Crufts 2017 Obreedience Final

Judge: Michelle Newman

Firstly I would like to thank the Kennel Club for the opportunity to judge the Obreedience finals, and for the engraved vase given to me. Thanks also to Kate for making sure we had everything we needed before the show, and to Richard Kebble for being on hand from the Wednesday to help if needed.

As with all judging appointments, it is only possible to do so with a team by your side, and in this case it needed another 4 members! I am truly grateful to you all for giving up your time to come outfit shopping, practice the round before hand, and to all of you for arriving at the NEC on the Wednesday for the run through. Half the team are self-employed, so I really do appreciate that it was not just your time you gave up so freely. My team were Paul Cook (steward), Elaine New (scribe), Mandy Winborne (collecting ring) and Caroline Hall (collecting ring and make-up artiste!!). Together they brought brilliant sense of humours, lots of laughs, lots of help and ultimately made my job so much easier. Thank you!

The tests for Obreedience are variations based on normal obedience exercises. There are 3 set heelwork patterns, from which the judge chooses their preference. Each team, consisting of 4 dogs, complete the heelwork together. When all the teams have undertaken their heelwork, the ring is divided in quarters for the set exercises. The scent is what us oldies refer to as the “old A article scent”, with the handlers bringing their own articles (I selected the “blank” articles carefully so they would not be enticing to the dogs, and thankfully this was a success). The retrieve is as you would find in a Novice class. The recall incorporates a down half way, with the dog to be dropped in a designated area. The sendaway is a “send to bed”.

There were 10 teams qualified for the final, and all dogs gave a good account of their breed. I appreciate that the teams are not made up of obedience people as such, and imagine a good deal of work went into preparing these dogs to compete. This competition is aimed to show that a variety of breeds can compete in Obedience, and I more than some understand that not all “other breeds” are always too wiling to comply, but this is why we love them and what makes the training and competing fun! You just never know what they will do….!

So the results are:

1st: The GSDs (German Shepherds) losing 5.
A fantastic start on heelwork, losing 3.5, gave them a good position going into the set exercises. The handlers tried hard to keep in sync with each other in heelwork, and the dogs were attentive and happy. The set exercises were just fab, with a clear send to bed, just a ¼ lost on retrieve, ½ on recall and ¾ on scent, they proved unbeatable. It was lovely to see how much it meant to the handlers, you deserved your win, enjoy it!

2nd: The Russellers (Jack Russell Terriers) losing 7 ¼.
Overall the heelwork was a joy to watch, losing 4 ½, but one naughty little Jack couldn’t resist doing some of it his own way (the weave springs to mind!!). A perfect recall, just ½ lost on both retrieve and send to bed, and 1 ¾ on scent, gave them this top position. I don’t know why you were surprised, your dogs were super! Congratulations.

3rd: Dachtastic (Miniature Longhaired Dachshunds) losing 7 ¾.
These super little dogs made my day! In heelwork, 2 of the dogs maintained constant attention on their handlers, and when the other 2 joined in it was poetry to watch. Lovely, happy attitudes, they were a delight. Lost just ¼ on send to bed, ½ on retrieve, 1 on recall and 1 ½ on scent. I hope you continue to do well in the future.

4th: Cairntastics Terriers (Cairn Terriers) losing 9 ½.
Another lovely team to watch – heelwork taking 6 ¾ but then little Dottie just couldn’t resist hanging on to mum’s trouser leg and playing tug most of the way round! A bit naughty true, but I do like a dog that can make me smile! On the sets losing just ¼ on send to bed, ½ on both retrieve and recall, and 1 ½ on scent giving them their deserved place. Well done on all your success last year, may it continue!

The other teams faired as follows:

The Border Delights (Border Collies) – after producing a very smart round of heelwork, putting them in contention for a place, an unfortunate loss of 4 ¼ in scent dashed their chances. A competent team, congratulations.

The Rat Catchers (Manchester Terriers) – I loved the handlers outfits!! A good recall and retrieve, just a few silly marks lost on the other exercises. But well done!

The Defiant Giants (Giant Schnauzers) – a good standard of heelwork, and a very good scent. The send to bed dog did raise a laugh, as he really really really loved his bed!! I hope it is still in one piece!

Petits Pyreneans (Pyrenean Sheepdogs) – unfortunately the marks lost in scent and retrieve took their toll, which was a shame as the rest of the test was of a good standard!

Canny Cavalier (Cavalier King Charles Spaniels) – easily the best heelwork mark of the day, losing just 2 ¾! They were an absolute pleasure to watch! In the lead going into the set exercises, sadly too many marks lost on recall and retrieve pushed them out of the line-up. A crowd favourite for sure.

And finally………drum roll please……to the simply amazing Cimeco Dell’Etnas! After producing some sound work in the heelwork, and just ¾ on scent…..it went a bit wrong! These dogs and handlers actually capture the essence of the competition, and they are the ones I will remember with a smile for a long time to come. Unfortunately the lure of circuiting the arena was too much for 2 of the dogs, and after saying a few “hellos” to the appreciative crowd, they left some “presents” for the officials to clear up! I loved them!

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