Welcome to our blog!


Just a few of the great photos of dogs at Soham (taken by Emma Hindson).

Soham Trial, Sunday 11th August
Judge: Rebekah Watkins

There is no doubt that conditions were a little tricky on Sunday with the significant wind. Lots of dogs were more ‘enthusiastic’! Some were spooked and others less than enthusiastic. Of course there were those who simply didn’t notice. Despite this, the enjoyment of completing rounds with your dogs was widely evident, with a lot of positive encouragement from handler to dog. I love to see this. 

Comments were made in the walk round about various signs that I included, having been points mentioned from the previous trial. I do like to see the outcomes of a bit of training and careful handling and everyone showed care with the call front. I was also pleased to see the quality of the 270 where the shape and flow of the station was achieved with dog and handler at the same time. 

This was not so evident in the pivot which was on the right hand side. In fact, a lot of you had trouble with positions on the right-hand side. This was most noticeable in the pivot and especially so in the level 2 side step. Stopping a couple of paces before the sign doesn’t allow you enough room to support the movement forward to allow your dog to have the space to get into position. Also doing a shallow side step reduced the possibility for your dog coming to heel in position. 

Although there was a lot of luring going on, I was pleased to see that for most this was a deliberate choice to insist the dog completed the task given. You chose to lose a point rather than not complete a station. 

Watch out for the level 1 signs. Watching your level 1 circle was very ‘interesting’. The shape is a circle, rather than an overly large squashed doughnut. Whilst I am a total fan of doughnuts, they are not the right shape and don’t help you achieve a neat movement which flows straight on to the next station.

Overall I was very pleased with the relationships between dog and handler. That was shown best in the cones. Even Jane Hughes sailed through every one as if she was a confident professional. However, Baci completely shamed himself by performing his trade mark roles, right on top of my signs! Troy, on the other hand demonstrated how fabulous he is. 

Best rounds of the day came from Rae with Gracie and Judy with May. In fact, the veterans showed their experience, producing quality, careful movements, whilst hobbling; groaning as they sat and moving at their own pace. I just loved watching Wilf staring adoringly up at Emma the whole way round and jumping – literally a couple of times – straight to her every command with such enthusiasm. It is always such a pleasure to watch Emma with Zara as well. Emma is clearly a skilled trainer and handler but she has a beautiful relationship with both of her dogs. I was impressed by Lindsay Evans with her two Collies. Following the unfortunate elimination in the ring in his morning rounds, they both sailed around the course in the afternoon like skilled professionals. Lindsay also achieved her level 2 Championship which was richly deserved. 

It is always such a privilege to hand out titles, Championships and AOEs. Jenny achieved a Veteran level 2 Championship with Keira. They have noting left to work for now, having achieved all awards at all levels. A huge congratulations to this team.

My most entertaining round of the day goes to Heather and Caley. The wind, the rattling of canopies and the sound of the llamas proved just too much. Zoomies around the ring were the order of the day and she certainly was enthusiastic doing them. Heather is very used to this from Caley so she achieved a flow mark for waiting it out and then confidently got her back to business. The crowds loved her puppy-like larks. It reminds us of what TDR is all about.

Finchdean Trial Report-Jacky

Tanya’s right, it was indeed a hot one! Despite this we both judged some superb rounds, some humorous rounds and some rounds that handlers may wish to forget!
Our newbies did themselves proud. Tanya has already mentioned David and his two talented boys Chaz and J.J. Lynne and Maggie also achieved two Aces, as did Jane and Rosie; I wish that I had performed this well when I was a newbie! The beautiful Goldie, Casper, worked well for Alan who achieved a Good in the morning followed by an Ace in the afternoon. Two people handle puppy Cavapoo Sweep and this was his first time in the ring with his mum. Safe to say that Deirdre was thrilled to score an Outstanding with her boy. Little Wesley bounced around the ring with Sian and scored an incredible 203; this is sure to be a team to watch in the future. The newbie that stole my heart was, without doubt, the handsome Comet who decided that he would interpret the course in his own special way! Keep up the training Holly; he’s a cracking boy.

It was a special moment for me to once again judge Gill Woolgar whose previous dog Millie captured all of our hearts and set an extremely high standard in TDR. Gill’s new dog, Molly, has come a long way from the nervous girl she was and has blossomed into a confident dog that clearly enjoys working. She scored a 208 and a 209 in her first two Rally rounds; we look forward to her scoring a Perfect 210 very soon. Talking about Perfect 210, well done Barbara and Karrieanne; well deserved!

A big thanks goes to Jacky, Frances, all of the Armchair Pets Team and The George. You really do create a friendly welcoming environment and are wonderful hosts.

