Crufts 2017 YKC Obedience

Judge: Jane Wood

I would like to offer my very sincere thanks to the Kennel Club and the Young Kennel Club for the honour of the invitation to judge these Obedience classes at Crufts 2017. I enjoy working with young people and to have the opportunity to see how hard they have worked and how much they have achieved in our wonderful sport has indeed been a privilege.


Everyone coped with the highs and low of competition in a most mature and sporting way which surely bodes well for their future competitive careers and I hope everyone enjoyed their moment in the spotlight.

Every judge needs a first class team around them and I am indebted to my sister Juliette Wettern for not only stewarding on both days but helping with rehearsals and generally supporting me in all my preparations, all with a badly sprained ankle! Fiona Henderson very kindly acted as a stay steward on both days which I was grateful for.

On each day, the YKC members provided me with fantastic help and support, Laura Gardener, on Thursday was my scoreboarder, stay steward, controller of press and prize winners and general gofer! Whatever needed doing, Laura was there with quiet efficiency getting the job done, her organisation and personal skills would put many adults to shame, and she is a great asset to the YKC.

Cameron Stokes was another YKC member organizing the collecting ring and making sure everyone was in the right place at the right time on both days, not an easy job at Crufts!. On the Friday, there was just one class to judge and we had help from Rosie Shepherd, Chloe Green and Nicola Sturrock.

I do apologise if I have omitted to name anyone else but you were all brilliant and a pleasure to work with. The man on the mic was Barry Harvey who did a brilliant job of keeping the audience informed as to what was going on and introducing the competitors for their moment of glory. Thank you Barry!

STARTERS

1st Bobby Lee with JAKEY OF ZELDONIS Crossbreed losing 1¼
From the off, this team were not going to give many points away, I loved the calm, purposeful rhythm of their heelwork. A very attentive recall with just the tiniest crooked present completed a very nice round and a worthy winner. Very well done indeed.
2nd Isobel West with WAKADUZE WI MIMBE Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever losing 1½
Ran the winner very close today but the recall which started in a nice lively and active manner sadly lacked enough control on the present. Very nice heelwork and a pleasure to judge this team.
3rd Shauna Lloyd with WHITEROCKS CLARA PEGOTTY Shetland Sheepdog losing 2¼
Some slightly inaccurate sits at the halts and a little drifting wide claimed most of the points lost but beautiful handling saved lots more to earn a well deserved 3rd place.
4th Jemma Speirs with COOLAULIN SHADOW’S SECRET Miniature Poodle losing 2¾
I have noted ‘lovely handling’ on my sheet! Apart perhaps from the lead being tightened a few times, do watch this, it is costly. A lovely active recall from which a jump and crooked present took their toll. A beautifully presented dog and handler.
5th Maisy Dent with RAGUS JUST JOKING AT FIZZELLA Norwich Terrier losing 3¼
This little dog found it hard to concentrate with so much happening around the ring. Crufts has to be the very hardest place to compete and you did extremely well. Once she was listening to you, she did an almost perfect recall which saved the day. Well done.
6th Bronagh Walsh with FEARNACH GOD OF THUNDER Shetland Sheepdog losing 6¼First in the ring which must have been very daunting for this young handler. Try to remember to keep your lead loose, tightening it was rather costly today. I am not a fan of the temperament test but a dog needs to be taught the control to stand still for a momentary touch by the judge. Sadly, this little dog was unwilling to let me touch her resulting in the marks lost. This just implies that she wasn’t very brave on the day and not that I found fault with her temperament as such. Don’t be disappointed by this, you handled her well and did all that you could to help her. The round ended well though with a super recall.
7th Lauren McCormick with CANEM LEPOREM OF RALEAGH Jack Russell Terrier losing 6¾
Poor Lauren, had a real job to get her little dog to stop looking into the crowd and settle down to the job! She persisted however and was able to show me some very nice work…..until her attention strayed again. However, she performed the only full point recall of the class! Great sportsmanship from Lauren at a very difficult time. Well done.

 

ELEMENTARY

1st Becky Convery with MILES TO FLY Crossbreed losing 4½
What a great little dog! Only very minor inaccuracies in the heelwork although I did spot the lead tightening up. There was a nail biting recall as she didn’t respond straightaway which obviously has to be penalized and then the present and finish were not quite spot on. However a beautifully handled round earning a very well deserved first place.
2nd Clare Dempsey with LADY WAFFLES Toy Poodle losing 4¾
Just a quarter of a point behind the winner! Again I noted a tight lead at times. She was a little loose in the heel free but her recall was very tidy and there was lots to like in this team. Well done!
3rd Samantha Ragus with CHEWBAKA OF SOLO Crossbreed losing 5
It’s tight at the top as they say and this team were just another quarter point behind. Some lack of control on the temperament test and some rather loose heel on the lead took some marks away but the heel free was much neater and the recall very nice. Well done.
4th Rebecca Williams with SKYLAR CURLY FLYER Crossbreed losing 6½
This team took a while to get into the swing of the round and lost a few points on the lead for wide work and a tight lead. However when he had settled into the environment the heel free and recall were much neater. As I said before, Crufts is a very hard place to ask your dog to give you his full attention but I must compliment you on some very motivational handling which clearly paid off!
5th Joshua King with BISCATRON 3000 Crossbreed losing 9
First in the ring and another dog who was rather overawed by the surroundings. Lost for wide work and a tight lead also some lack of control on the temperament test. Do try not to touch your dog during the round, teaching the ‘touch’ is one of the training methods used to good effect but the actual ‘touch’ must be managed without before going in the ring. However there was lots to like in this team’s work.
6th Paige Jepson with DEKDAYS CAMBRICA OF JEPLONG Border Collie losing 10½
Lovely heel on lead but she ran out of steam in the heel free and stopped to investigate a marker which was a shame. Further loss in the sit stay relegated this team today although I do think they will do very well in the future. Very nice handling and the only one not to lose for a tight lead!

