Committee | BCDS

The British Carriage Dog Society Committee

Joy Claxton


Joy is a British Driving Society Judge and examiner and Riding for the Disabled (driving) instructor and examiner. She is co-author and illustrator of two carriage-driving books. As a child during the war, Joy remembers seeing a Dalmatian running under a gig and it was love at first sight for horse, carriage and dog but she had to wait until she was an adult working with carriage horses before she was able to own and train a dog for axle work. Three of Joy’s dogs have all distinguished themselves working in shows, demonstration and film work. Two of them were problem two and half year olds that Joy took in and turned them into biddable companions. Joy has now been a passionate Dalmatian owner for 45 years and continues to give enthusiastic support and advice about the traditional role and training of the carriage dog.

Mike Cleland


I have been involved with dogs all my life as my family owned many different breeds but for the last thirty years Dalmatians have had the starring role starting with the lovely Cassie. My involvement with the Society came in 2000/2001 when Alison Wright came to talk to me about the possibility of running a Carriage Dog Trial, she had recently been to a trial in the USA and wanted to start something in the UK, from that moment I have been extremely involved and am now a Vice President of the Society. I took part in the trials as a groom handler originally with Gunner starting in 2007 and more recently have worked with Dixie to obtain the Bronze & Silver carriage dog awards and the Gold Certificate. It has been interesting to work with different drivers over this time. I served for a while on the British Dalmatian Club committee and for Dalmatian Welfare. My judging career started in the nineties and I now award K.C. Challenge Certificates in Dalmatians. It was an honour in 2019 to be asked to judge our breed at the BCDS national trials, working so naturally with horse and carriage.

Chris Cleland


Together with my husband Mike, we have owned Dalmatians since 1984, having bred three litters and had dogs at stud, today Ozzy and Dixie share our home.

I have been involved with the Carriage Dog Trials from the outset, having been Secretary for a number of years, I am now honoured to be a Vice President.

I competed in the obedience only for the first time in Scotland in 2006 with my dog Fonzi, later that year he went on to achieve his Bronze Carriage Dog award.

Since then I have trained Ozzy with the carriage, he holds Bronze & Silver Carriage Dog award and Gold Certificate Carriage Dog.

I was invited to judge the Regional Trials in Wiltshire and in 2017had the honour of judging the Nationals.

I have always enjoyed taking part in different events with my dogs, both Ozzy and Dixie are Gold Kennel Club Good Citizens, I took part in the Dashing Dalmatians display team at Paws in the Park, and have been delighted to be able to give the commentary at numerous displays for the Society.

I have been Secretary of Eastbourne & District Canine Society for a number of years, running Ringcraft, seminars and shows.

I cannot imagine life without my spotty companions.

Fiona Hartley


Fiona has owned Dalmatians since 1962, since that date she has shown her dogs both locally & nationally, she has judged at Championship level on a number of occasions and has had the honour of judging the breed at Crufts.

She has served on the North of England Dalmatian Club for a long while and is currently the President.

She served as our Treasurer for a number of years and has also taken an Instinct Test with one of her Dalmatians.

She lists her interests as, family and local history, wildlife, gardening and local conservation amongst others.


Miranda Purves


I have ridden and driven ponies and horses for many years and have owned a variety of dogs, and now greatly enjoy being able to drive with my Dalmatians and take part in Carriage Dog Trials.  I have driven in club classes with a single and a pair of ponies, and have also driven in National Driving Trials with a Welsh pony and Fell ponies, back-stepped for pairs and teams of ponies and gained my Tandem Club bars with one Fell and one Welsh pony.  I qualified my first carriage dog Splash (Plentycoups Sapphire) up to Gold Carriage Dog level, and am now working with Buttons (Doshaburi The Flowing River) who has already gained her Bronze award.  I have previously been Secretary of The Great Western Harness Club and am now Chairman of The Shepway Harness Club, am an RDA Carriage Driving Coach with the Cobbes Meadow Group, an assessor for RDA carriage driving and the Regional Carriage Driving Representative for the south-east RDA – so am a sucker for punishment. 

Miranda driving a pair of her Fells to enable her Dalmatian Splash to display her talent at Paws in the Park in Kent in 2009.

