2008 Seminar report


The picturesque countryside surrounding the village of Shirland near Alfreton in Derbyshire, has played host to The Neapolitan Mastiff Club on several occasions, and Club Members are no strangers to this Venue having attended Shirland Village Hall for our last Seminar and our first Breed Open show in 2004, and our second Open show in 2005. The Venue, although deemed too small for subsequent shows, was the perfect place to host our Breed Specific Seminar & KC Accredited Hands On Assessment 2008 and, we are grateful to the Venue's Committee for allowing us to host our event here.

The Club Committee and Catering Team arrived at Shirland Village Hall bright and early and set to work on preparing the hall for our Breed specimens and our Seminar attendees. Our Guest Speaker and Club Chairman, was utilising a lap-top for a power-point presentation he had designed, which was to be projected onto a large screen, purchased for this purpose, enabling attendees to not only see but, to follow the lectures in presentation format. With tables & chairs prominently positioned with dog mats laid-down the central isle, Club Trophies and Memorabilia displayed, Merchandise made ready for perusal, at 9.30, the aroma of coffee and bacon was winding its way across the car-park and our Seminar attendees began to arrive.

Booking-in at Registration, all attendees were provided with a comprehensive Seminar Pack, corresponding to the morning & afternoon lectures and, The Neapolitan Mastiff Club Certificate of Attendance. Those attendees also participating as Candidates in: the Kennel Club Hands On Assessment, were added to the HOA Rota in preparation for the afternoon briefing. We are delighted to say that: of the Booking forms initially received from Club Members, Judges, and Breed enthusiasts, only 8 enthusiasts were unable to attend on the day and, with 50 Neapolitan Mastiff enthusiasts in attendance, we were over the moon with the interest generated in our beloved breed.

At 10.40 our Vice President: Keith Coleman, welcomed everyone to the venue, thanked all enthusiasts for attending our Breed Specific Seminar 2008, thanked the Committee for hosting the event, and introduced our Guest Speaker: Steve Cox, of Rayvonley Mastino.

The morning lecture - Understanding the Breed Standard: Steve provided detailed explanation of the requirements, clauses, and faults, of the Neapolitan Mastiff depicted in the KC Breed Standard, highlighting the KC final amendments to the interim Breed Standard and, drawing attention to some of the variations between the KC and FCI Standards. Several breed specimens were utilised to provide example of requirements, with explanation of the differential affects upon requirements of: age, lineage and sex. Questions were taken throughout the morning lecture as points were raised and problems of Judging posed and Judges grasped the finer details of our unique breed. Just before lunch everyone assembled on the car-park for a demonstration of movement and our breed specimens, bless their cottons, were put through their paces demonstrating walking, trotting and in some specimens pacing.

At 12.45 our Catering Team indicated that they were ready to serve lunch and everyone retired for a welcomed cooked lunch. Throughout the lunch break, video footage of our breed being Judged at Crufts 2008 was projected onto the big screen, Raffle tickets to win the framed £50 note went round one last time, and the hall seemed to be buzzing with conversation generated by the morning lecture. At 1.30 Dr Brian Hill, began his briefing for participating candidates of the KC Hands On Assessments, and each assessment was then conducted in a relaxed and informal manner in a private room next to the main hall.
At 1.40 Steve proceeded with the afternoon lecture - History, Health & Husbandry of The Neapolitan Mastiff. Drawing on information gained through the research Steve has undertaken independently throughout his 20 year passion for our breed, both here in the UK and in the mother-land, Italia, Steve's historical account was both informative and thought provoking.

As the lecture progressed toward breed health & husbandry and the questions posed were more poignant to Breed Club Health & Welfare Research and Health Screening, Steve invited the Club Secretary: Denise Bucknall, and Welfare Administrator: Jackie Bunn, onto the lecture podium and, as a panel of breed specialists, each specialising in a different area but with 40 years of combined knowledge & experience of the Neapolitan Mastiff under their belts, were able to provide enthusiasts with a clearer picture of breed health, and breed health issues relevant to the Neapolitan Mastiff in the UK, in the 21st Century.
Such was the volume of questions regarding health, soundness, and conformation, in relation to the requirements of the Breed Standard that, Judges were invited to conduct impromptu assessments. Utilising the KC code of practice for Judges and incorporating knowledge & understanding of the finer details of the Neapolitan Mastiff gathered at the Seminar, Judge Robin Searle, conducted a splendid assessment, explaining to everyone the procedure he was following, what he was looking for, what he found, and his overall impression of the Neapolitan Mastiff presented to him. It was one of those moments that couldn't have been better had it been pre-arranged, excellent!!.

By the time late afternoon coffee & cake was served by our Catering Team, the entire hall was once again buzzing with conversation, and as the afternoon came to a close with our Thank you's to all concerned, Dr Brian Hill informed us that, all 10 Candidates participating in the Hands On Assessments had received their KC Certificate for passing their assessment. What a result!

A Massive Thank you, to everyone who worked terribly hard to ensure that, The Neapolitan Mastiff Club - Breed Specific Seminar, was a huge success. A special thank you to our Guest Speaker Steve Cox, who must have surely been quite hoarse by the time he got home!. Our Catering Team Lorraine & Tom Simpson and Dawn Platts, who not only provided breakfast, lunch and afternoon pastries but, ensured that the tea & coffee flowed ALL DAY...what Stars!! Rick & Anita Bailey & Dalnarck Mastini, Mike Evans & Mandy Johnson & Makaevo Mastini, Richard & Emma Grimson handling the Rayvonley Mastini, Kev Berry & Drosdelnoch Mastini, and Andy Moss with a Rayvonley Bambino, who presented their Mastini as breed specimens for the morning and afternoon lectures, and who all behaved impeccably throughout, as did their dogs, He! He! Dr Brian Hill, our KC Accredited Trainer who provided his expertise on the day, assuring the pass rate of our Hands On Assessment Candidates and, ensured that all assessments were undertaken in a relaxed an informal manner. Jaq Bunn, Neapolitan Mastiff Welfare Administrator / Co-ordinator, whose in-put was invaluable even though poor Jaq was not expecting to be providing it, bless her!! Julie Morris for running around with raffle tickets, Dawn Walker who was looking forward to a relaxing day taking Mastino notes and ended up running the merchandise stand all day. And finally...our Thanks to all Mastino enthusiasts, breeders, exhibitors and Judges who supported our seminar with their bookings and reservations, and whose attendance and participation on the day, made all the planning and weeks of preparations Soooo worth while, Thank You All.