Christmas Party Time and we’re all set for fun and games at The Markfield Community Centre, inviting all dogs past and present from the Club.

Naughty boy Labrador Rupert is the judge for the dog's fancy dress, so the bigger the treat bag the more chance they have of winning! Great Dane Measles is Santa Paws, she will be delivering the presents and prizes. My lovable Ella May Lab cross, no doubt will show off her latest mugging skills or her touch targeting to earn her treats.

The plans are in place for Tinsel Jumps, Musical Sits then finishing with Tunnel n’ Turkey; ha ha without a doubt bringing a tear or two with laughter.

So all that is left is to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year....perhaps you will come join the fun with us at in 2011

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