Risby Trial Report-Rebekah Watkins

Level 1

Steve Carpenter has to be noted for the most patience ever displayed. Harry was definitely making Steve work for it! It is highly frustrating watching a stubborn Goldie, who – when he decides to work well – effortlessly and gracefully completes a station with gleeful excitement. Harry aside, there really were some lovely rounds with perhaps more confident handling skills than in some of the Level 2 rounds. It was great to see the development of the partnership between Dawn Ager and Sherlock. Confidence is such an important factor and it really does get communicated to the dog. One aspect that I noted was the call front (in the stand in front of the handler), followed by a finish. There are two aspects to this station. The dog needs to clearly come to front, standing in front of you very briefly (a tiny pause), before moving to left/right finish. It shouldn’t leave a judge wondering if the dog actually stood in front of you, rather than arriving around the front area of the handler and straight to the side. Don’t forget that – as partners – all aspects of a station are to be done together. This was a common problem on the pivot. However, it was great to see so many of you do the side-step the correct way; the heel work and the relaxed way partners worked together. Although Steve definitely topped the table with the patience factor, patience from handler to dog was very noticeable in this Level. Finally, well done for using treats and praise to motivate your dog. 


We had some experienced handlers in this little group. I love to see handlers enjoying the puppy round, having fun with their youngster the whole way around. It is a class that we should all watch when we can, to remind us how much fun it should be for a partnership. It was great to see an experienced handler like Heather Preston, working with her lurcher puppy, using the expert handling that she has built working with the lovely Caley. Just to assure you all that Steve really is a good handler, he worked the Cavapoo, Sweep, beautifully around this course and showed off a partnership that benefitted so much from his patient, skilled relationship.

Level 2

Ironically, this seemed to be the group with the least confidence, and yet generally performed well. Even Jane managed to negotiate ‘Jane’s cones’– as they are now affectionately known – with Troy, which has to be one of the biggest achievements of the day. Unfortunately she wasn’t so fortunate with Baci’s overall performance as he decided to do some tricks for us, one of which was to lie dead. Although the nerves were on display, I was delighted with the confident and happy manner in which Lindsay Evans and Reef managed their round. Everyone had a good go at one of the least enjoyed station – Level 2 slalom – and most succeeded. A tip for everyone to take from Barabara Taylor: when things are not working, or too many points are being lost, cut those losses and move on but without beating yourself up and letting it impact on the next few stations. It happens to the best handlers. In fact it can be a sign of a great handler, to be tactical about how to managed difficult situations. 

Pre-Level 2

This was a really good round to judge. There was a mix of experience in this round with a lot of confident handlers. When questions needed asking – or in Barabara’s case informing me how mean I was to include the nasty version of the slalom – they did so with confidence. The judge willingly answers your questions and it is best to ask the judge rather than other handlers, even if they are just as experienced, or more so, than the judge. Barbara Taylor absolutely shone with gorgeous CKCS Jamie. Both were so happy and keen thus giving me an easy round to judge, whilst Jamie showed just how sweet tempered a boy he is as he payed joyful attention to Barbara’s effortless handling. There were a lot of lovely skills shown off by the majority of this class. Despite the moans about the slalom – obviously a station that I need to keep in future rounds to allow lots of skill to develop – this was a very well achieved station because the handlers were positive and used praise to great effect. Just watch out for those level 1 stations. These need practising as much as any higher level signs because they are the foundation skills.

Veteran Level 2

This level included some of the most slick and experienced handlers. All of the dogs showed their age in some way: slowness, a little less quick to comply (that stubbornness aspect that comes to us all in our middle to later age!), selective hearing…. What these handlers all had in common was the solid partnership. Judy Richardson knows that a little firmer command is required on occasion but praises quietly and manages her pace to suit May. She is one of the most skilled handlers I know as she helps her dog to achieve by making communication so clear. Jenny Bowden is also a great handler to observe. She is very confident, calm and moves with a sense of pace even if actually going slowly. She also pays great attention to every sign and is very careful in the way that she completes the level 1 stations so that she earns the core points. One of our more noticeable handlers (praises Labrador Gracie extremely enthusiastically, especially with the dog circles) Rae Watkins, gave us a very fluid round with plenty to celebrate. What all of these handlers had in common was careful focus on the movements needed for each aspect of a station and this was particularly shown with the pivot where all handlers and dogs moved together. Sometimes the ‘oldies’ and their partners are great teachers to the rest of us.

