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Frog Rock's Bessie falls
for Lurgashall's Chudleigh

By ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia
 

Chudleigh and some friends
Chudleigh (third from left) and some friends

Bewitched by the magic of the Internet, Bessie, a happy-go-lucky blue heeler Australian cattle dog living at Frog Rock, in the Central West of New South Wales, has fallen hopelessly in love with Chudleigh, an aristocratic black dog who's the mascot of talented English artist Jacquie Lawson's multi-million-dollar e-card enterprise.

"That pommy dog Chudleigh is my knight in shining armour," she confided to her closest human friend, my son Ian. "I suppose he'll write me off as a silly Aussie bitch." That observation is probably correct. The two are poles apart, you might say.

Chudleigh is featured in many of Jacquie Lawson's delightful e-cards. I've sent hundreds of them to friends around the world for several years. One of their best features is that, unlike most "free" e-cards, they carry no advertising.

"Jacquie Lawson is a prim English woman of a certain age residing in a country cottage in the village of Lurgashall in West Sussex," we read on a UK website (we suspect Jacquie must have written those words herself. Who else would be so ungallant as to describe her in those terms?)

"Jacquie has become famous for building and selling classic-looking flash greeting cards. Her cards stand in sharp contrast to the garden variety put out by Blue Mountain, eGreetings, et al. Jacquie charges $8 per year for membership and does not have an ad model.

"Jacquie is a regular at the Noah's Ark pub in Lurgashall."

Seeking further details, we found this rave review signed by M.A.L.:

Virtually everyone who has ever received a card created by Jacquie Lawson has kept a warm and fuzzy spot in their hearts long after the card was first received and read.

Learning about what motivated the author to produce the first Christmas card and the wonderful people who assist Jacquie Lawson in this effort is a delightful teaching and learning experience, which started for me with a visit to Chudleigh's page. [Chudleigh] is a chocolate Labrador and found in many of Jacquie's delightful cards.

Malcolm Caird, Chudleigh's human friend, is one of the wonderful people who keep things tidy at the company located in Lurgashall village, along with Beverley Pask-Hughes, Mike Hughes-Chamberlain and Sally Lisney. Taking the time to read about these good folk, will make receiving a Jacquie Lawson card in the future an experience which will be even more meaningful.

Hmm. We have a sneaky feeling that Reviewer M. A. L. might be Malcolm Caird himself.

Jacquie's website says:

Back in the year 2000, when Jacquie drew her first animated Christmas e-card, she did so as an artistic and technical challenge - and for a bit of fun. She sent the e-card to several friends who in turn sent it to several friends ... and she soon became inundated with requests for more from around the world.

To cover the enormous running costs of a site which has to support hundreds of thousands of downloads a day, we ask for a very small annual membership fee, which permits you to send as many e-cards as you like to as many people as you like.

We don't aim to compete with the big e-card sites which have dozens of artists and hundreds of e-cards. This site is always going to be limited to what one artist can achieve, especially in view of the complexity of these holiday e-cards, each of which can take several weeks to create.

We started the site in February 2002, and so far we have 85 e-cards in the collection, including a variety of Christmas and birthday e-cards.

You can see some great photos of Jacquie and friends by clicking on the third link listed below. She's definitely NOT "a prim English woman of a certain age."

OK, so this is where we have to come clean!

Chudleigh is not in fact a chocolate Labrador as implied in all the cards. He is in fact a Chocolate Labrador x Springer Spaniel. Deepest apologies to all those Labrador fans out there ... your favourite Christmas pin-up is not what he seems!

But apart from his little white chest, he has most of the attributes of a Labrador, including the ability to chew his way through a farm gate in about ten minutes flat.

Chudleigh was born in Lurgashall eight years ago. His father is a Chocolate Labrador, and his mother is an English Springer Spaniel. Fortunately, he has inherited the best traits of each breed. He is highly intelligent, exceedingly sociable and very easy to train, having learned how to 'track' from puppyhood.

Why "Chudleigh"? Well, there's a town in Labrador, Canada, called Chudleigh, and another one in Devon, England of the same name. And it seemed like a good doggy sort of name, really!
-- From Chudleigh's Diary

DISCLAIMER. I have never spoken to Jacquie, nor was I paid to write this story. I just love her artistry and bubbly personality, in the same way that Bessie loves Chudleigh.

Links

Bess sent this Valentine to Chudleigh
Bess sent this Valentine to Chudleigh

 

Story first posted March 2007

Copyright 2007

Eric Shackle

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