December 12 2013 Latest news:
Monday, August 19, 2013
Rebellious Martham hound Foley was rejected as a guide dog for breaking the rules.
His new owner Pauline Homer thought he was a reformed character after discovering a talent for agility contests, clearing jumps and dashing around slaloms.
But it was not long until his mischievous streak emerged again, and the trigger was an ice cream van.
For Foley refuses to accept he has finished an agility course until he has been served a vanilla cone at the counter.
“I think it must have been two or three years ago when he started, and it just got worse,” sighed Mrs Homer, of Grove Road, Martham. “When the ice cream van arrives they all say ‘oh no, where’s Foley?’
“He used to join the queue and would move up the queue with the people, but now he just butts in.
“He’s got such a reputation now that people come and get pictures of him.”
She said she is not with him when he does this, and he sits patiently on his own until he is given a freebie.
The retired school lab technician, 65, adopted the golden retriever as a 10-month-old pup.
Foley, now aged nine, had been rejected as a guide dog after trainers lost patience with him.
“Even when he was puppy-walked he wouldn’t wear the hi-vis nylon coat,” revealed Mrs Homer. “He would run and hide.
“When the harness was on him they thought they had it cracked, but he ran into the bushes and shook it off.
“They thought they’d use him for breeding but thought he’d pass his genes on.”
She said Foley is a “gentle giant”, and with a little coaxing took to agility competitions six years ago.
He barks his way around contests up and down the country and was the leading dog for a time.
But now he is fixated with frozen treats.
“The last show we went to the ice cream van didn’t turn up,” said Mrs Homer. “There was just a burger van so Foley queued up there instead.”
She said Foley did not understand why there was no ice cream, and staff even offered him a sausage.
“But then an ice cream van turned turned up,” she smiled.
This paper met Foley at Gorleston seafront, where he enjoyed a vanilla cone.
And while Mrs Homer said he was confused by the lack of an ice cream van, the whirr of the shop’s soft-scoop machine snapped him into action.
His next competition is the British Agility Association finals in Melton Mowbray next weekend, where he will compete in the graduate mini category.
And he is on a strict training regime at Beachside Agility Club, Great Yarmouth, to ensure he is in top form.
“The only ice cream he gets is at shows as he needs to be fit,” noted Mrs Homer, making an exception for his trip to Gorleston.
Mrs Homer owns four other dogs - golden retrievers Heidi and Ulric and Nova Scotias Eric and Hattie - but said none of them behave quite like Foley.
“They like ice cream but they don’t do what he does,” she said. “He’s just a character really.”