Judges’ Reports – Tanya & Rhia Butler 

What a busy couple of months it’s been on the TD calendar – and we wouldn’t want it any other way!! Three Trials in June saw us yo-yo-ing up and down the A3 and A11 and we loved every second of it.

Risby 22/23rd June 
Once again, we were delighted to be invited to judge by Lucy Dawson at Risby Village Hall. Sadly, work commitments dictated that we were unable to join the pre-Trial dinner on Friday evening, but early Saturday morning roads were kind to us, and we arrived in good time to set up. It was lovely to see such happy dogs and their handlers, and the standard of work was great. The ‘most improved’ award must go to Sherlock and Dawn – we know first hand how hard Dawn has worked with Sherlock and the results are there for all to see. It’s wonderful to see them now regularly picking up red rosettes – the future is definitely looking rosy for this team! The weather was hot (maybe not quite as hot as last year, but certainly not far off!) and the dogs coped admirably. Special mention should also go to Bacci, who certainly did not like the heat, but still came out to keep his human Jane happy! 

Tanya & Rhia 

Paws in the Paddock, IOW 29th June 
Thank you to Helen Bull and Tracy Bull for inviting us to judge on our favourite Island yet again. A last minute venue change is the last thing a host wishes to deal with and yet, despite booking a venue over a year prior to the Trial, this is what poor Helen and her team were faced with, through no fault of their own. Fortunately, the event was moved to Rookley Cricket Ground, which certainly did not detract from its success in any way – the beautiful, green, well-manicured grass of the cricket field posed no problems for the dogs or their handlers…… and the weather was glorious…… well, glorious in that ‘blooming hell, its hotter than hot thing in the oven’ sort of way!! From Tanya, a special thank you to those wonderful people who helped out by scribing – Sian, Sonia, Jenny M and Rhia, who stepped in to help out when I couldn’t move my arm, thank you so much. 

Despite the heat, there were some cracking rounds and the standard was exceptional. Particularly standing out for me were Laura and her beautiful Khan and Beau who struggled through the heat and still came out to play – well done boys! 

Tanya & Rhia 

Finchdean 13th July 

Back down the A3 again to the wonderful Finchdean venue – a pub, happy days. Thank you to Jacky Burden and her team for inviting me to judge (Rhia letting me fly solo for this one to have a well-deserved day off!). Once again it was hot, hot, HOT, but for the most part, the dogs and handlers coped well. Fortunes were mixed and it was very clear that there was a smelly ring and a not-so-smelly ring, fortunately I drew the latter. Poor Harry travelled all the way from Kent with his devoted human Steve, but Harry did succumb to the heat and really did not want to play today – now, I know Harry very well and he certainly was not his best today, but I think he just likes to keep Steve in his place and remind him who is really in charge sometimes….. good work, Harry! 

It was lovely to see some new faces too, and they came out with some cracking rounds. David and his beautiful boys, JJ and Chaz, were very impressive and definitely teams to watch in the future, but the stand-out for me was the evident delight shown by both dogs, but Chaz in particular. His tail did not stop wagging and he watched David with absolute devotion and even when Dad got it wrong and got flustered, a quick ‘good boy’ immediately had the tail wagging and the smile back on Chaz’s face – absolutely priceless and so lovely to see. 

A particular mention to the wonderful Karrieanne, who came over from IOW with her mum Barbara…… now I have been judging this team for many years now but this time they pulled it out of the bag in a spectacular way, but despite many times of knocking on the door they haven’t quite made it to the 210 (I’ve lost count of the 209’s I’ve awarded them). It gave me immense pleasure to award a perfect 210 to Barbara and Karrieanne on Saturday after a truly beautiful round which truly demonstrated the ethos of rally – a team of one handler and their dog, flowing around a course in perfect harmony.

Tanya Butler 

We would like to thank each and every one of you for your continued support for TD Rally and our Trial Hosts – without you, our weekends would not be anywhere near such great fun! 

Tanya & Rhia 


Talking Dogs Rally®

Amendments to The Official Talking Dogs Rally® Manual 4thEdition

Rules and Regulations by Pam Mackinnon

Amendments by Jacky Ruddock

Page 10- Finding your level

There is no longer Level 1A and 1B. This is replaced with Level 1 which is for all dogs 1 year and older on the date of the trial.

Veteran levels are for dogs 7 years and over on the date of the trial.

Veteran Pre-Level 2 and Veteran Level 2- is for handlers who have already won a TD Rally® Level 1 Title or Championship.

It is not compulsory to have entered Veteran Level 1.

Page 11- Learning TD Rally

We no longer have a Twitter page.

Page 19

The 10-minute maximum round time has been removed. There is no longer a maximum time but a judge may ask a team to leave the ring if this is felt to be in the best interest of the dog.

