…And so to Crufts!!

Even as a kennel that doesn’t show much anymore, you HAVE to go to Crufts! If they are qualified…. you’d be mad to miss it, although Allan would beg to differ! Crufts is a bit of a Merry Go Round. You get ‘on’ at the bottom of the M40, and only jump off, knackered, wallet considerably lighter and either elated or definately taking up knitting, at silly o’clock later that day!

It was a day of ghosts. It wasn’t going to be an easy one, but who could stay anything but on their toes with this bunch to shepherd round the NEC?!!

Fish maintained his usual calm dignity in the face of entering the NEC halls to a earsplitting chorus of ‘Who Let the Dogs out!?’ and a display of ‘Tumbling Terriers’… He barely raised a well manicured eyebrow. THOMAS, on the other hand, thought he’d died and gone to heaven, standing, shaking with adrenaline, pupils fully dilated, patently arrived at the BEST party he had EVER been to, and he fully intended to soak it up!

Third timer Shiney, long suffering and only beaten by Mallie in the ‘I hate Crufts, someone please kill me NOW….’ stakes, just sighed and muttered ‘come on then, by god, lets get this pantomine over with!’ And marched off knowingly in the direction of Hall 5.

The day was one of good friends, old and new, and good DOGS old and new. Shiney was our little individual superstar, taking third in the BASC Gamekeeper ring working Labrador bitch class, in the usual huge class. This was the first in a series of ‘lump in throat’ moments as, that is, the same place, and same class, that Jade was third in last year, just weeks before we lost her.

The class:

The happy result of 3rd….:

The ‘Wobble’…..

No tears, just a small labrador with a big heart to put it all in perspective and pull me to the present, not the past. Shiz, thank you sweetheart.

So just to give me something to stress about in the ‘now’, Allan decided to do a vanishing act till the dying seconds before he was meant to show Fish in the Special Working Class in the breed ring. So proud to have him in there on the weight of the fact he holds his Working Gundog Certificate, but ever so slightly suicidal with a half trial bred dog amongst the Champions with their Show Gundog Working Certificates! I reliably hear (as I was detained elsewhere!) that he looked lovely, but you can be sure… he looked DIFFERENT! 😉 Roll on next year when he can go in the Field Trial class with his peers. Although Fish got his Field Trial award this winter, so qualified to take part in it ordinarily, his award was won a few days AFTER Crufts entries closed, so I couldn’t put him in. Onwards to next year! Bondy of course qualified fair and square, and was entered…. but I felt that his waistline (supermodel-esque) and his current length of leg might just cause the dog judge to hyperventilate and need a little sit down before continuing if I actually TOOK him….. so Bondy was ‘washing his hair’ and so AWOL (When I said this to Allan he politely suggested that stood for ‘A Whippet on Legs’ to which I politely suggested he go **** himself….. jealousy!! ha!!!)

And SO to Thomas twoshoes! Party boy! Tom thought the NEC was ‘twinned’ with Ibiza. But to his credit, apart from taking a LARGE dump RIGHT infront of the most expensive artwork tradestand in the show, he didn’t put a foot wrong all day!

Allan had the choice who to show in the individual classes…. and HE picked Tom! Honest he did. No armtwisting, no robbery…. 😉 And a decent job they both made of it for a pair where one desperately wanted to be at the bar and the other wanted to personally shake the hand of every one of the other 25 dogs in the class! The real problem was, as I explained to someone, the family braincell is always on a timeshare basis. And the fact that Shiney AND Toms classes were at exactly the same time was ALWAYS going to end in tears for someone….

However….. almost a showdog, just a very skinny one!!!

Allan: ‘Blow me down, Rach… the bars ONLY just gone and opened!!… do you reckon you could show two…no?? Oh… OK, fair enough….!!!’

…………..Best actually get a tune out of him then….:

Ok, so now we’ve nailed it, Laddo!

Sadly not placed, but I feel, maybe they have bonded a bit…. well…. maybe…. 😉

So the thing is, the day was all about the Team competition. MONTHS ago on a slightly drunken evening in ‘the Windmill’, after picking up, I broached it with my two fellow working chocolate owners (and great mates…) I suggested that they REALLY wanted to come to Crufts, and we would be an amazing team in the Working gundog team class! I was greeted with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Well let me put it this way, Trina is an old hand and was bang up for it, but we both knew Andy was our problem. He thought showing consisted of mincing round a ring with your little finger raised with a pink poodle on a diamonte encrusted lead. He took a ‘little persuading’. If it sets the scene better, Kaz, his partner, drove that night. 😉

So we get to Crufts and do you know what? It all came DAMN good! Loads of teams, lots of which had done it countless times before, and a bunch of pretty skinny choccie wokkie do dahs and we were SECOND! We even got a decent set of compliaments from David Tomlinson and a promise of nothing but positives written about our ‘funny brown dogs!’ in the Shooting Times – I shan’t hold my breath on that one David!

The team!

Five slim, attractive folks and another one….

So we get all serious for a bit:

Best foot forward……! Syncronised heeling.. get us!

‘They liked us! They REALLY liked us!’ Grin!!!

So we were second, which was fantastic, and friends of mine, from the Ketches Farm Shoot, Kit, Karen and Sonja were fourth too which was FAB! Jog on the Sussex teams!

It was definately something i’d love to do again. It made the day very special to win something with your mates who you spend all winter, week in, week out, trudging through mud with…… debating to the possibility of the pheasant you have just spent half hour looking for actually having so much as a TOENAIL chipped….and generally living in a world so far from the Crufts green carpet you could be in a paralell Universe! 😉

A tiny footnote to say that all was well. Allan was found, alive and in the Hall 5 bar several pints and a ‘tot O’ Whisky’ down…. and showed Fish, making friends with everyone round the ring (probably telling them he loved them very much, actually, now I think about it!) hence leaving with the impression all showfolk are adorable and liked his dog (!!!???)

Shiney managed to stifle her loathing of the big ring and take a 4th in the Bitch Special Working class which is fantastic coupled with the gamekeeper 3rd for a hopefully pregnant lady….

We did, eventually, find our way back to the car without splitting up (although it was a near run thing….) and probably…. almost certainly…. WILL….. be back next year. 😉

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