The idea for a Garden Party in aid of Dachshund Rescue came to me when I realised that there hadn't been anything in the North of England for about 25 years. The last being a Wire Haired Rally that was held at Jane Naylor's farm when my younger son Jason was about five years old (He is now 30 and he can't even remember going). Whenever I saw that the West of England was having any of their Fun Days, I was very jealous. So there was nothing else to be done, but try to see if I could do something similar.

To start the ball rolling, I put up notices at The Midland Dachshund Champ Show in October 1997. These asked the exhibitors whether they were interested and would support an event if it were organised. There was a good response with over 60 people signing the list. The next step was to decide on a day, preferably a Sunday, when there was no General Championship Show or Breed Club Show. The first date I thought of was 19th July, but then found that the Miniature Dachshund Club had a show on that day. It was therefore finalised as 12th July, even though it was the working and final day of SWKA.

Now came the hard work. How should it be run? A Garden Party seemed the best idea. Luckily, I have a large garden, and also, being only 1 mile from the M63 motorway in Stockport; would make access to the party easier for all.

The next stage was to decide what sort of stalls would be appropriate and Public Liability Insurance to arrange (I approached the Chairperson Elinor Powell (being Secretary & Treasurer myself) of Wilmslow & Alderley Canine Society who offered theirs). After much thought, it was decided that there would be stalls for Books, Cakes and Groceries, Plants and a Tombola. A variety of fund raising competitions were thought of, and with help from Liz Garlick (Long Haired), we came up with 'Find the Flea'. A large drawing of a Dachshund - (a Wire of course) - divided into 100 numbered squares. Each square would be sold for 1, bringing a possible total of 100. The winner finding the Flea would get the proceeds and the Rescue would get the other . The second was 'Name the Dachshund and Name the Pooch'. I had won the Dachshund draught excluder at the Eastern Dachshund show earlier in the year; and the Pooch - (looking rather like a Bearded Collie) - had been bought on a visit to the States in 1990 with my late husband. Names were thought of for both, a list was printed, and each name was to be sold for 20 pence. The person choosing the correct names for each won the dogs. The third was 'Guess the Weight of the Heaviest Fish in the Pond'- (a Silver Ghost Koi). Again a list with weights from 10 pounds to 14 pounds, selling at 10 pence each weight. The winner getting the weight would get and the Rescue the other . The fourth and last was 'Guess how Many Sweets in the Jar', the winner got the sweets; I managed to get 211 into a large jar.

The Book-Stall was well stocked with about 100 books from my own over stocked bookshelves plus others donated. The neighbours and many friends promised to bake for the Cake Stall. Groceries were also donated. The Plant Stall took shape from my own acquisition of a new greenhouse and splitting of many perennials in the garden, cutting from shrubs and plug plants being potted on until big enough to sell.

Jason designed the tickets. On the back of each, was printed a map (scanned from the local A - Z) with directions from the nearest motorway exit to the venue. There was still much to be done. The Tombola drum was borrowed from the local ringcraft class. The tables for the stalls from a local hall used for dog shows. Plates for the Buffet from our local pub and nearer the great day supplies for the buffet and refreshments were also purchased. Road signs had to be made and put up, as the local authority decided to close part of the route from the motorway for extensive remodelling. The M63 motorway was renumbered M60 as part of the new orbital motorway around Manchester. I had so much pleasure making the road signs from cardboard (gleaned from B & Q) in the shape of all coats of dachshunds (courtesy of Ian Seath's templates).

By now everyone was being asked to pray for decent weather on the day. But in the event of bad weather, I had purchased two awnings and a garden gazebo for shelter over the stalls. Helpers for the stalls were asked to give their time. Tickets were advertised and started to sell. Notices went up in every possible place that we could think of. At every show I attended, all local vets, pet shops, the office window, in cars, local community centres and shop windows. I was determined that any and all breeds would be welcome, (being honorary dachshunds for the day). Now that all the planning had been completed, we just had to wait for THE DAY.

On Friday I cut the lawns and checked the flower beds, surrounded the pond with the patio plants, (to stop would be canine bathers), put up the road signs, only to find on Saturday morning many had disappeared (probably taken by revellers on their way home from the pub). On Saturday my older son Sean and his wife arrived from London to help, bringing with them two friends. By this time I was up to my eyes baking and generally getting rather worked up.

Sunday dawned, HELP! THE DAY HAD ARRIVED. Fuzz had come into season and was duly transported to a kind neighbour's house for the day. The garden had to be set up, the kitchen window removed for access to refreshments and all before 11.30 for the first arrivals. Of course it was practically impossible to separate young bodies from mattresses. When everyone was up and getting on with their various jobs, mother frequently being told in no uncertain manner, to count to ten and take deep breaths, the job was done.

The entrance table set up under next doors carport and Betty Shaw (CKCS) swathed in a thick rug in situ. We were open for business. At first the rain held off, but about 12.30 it was coming down in torrents. One of the awnings decided to take flight, was retrieved and lashed to the top of the pergola, where Nora Townsend had her doggy duvets. Umbrellas were much in evidence, as well as wet weather gear. But everyone seemed to be getting into the spirit of enjoying themselves. There were plenty of Dachshunds, a Lowchen, a Pug, two Standard Poodles, a GSD, Sheltie and quite a few Heinz to boot. Most of the dogs were able to run free, as the garden is completely secure. The soaking wet Lowchen (with a couple of CC's) and Pug (Winner of the Toy Group at Manchester '98) were racing round the Monkey-Puzzle tree, much to everyone's amusement. At 1pm the Buffet was served, consisting of cold meats, quiches and a variety of salad dishes; followed by apple or cherry pie and cream. The buffet and refreshments were expertly run by Charlotte Walsh (Charlian Maremmas) helped by Nicola. The Cake and Plant stalls were selling out fast, the books more slowly. The Tombola had to be put on hold while the tickets in the drum were dried out with the aid of a hairdryer. But soon restarted with some wonderful prizes. Val Skinner donated a beautiful indoor water ornament; others donated included a new 75 wristwatch, many bottles of good wine, PetsMart donated four extending leads.

By 2.30 the sun was out and Daft and Dotty Games for dogs and humans were played on the bottom lawn. These included The Longest Dog, (Dachshunds and others), The Best Six Legs (Judge to be blindfolded), Musical Chairs (All six legs to be off the ground), Chair Weaving race, and a Football Relay race (dog + owner + ball down the field in any way). Prizes for all who took part, chews for the dogs and lollipops for the humans. Spectators singing supplied the musical rendition. The largest fish was duly fished out of the pond and weighed in at fourteen pounds four ounces. The competitions were finalised and winners given their prizes. By 5pm most were getting ready to leave after a very enjoyable day.

When all the visitors had gone, it was time to tidy up, count the money and wend a weary way home for the helpers. A few remained to toast the success of the day, which had raised 300.13 for Dachshund Rescue.

The Event will be run again next year, God willing, when we hope the weather will be kinder and more will attend to enjoy our Northern hospitality. I thank ALL my helpers and all the guests in making this a memorable day.

Sue Johnson & Family and the SUMOJO Wire Haired Dachshunds.