Page 23/4- Feedback

Permitted rewards

Judges like to see dogs working happily and being rewarded for their efforts. Rewards are encouraged at all levels of work.

Puppy Level-physical (touch, stroke), toys and food are allowed at any time during the round without penalty.

All other levels– Over half of the stations excluding bonuses have a stationary element. Food and toy rewards are allowed without penalty after any stationary elementof a station. (If there is more than one stationary element in a station, rewards may be given after each element). Food and toy rewards on the move will be marked as extra rewards.

Physical praise-(touch or stroke) is permitted at any time during the round.

Verbal praiseis encouraged throughout the round.

Rounds should flow and handlers should be aware when rewarding their dogs that points may be lost for significant interruption of flow

Page 35-Course Design

Jump heights– In the case of a tiny dog the judge may lower the jump height for safety reasons.

Trial Entries

I recently requested opinions about the suggestion of increasing the amount of classes that a team can enter in one day from 2 to 3. I am grateful to all who took the time to reply of which there were over 150 of you!

These were just some of the reasons given to support the suggestion:

  • The opportunity to enter more classes would encourage people to travel further to enter trials, particularly those handlers with just 1 dog.
  • Hosts would be able to fill spaces in classes.
  • Some competitors and dogs are willing and able to work more than 2 classes per day.
  • Handlers are able to judge their individual dog’s capabilities.

These were some of the reasons given against the suggestion:

  • Even though they may have the physical capability to, some dogs are not mentally and emotionally able to work more than 2 classes per day.
  • We hope that handlers can judge what their dogs are able and happy to do but there are times when handlers are eager to work but their dogs are not happy to. Handlers sometimes become stressed rushing from class to class and dogs are not allowed enough rest and down time.
  • Some trials fill up very quickly. Spaces may be quickly filled by fewer people, particularly those with multiple dogs.


There were significantly more respondents who did not support an increase in classes.

After discussion with judges and careful consideration of the points raised, I have decided that it is in the best interest of all if we limit the amount of entries per team to 2 per day. This is in the true spirit of TD Rally® which puts the wellbeing of the dog at the heart of every decision.

The Way Forward

Several people made some really useful suggestions that hosts may wish to consider and TD will support.

  • Introduction of a ‘Have-a-Go’ Ring if space permits. This would enable all to train/reward/practice in a relaxed manner. Perhaps hosts could have a bucket and handlers pay £1 for a turn. 
  • Introduction of fun classes such as Rally Relay, Team Rally etc. Remember when we did this at the Spring Fling? Hosts can be imaginative! Please discuss ideas with TD Office for approval.
  • Fun classes could be entered on the day or booked ahead of time. THESE WOULD NOT BE INCLUDED IN THE 2 CLASSES PER DAY LIMIT. 
  • No fee would be payable to TD Office for fun classes.

I hope that you understand my reasons for this decision.

Jacky Ruddock

 Rule Amendments for Trial Hosts

Class Fees

The current system for calculating class fees has, in the past, led to confusion and disagreement. I have spent time juggling figures and, in order to make it fair to all regardless of the size of trial and number of classes, the fees will currently be calculated at 50p per entry

Therefore for a trial with 40 entries -£20 and a trial with 180 entries- £90

This will hopefully be easier to calculate and encourage hosts to schedule a wide range of classes to cater for all.

The Trial Registration Fee should be submitted with the Trial Application Form but the Class fees can be paid either before or straight after the Trial.

Judges’ Travel Expenses

Our judges do a fantastic job but often have to travel long distances and fund a night or two in a local B and B in order to attend a trial. At the current time a judge can apply to TD for a mileage allowance towardstravel expenses.  This is a huge drain on TD and frequently means that the organisation runs at a loss. In the future, hosts will be expected to-

  • Check with the particular judge prior to appointment whether she will require a travel allowance. Not all judges claim. 
  • Add a small sum to each entry fee to cover this- suggest 50p per entry. Pop this money into an envelope and hand to the judge on the day.
  • A judge will understand that a small trial will not be able to fund her full mileage and can apply to T.D for a top-up if required.
  • Hosts very generously give gifts to judges, which, whilst appreciated, are not, expected, particularly if the judge has claimed mileage. 
  • If the host feels unable to fund mileage she should approach an alternative judge. Jacky will advise further if no other judge is available.

In the pipeline- what I’m doing!

  • Currently in the process of training new judges to add to our limited pool.
  • Finalising a Veteran L3 Class that will be up and running in 2020.
  • Looking beyond- Level 4? A work in progress

Any questions and comments please speak/e-mail me. Look forward to hearing from you all!