Liesel Thorner


I have owned and showed Dalmatians since 2008, with this breed being my first experience of the dog fancy. I have always had at least one canine companion from the age of six months at my side, Border Collies, English Springer Spaniels and now Dalmatians who I have found to be my canine soul mates.

From a farming family that showed cattle for many years, I found myself hooked on the canine show scene after my first open show and after a few years exhibiting at dogs shows I then discovered the British Carriage Dog Society. Now along with enjoying our dog showing hobby, I spend much of my spare time training and working my Dalmatians in their historical role as carriage dogs which both they and I enjoy immensely. I have trained both my girls Molly and Marcy to Bronze Carriage Dog level and both are trained to Silver with Molly successfully competing and passing the award in 2018. Molly has also passed her Carriage Dog Gold certificate. Our youngest Mona is beginning her carriage dog journey and will hopefully progress to a fully-fledged carriage dog in time.

Training a carriage dog in a groom handler situation means being a groom to your drivers (whips). When you are on the back of the carriage, you may have a dog running behind but your first responsibility is to the whip and their horse, so having an appropriately trained Dalmatian is paramount.

I have always been involved with horses, but never previously involved with horses and carriages and training my Dalmatians has also taken me into the Carriage Driving disciplines. Developing the Groom/Backstepper role has been great fun and I now backstep regularly for one of our local volunteer drivers at driving trials. I run training sessions in the Somerset and Dorset area for both more experienced Dalmatians and those that are new to the working role and want to learn the “art” of being a carriage dog. Watching a dog develop their skills from their initial experience to competing at their first trials is a sight to see and I always look forward to our training days.

If you would like to have more information about the work of the British Carriage Dog Society, find out about training your Dalmatian or become a member of the society, then please get in touch.

Fay Moffat-Roberts


I came across the British Carriage Dog Society in September 2010, while I was attending a local agricultural show.  They were doing a display with Dalmatians running behind the carriages.  I had brought along my first Dalmatian to the show, and naturally wanted to know more, and so I enquired about what they were doing. 

My first involvement with the society was volunteering as a Steward at the National Carriage Dog Trails in 2011.  By stewarding, I could find out what was involved, meet the members of the society and find out if this is something that I could participate in.

I have rehomed 3 Dalmatians with various temperaments, with my current Dalmatian being Deaf.  I have taken part in various training activities with my own Dalmatians, but unfortunately they were too old to actually take part in the National Trials.  However, a friend of mine allowed me to compete at the trials with their dogs.  People who know me, understand that I am up for a challenge!  I am truly grateful for my friend allowing me the opportunity, otherwise I would have to wait a long time before competing with my own dog.

I was planning to compete my deaf Dalmatian in the Bronze Certificate in 2018, however, I decided to do it on lead – meaning that I would not be able to qualify, as I did not pass the obedience section off lead.  This didn’t matter as we had a great time regardless.

I like the idea that Dalmatians are able to work as their breeding intended.  What better way to enjoy a day out, with our four legged friends, with likeminded people.

I am also the newsletter editor, we would all love to hear what you have been doing with your Dalmatians, ponies and horses so please feel free to share your stories with us.  If writing is not your thing, are there any questions or topics you would like to be included in the next issue?

Please contact me via email:

Debbie Morgan

​Membershiop Secretary

We got our first Dalmatian Sophie about 25 years ago after visiting Discover Dogs at Crufts. We are very lucky to live near the Malvern Hills so have lots of lovely walks on our door step. I took Sophie to training classes where she passed her Bronze, Silver and Gold Good Citizen Tests, we also competed in Agility to quite a high standard. We added Holly to our family she alllso managed to get her Bronze Good Citizen she also competed at agility she was not quite as reliable as her sister,Holly had a go at showing she managed to get her stud book no so qualified for life at Crufts. I found out about the The British Carriage Dog Society when we had Rosie,she took to it so well that this year she passed her Silver Test, we hope to do Gold next year, Rosie has also done very well in the show world gaining 4Best Puppies in show,6 Reserve CC’s and has just got her first Best Veteran in Breed. Two years ago Rosie had puppies we kept a little girl called Jenna,who has just started her training to become a Carriage Dog, at the moment she is also learning agility to help her concentration, which she absolutely loves. It is the best thing to see your Dalmatian working behind the carriage and they absolutely love it.

