MORE EXHIBITORS and their dogs have been rendered homeless by the floods on the Somerset Levels and in Surrey.
The house, new kennel block and gardens belonging to Malcolm and Julie Shovel of the Tiverstone English Springers have been flooded for a month, with roads into the village impassable.
Mrs Shovel said the water was now up to her neck and all the large household items they were unable to move our were floating.
"We just hope it doesn’t go any higher,” she said. "It’s already up about five of the stair steps.
"We can't go back now as it’s too dangerous and deep even in a dry suit. The oil tank has floated across the field so oil is everywhere. The whole of our area now looks like the sea with seagulls and swans making the most of it.
"We’ve had water in for four weeks so it could be damaging the house construction. We’ll only find out later whether it is beyond repair and will have to be pulled down.”
Fordbridge is now a ghost town as all the residents have had to leave.
"We’re in a holiday rental at the moment and the dogs are with our friends,” Mrs Shovel said. "Thank goodness Fran Glendinning and her partner Neil Elisha came and collected them as we didn't have the energy to take them anywhere. We’d stayed up in the beginning for two days and nights solidly using pumps and wet and dry vacuum cleaners to keep the water controlled. But we couldn't keep on top of it and it was coming up through the floor all around us.
"For two days the dogs lived in the kennel and car; the puppies slept upstairs and we had to carry them up, as the water at this stage was four inches or so and we didn't want them walking through it.”
To add to the couple’s agony their nine-year-old bitch, Tiverstone Dreammaker (Millie), who was doing well in veteran, died a week ago, possibly as a result of ingesting bacteria from the floodwater.
"That was just about enough to finish us off,” Mrs Shovel said. "Her body closed down, possibly because of the bacteria in the flood water or possibly because of blood clot. We’ll never know. It broke my heart. I’m so desperate to get the dogs back. Neil and Fran are brilliant to have them but I need them with me.
"Trying to find accommodation for us is bad enough but to find somewhere which also takes dogs is impossible. I spoke to a letting agency today and when I said we breed and show and needed somewhere the dogs could also come she laughed, I put the phone down at this point. I had explained the reason we needed somewhere for us and the dogs.
"I think we’ll need to get a caravan or mobile home as it’s the only way we can be together.”
English Springer exhibitors Wendy Walker (Dexbenella), Jacky Mitchell (Peasblossom) and Amanda Sullivan (Flourenn) have organised an online collection which is raising funds to help the couple, and another fundraising exercise is being planned for the near future by Ms Glendinning (Plaiglen) and Kay Woodward (Wadeson) in the form of an online auction.
Mrs Shovel said she was very grateful to people who have contributed to the fundraising campaigns
"People have been so generous it’s unbelievable,” she said.
DOG WORLD’s Affenpinscher breed note writer Toni Teasdale and her dogs have had to leave their home in Weybridge, Surrey. Most of her dogs are in kennels and she is staying with a neighbour whose house is on higher ground, although her husband Neil is still in the house with a few dogs.
"The narrow bridge I have to cross to reach our house is a raging torrent, with strong currents either side as the river, normally flowing beneath the bridge, is bypassing it on each side,” she said.
"Yesterday I managed to get two of the Beardies brought out by boat. I walked them for a couple of hours and now they are staying with a very kind friend. I was not allowed in the boat with the two men to fetch them but the dogs accepted the situation calmly – being taken by complete strangers under very difficult circumstances. Naturally, they were delighted when they saw me as well as the other neighbours waiting at the water’s edge for their arrival!”
Mr Teasdale is still at home with an elderly Bearded Collie and a few Affenpinschers.
"While the veranda is still clear of water he’s happy to keep the dogs with him, but if it rises over that area the fire and rescue service can bring the remainder of the dogs out,” Mrs Teasdale said.
"I’m grateful to so many people who have offered help and are helping both the dogs and us humans. The friends with whom I am staying are amazed at the number of calls I have had from dog people willing to help and not just those in the local area.”