Ellie Beach - the champion schoolgirl dog trainer from Burton-in-Kendal

Ellie and Elsa

Ellie and Elsa - Credit: Emily Rothery

She used to have an imaginary dog, but now a schoolgirl from Burton-in-Kendal is proving to be a big hit with the real things.

Ellie Beach with some of the rosettes she has won

Ellie Beach with some of the rosettes she has won - Credit: Emily Rothery

A south Lakeland youngster is making quite a name for herself for winning canine companions. At just 12-years-old, Ellie Beach has an impressive record when it comes to qualifying for prestigious events, and her large collection of colourful rosettes and awards are testament to her skills and dedication.

Ellie has had successes at Crufts, national breed shows and the Young Kennel Club events, to name but a few. She has competed at Crufts for the past five years and proudly tells me that she won first place in the Good Citizen Dog Scheme category two years ago with her lively little Lancashire Heeler called Angus.

Ellie is an enthusiastic member of the Young Kennel Club which unites dog lovers aged six to 24 through competitions, dog training and fun activities. Ellie's mum Nina explains: 'Through the club Ellie recently came first in the YKC obedience competition with Elsa, our six-year-old Rottweiler which meant she qualified for the 2019 Crufts. She did really well, coming in fourth place, especially as she had just turned 12 and was one of the youngest in her group. She also came in sixth place in agility with Angus.'

'Agilty is definitely my favourite,' says Ellie who is also a member of the Lune Valley Dog Training Club.

Ellie Beach with Wallace, Elsa, Izzy and Angus

Ellie Beach with Wallace, Elsa, Izzy and Angus - Credit: Emily Rothery

Nina adds: 'As a 2019 Crufts qualifier she was invited onto the team GB squad days which involved agility and jumping rounds. Judges then picked the highest scorers to go through onto the GB agility team and although Ellie didn't get through, she has ambitions to try again when her third dog, working cocker spaniel Izzy, is old enough to compete.'

Naturally quiet and reserved, Ellie's passion shines through as she demonstrates dog agility at their home near Burton in Kendal. It's a fast sport which involves directing the dog through a course of obstacles including jumps, tunnels, beams and weave poles and is judged on both time and accuracy. Ellie is focused and animated and the dogs quickly tune in to her instructions. Angus runs determinedly on short legs, clearing the jumps and coming back for more while Elsa is raring to go and clears the higher jumps with ease.

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There may seem to be a world of difference between the pint-sized Heeler and larger than life Rottweiler, but the two breeds have more in common than you might think which means they are well suited to the demands of the sport. Both breeds are regarded as being intelligent, versatile and courageous and both have been successfully used as drovers in the past. It is thought that Rottweilers were used as herding dogs by the Romans who took cattle with them as they marched on their campaigns. Later the town of Rottweil in Germany developed the breed as a drover's dog which could also act as a guard dog. They were also known to pull butchers' carts and safeguard cash in a pouch worn around their necks.

It is generally accepted that Lancashire Heelers are a cross between the Manchester Terrier and the Welsh corgi and originated when Welsh farmers used drovers to take their cattle to northern markets. The crafty canines would nip at the heels of the cattle and then instinctively duck away hence earning them the name of 'nip and duck dogs'.


Angus - Credit: Emily Rothery

Both breeds have determination and stamina although Ellie admits that headstrong Angus hasn't been the easiest dog to train. 'Elsa loves agility and is a really quick learner. She also loves food so she responds well to treats rewards whereas Angus sometimes wants to do his own thing and needs a lot of encouragement. He used to run out of the ring at first so I've had to work hard with him to get him to this level.'

Nina, who has been showing dogs for 23 years, smiles: 'I'm really proud of Ellie. She's been coming to dog shows with me since she was a baby and when she was about three, she would come with me while training and walk her pretend dog behind me.' Ellie's dogs are very much-loved family pets and include a fourth furry friend called Wallace but although he's a handsome three-year-old Rottweiler, he's is too laid back to compete in agility events. Wallace's talents lie in the showing events, but it seems that no one has yet told him that he's not a toy breed. When he spots a crowd he's liable to plop onto people's laps for a cuddle. He may not always win the competitions, but he is certainly a crowd pleaser.

Ellie's bond with her dogs is strong and she has worked hard to harness their energy and intelligence with a maturity that belies her age.

When asked about the future it comes as no surprise to learn that Ellie's ambitions include dogs. 'I'm looking forward to entering Izzy in agility contests when she is old enough to qualify. And when I'm older I would like to run boarding kennels with kennels, grassy areas and maybe even a swimming pool. I saw a film about kennels like that and it inspired me.'


Elsa - Credit: Emily Rothery

Not bad for a youngster who began life with an imaginary dog.