I began to see a bit of a theme developing here…….the dreaded tight lead! I am sure nerves play a big part in this but one day it might make the difference between winning or losing and it is such an unnecessary
thing!

 

ADVANCED

Sadly, the scheduled Advanced class only had one qualifier and the dog had to be withdrawn due to ill health. This must have been a great disappointment for the young handler and I send my best wishes for a speedy recovery.
I really wanted to show the audience and YKC members what the advanced class looked like as it really requires a high level of handling and training skill with the more complex exercises of a sendaway, scent discrimination and an article retrieve included so I set about trying to find a willing soul with a dog that could do the test I had prepared. Michael McCartney from Northern Ireland came to the rescue with young Sarah Fitzpatrick aged 12 handling Michael’s son’s Border Collie Gigsy. They attacked the test in fine style and judging by the crowds of spectators and the applause, were very well received. Thank you Sarah and I hope to see you competing next year!

GRADUATE

1st Voirrey Horne with MANANNANS ISLA MAN Border Collie losing 2¾
Mature, thoughtful handling of a young and excitable dog produced a round that really impressed me. But for a rather messy pick up of the dumbbell I was given very little to mark and enjoyed seeing teamwork in action. Considering that this team don’t live on the mainland, (the clue is in the name!) it must make it hard to get to shows and trainers. However, they are on their way up for sure and I congratulate both Voirrey and her trainers for this standard of work.
2nd Kaydie Davidson with JAZZABINS MEMORY Working Sheepdog losing 4
This young lady is another who is destined for greater things. It was great to see such dedication and mature handling from one so young and whilst I don’t get overly worked up about footwork, I noted ‘nice footwork’ on my sheet here as it was clearly well practiced and had a terrific effect on producing accuracy from the dog. Another untidy retrieve and an anticipated recall took some marks, otherwise pressing the winner very hard in terms of quality.
3rd Samantha Ragus with CHEWBAKA OF SOLO Crossbreed losing 4½
I loved this team who were also placed in the Elementary the previous day. The mutual love was evident and Samantha was very understanding of her dogs advancing years and perhaps his inclination to have an opinion as to what was to be done! This said, today’s round was, in the main very tidy. The heelwork was the most costly but recall and retrieve were active and largely accurate.
4th Rosie Paine with MAD MISS MADDY Crossbreed losing 5
Maddy was rather overawed by the occasion which proved costly in the heelwork exercises but her recall was full points and her retrieve was excellent, losing just a quarter. Well done.
5th Amy Carswell with FOXBARTON PRINCE HAL Border Collie losing 6¾
A little over excitement during the round led to some barking and crabbing and the retrieve needs a bit more work on control. This said, there were some very nice moments and lots to like in this team.
6th Keeley Hurton with KEELEYS ARCHIE BOY Crossbreed losing 8¼
A well presented team who struggled a little with the exercises in such a testing environment. The exercises are there in essence but need tidying up to iron out all those annoying little wides and crooked sits that give away so many marks on the day.
7th Lizzie Mason with STRICKLAND FLYER Working Sheepdog losing a few more!
Heel on lead began well but perhaps not quite ready for the stresses of heel free in such a testing environment. Keep working on that heelwork because her recall and retrieve were well up to standard.

One thing that struck me, particularly in the lower two classes was that handlers seemed so reluctant to actually touch their dogs! I know we tend to use food lures and rewards to teach many of the exercises and this is great but if the dog is either distracted or unsure of what the lure is asking for, there is really nothing wrong in gently guiding the dog into the sit position with your hands to show him what you want. In the Starters, most handlers had difficulty in setting their dogs up to begin, as the dogs were so distracted and overawed by the environment. Gentle guidance and a quick pat and cuddle would have saved much angst and panic from handlers who worried that they were never going to be able to move off. The test doesn’t begin until the steward has asked if you are ready, on the reply ‘yes’, you will be directed to set off, after which you can’t touch your dog without loss of marks. Give it a go!

I hugely enjoyed my judging appointment and wish you all lots of luck and lots of fun with your dogs in the future.

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