Sue Wilkinson

Dogs have always played an important part in my life I grew up with a Wire Fox Terrier, a Pembroke Corgi and a variety of mongrels. We bought our first Dalmatian in 1978 and the following year started to show, a decision I have never regretted, I have made many wonderful friends and had much pleasure from my dogs. In 1991 I bought an Irish Wolfhound and as with many breeds they are addictive and soon more followed they blend well with the Dalmatians. I have bred both Dalmatians and Wolfhounds and the resulting offspring have given me great joy. My judging career started with Dalmatians in 1988 at a local open show and I awarded Challenge Certificates for the first time in 1998 and have been fortunate enough to have judged at this level on ten occasions in the UK. I also judge Irish Wolfhounds at Championship shows officiating at this level five times so far, I also judge groups and best in show at open show level. It has been my good fortune to judge Dalmatians in Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Italy and Denmark and Irish Wolfhounds in Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Austria and Canada. I have enjoyed these appointments very much. The Administrative side of dog showing has always appealed to me and I was Secretary of Southampton Canine Association for 26 years. I am a member of Windsor Championship dog show committee and responsible for the co-ordination of the trade stands. I am a District Representative for the British Dalmatian club and was Rescue secretary for the Irish Wolfhound club for two years. I enjoy judging and I love showing my dogs, and at present I am showing successfully my current Dalmatian Heidi but also do carriage dog training with her as well. I started carriage training in 2016 just as something different to showing, I was convinced Heidi would trip up the pony, or disappear into the wide blue yonder. To my surprise she is a natural, has an excellent pace and mostly follows the carriage. There is one problem, she is not obedient in the stay, hopefully we can work on this and one day she may take part in the trials. My professional life has always been to work in public libraries, which means not that you are just knowledgeable about books and literature, but you need great people skills. I currently work a few hours for the School Library Service. My mantra has always been that my dogs are firstly my beloved companions.

Alison Wright

Horses and dogs have been a large part of my life, and in my teens I fell in love with the Dalmatian breed. Although I owned other breeds, it was not until many years later, as a keen carriage driver, I fulfilled my ambition to own one. After reading a chapter in Patches Silverstone’s book “Dalmatians Today” about Road Trials in America, I decided these trials of obedience and endurance for working Dalmatians just had to come to the UK. After visiting Washington Dalmatian Club in 2002 to shadow the organisers I began to make plans. In 2003, with a wonderful group of fellow enthusiasts, the inaugural Carriage Dog Trial was staged. Since that time I have been involved organising, competing and judging in nearly all of the national and regional trials that have taken place. It was an honour to help run the inaugural Swedish trial and judge at the first Scottish (2006), and Irish trials (2010), as well as the Fenix National championships. My dogs were involved in many carriage dog demonstrations. For a display at Paws in the Park I trained my first carriage dog Woody to bark and “see off” a highway man. I have qualified all four of my Dalmatians as road and carriage dogs and in 2006 was proud to be in the first group of people to qualify at gold level. I have won the championship in both carriage and road discipline, but more important to me is the fact my animals have consistently been awarded, and short listed for, the best conditioned awards. These coveted awards show not only that the dog or horse has been correctly conditioned for the competition, but also received the highest standards of care on the day. My involvement with carriage and road dogs drew me further into the canine world, and in 2009 Wheelgates Dog Training and Behaviour was formed. I enrolled on the Kennel Club Accreditation Scheme working towards accreditation, and I was encouraged to develop a specialist module for Carriage Dogs. At Crufts in 2013 I was thrilled to be awarded my advanced accreditation as the first ever “Carriage Dog Specialist”. I continue to enjoy not only the carriage dog world but many different canine activities, particularly training assistance dogs for DogA.I.D. In 2017, I took a break from the BCDS committee, but I am delighted to return and look forward to serving the membership promoting the Dalmatian’s working heritage. There is nothing more thrilling than watching Dalmatians and their owners as they enjoy this experience together.