All the best,


Blog and photos from IOW Trial 8/9 June ’19

What wonderful times we shared on the Isle of Wight last weekend. I was seriously concerned that I wasn’t going to make it over on the Saturday 5 a.m. ferry as the wind blew and waves lashed the harbour. The weather made it a tricky day for the dogs who had to cope with flapping ring plastic, periodic heavy gusts of wind and a judge in a strange woolly hat! In contrast Sunday was a beautiful day, the shorts were on and spectators sat around clapping teams as they worked.

I’m always impressed by the standard of work on the island and this weekend didn’t disappoint.  We really do have all shapes and sizes of dog compete ranging from Chihuahuas to Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and a Tibetan Mastiff. There were some great rounds, particularly from those fairly new to the sport, Sue with Nelson, Jacqui with Stan and Helen and Maggie all Titled at L1 and impressively all gained AOEs. I was particularly impressed by Lisa working her gorgeous Labradors, Rocco and Finlay. Lisa is such a kind gentle handler and her calmness results in consistently Ace results with her boys. 

We had 4 Perfect scores- I think that may be a record! Congratulations to-

Jenny and Bob at L2

Ruth and Cassie at PL2

Sonya and Edward at L1 and Sonya and Dibladob at Puppy Level.

Welcome to Kristy and her Spanish Water Dog, Quinn who only registered with TD a couple of weeks ago and had a successful weekend culminating in a Puppy Title. 

My final mention must go to the little Whippet-X, Rumble and her handler, Deborah. What a fantastic little dog; everyone loved watching her carefully prancing her way around the course. She certainly charmed this judge!

My usual thanks to Barbara, Tessa and the team who work so hard to make everyone feel comfortable and extremely welcome. You really do an amazing job and I always return home a couple of pounds heavier! See you all in September if not before.

Report from Judge Amie Bedlington Trial 28 April 2019 (Photo on our front page)!

It was with some apprehension that I made the journey North to Bedlington. Although I had stepped in to judge at the last minute at the Risby trial in February, this was my first official judging appointment; but I needn’t have worried because Cris and the Ruff Diamond teams made me feel very welcome. Everything was ready when I arrived at their indoor venue, so all I had to do was set out my course.Both the morning and afternoon rounds were of high quality and it was clear to see just how much everyone had been practising in preparation for the trial. In particular, the pivots were spot on. Both those who had competed before and the first timers did themselves proud. One round that really stands out was with Georgina and Nelson, who took teamwork to the next level. Arriving at the 270 Left, Georgina looked at Nelson, Nelson looked at Georgina, both confused. After a small amount of flapping, they decided it was best just to move on. A good decision! Other rounds that stood out were Jane and Edric’s because despite being a shy boy, Jane supported him to gain an Ace in each of their rounds, and Katie with Rory, who were competing for the first time and did a great job. Most of the stations were pretty bang on, with only the pace stations needing some work. I know that while it might seem to the handler that they are slowing down or speeding up, when watching the dogs, that wasn’t always the case. I was pleased to be able to present so many rosettes, including two Level 1 Champs to Emma with both of her dogs Wilf and Zara. Huge thanks to Cris and her helpers for running such a well organised trial. I look forward to coming back, and hopefully awarding Cris with the Ace Perfect that she just missed out on this time!

What a great way to start 2019 – in January we registered our 1000th dog!

Tilly is a 1 year old Labrador who lives on the Isle of Wight. She is now TD Rally® royalty, so make sure to say hi to her and her handler Vivienne when you are lucky enough to meet them at trials and events.

Risby Trial

Our first trial of the year was held in Risby at the start of February. Hosted by Lucy Dawson and ably assisted by so many wonderful and selfless helpers. Their dedication was put to the test when judges Tanya and Rhia, after judging on Day 1, had to rush home for a family emergency. Without hesitation, three judges who were at the trial to compete, immediately stepped in to cover the classes on day 2. Amie, Jacky and Rebekah were the heroes of the day and we are all so grateful for their support. 
Held indoors – no freezing February rounds – everyone had a great weekend. Dogs and handlers did themselves proud, setting up a super successful 2019 season.

A few of the competitors and judge Jacky


The season has started, but not everyone has paid their fees yet. No fee = no official rounds. If you slip through the net and do compete without having paid your fee, your round will not count towards any awards. These fees are crucial to help fund our sport. Without them we can’t run TD Rally®, so thank you to everyone who continues to support us. We couldn’t do it without you!

If you are still to pay please contact Jacky for further details.

Talking Dogs Rally®is a registered trademark.