Crufts Diary 2015 – Dog Obedience Championships

By: Susan & Gemma Henshaw

So day three of our annual pilgrimage to Crufts, it’s the turn of the dog teams today and by 8.30am the stands were already beginning to fill up. Ten minutes later and the judge and her ring party took up their positions at the side of the ring, and then to the music of ‘The boys are back in town’ the parade of competitors got underway to a chorus of applause and cheering. As each team entered the ring their ticket wins were announced by Gerard Paisley, as Mary Ray started off round the ring with ‘Levi’, Gerard had to ask her to walk slowly so that he would stand a chance of reading out all their wins before she got to the end of the parade, he managed all thirteen before she finished – just.

At 9am we had the introduction of today’s judge, Sandra Gordon and a brief history of her career in this sport with a special mention to her late husband Derek. For today the judge wore black trousers, a black top and a lovely satin look red jacket. The ladies of the ring party wore black trousers and jackets with red tops, which had a sparkling embellishment around the neckline. The gentleman steward was equally smart in a black suit, black shirt and deep red tie.

The send away markers were the same as yesterday, four square markers with a chequerboard pattern on them and a larger back marker with the same pattern. The retrieve is again a hoop but with red and black cloth strips on it. The heelwork pattern is the same as for the bitch championships.

Working first in the running order today was Kath Westell with ‘Ob Ch Corriecollies Jetsetter For Kajo’, starting with the retrieve, the pick up on the article was a bit untidy and there was some mouthing on the return, a little costly, losing 1½ marks. The heelwork exercise started well with a good solid position held in the normal pace, neatly worked turns and lovely attention, the transitions between the three paces was instant and the slow pace footwork from both handler and dog matched well, a very steady pace especially through the weave poles. They finished their ring work with an excellent DC exercise, positions carried out on command and very little movement, marked clear.

In at No 3 was Janet Bates and ‘Ob Ch Bluefizz Taika Chance On Me’ a confident start in the heelwork and almost bounced onto the circle but still managed to hold a good position. The ASSD positions were very responsive on command but the dog walked on slightly into the down. Fast pace was flowing, the turns neatly finished off and the straight work showed superb attention, this dog really showing how much he enjoys his work. Onto the send away and a steady run out followed by a good drop into the down on command just to the right hand side of the back marker, an attentive wait then an accurate pick up into the heel position.

Following them into the ring was Margaret Ward and ‘Fellameeka Diamond Geezer’, a slight run on in the pick up on the retrieve article but returned to a neat front present.  The dog held a very steady and accurate position in the heelwork, squaring off the left turn from the diagonal with ease, the transition into slow was instant on command and again the turns were well worked. Throughout the three paces the dog’s attention never wavered and he responded well to the ASSD positions. A nice round to watch.

In at No 6 was Janet Matthews with ‘Ob Ch Croftmist River Of Krissmoss’, they started with one of the best retrieves of the day, the dog going out to the article at a good pace, a careful pick up then back to the handler into a very square present and tight finish, losing just ¼ mark. The send away exercise was equally as good, a very straight run, no hint of hesitation or slowing until he heard the command from the handler, then an instant down right in front of the back marker, picked up quickly into the heel position, a very confident exercise. Finished their ring work with a classic DC, moving quickly into each position when asked and total attention on the handler throughout.

Running at No 10 was Jessica Lewis and her GR ‘Ob Ch Pepsanner Atlantic’, after a good retrieve, into the heelwork and this boy obviously loves his work, holding a very steady controlled position in normal pace, an accurate turn onto the circle and a solid ASSD stand position, waiting patiently whilst the handler continued round the circle before picking him up into the heel position, the left turn from the diagonal straight was carefully worked with just the right amount of movement. Down a gear into slow pace and total concentration from both handler and dog, lovely position through the weave poles then up into the fast pace which was just as accurate. The dog’s attention didn’t falter at all and they gave very little away, losing just 8 marks on the heelwork round. Their DC was performed with accuracy, instant positions and little movement, marked clear, this team lost a total of 9 on the ring work and took an early lead.

By now it was 10.45 and there was a short break for 15 minutes, looking around the stands they have been quite busy this morning, very few seats remaining empty, which is so nice to see.

In at No 14 was Linda Rutherford and ‘Ob Ch Sixela Rumr Has It’, accuracy and attention from the start from this dog, an instant response on the ASSD stand and the position held in the heelwork is beautiful to watch, transition into the slow pace was with ease and they both worked the turns very accurately with the concentration showing on the dogs face. The fast pace was worked at a good stride and with controlled power, the dog maintaining his position and giving total attention throughout.  Onto the send away and the dog went straight out to the back marker at speed, an instant drop on command but then anticipated the call out quite early which was costly as they lost 3 ½ marks on that exercise.  Finished off their round with a very responsive DC, positions instantly on asking and marked clear.

Following them into the ring was Mary Ray and ‘Ob Ch Colliewood Blue Jeans’, starting with the retrieve and a smart run out followed by a neat pick up on the article, turned quickly and back into a very square present and tight finish, the only clear retrieve of the day. The heelwork started well, neat footwork onto the circle but the dog missed the ASSD stand and sat instead, the heelwork across the ring was superb to watch, as they completed the left turn off the diagonal the dog stopped in his tracks and had to be called back into the heel position. Slow pace was carried out with total concentration and the turns were precise and accurate, the work though the weave in both slow and normal was textbook, lovely to watch the footwork from this pair.

Running at No 16 was Dot Watts with her ‘Ob Ch Ziggdan Zyco’ the youngest dog working in this class today. From the start the lovely upright handling bought out the best in this boy, a very steady normal pace, holding position and attention through all the turns, the move down into slow pace was instant and the footwork was controlled with accuracy and total commitment from dog and handler, position never changing. Fast pace was worked well, accurate turns and with a flowing gait from the dog, a lovely pace to watch, they lost just 6 ¾ marks on the heelwork exercise. A fast run out to the back marker in the send away followed by an instant drop but just before the call up he really couldn’t wait any longer and anticipated, but then picked up into a well braked heel position, another team who finished their ring work off with a clear DC exercise and a total of 9 marks lost on the round.

A break for lunch was announced from 12 – 1.10pm and before we all left our seats there was a presentation in the ring for the Obedience Dog of the Year, for 2014 the title went to Mary Ray and ‘Ob Ch Colliewood Blue Jeans’ with a total of 13 ticket wins and 26 open ‘C’ wins. The top Obedience Bitch title went to Kathy Russell with ‘Ob Ch & Wt Ch Ruskath Othentic Image’, the trophies were presented by the new owner of Dog Training Weekly, Emma Reynolds.

We took the opportunity to stretch our legs and managed to get round most of the stands over in Hall 1 & 2 before returning to our seats for lunch and then the resumption of today’s competition.

First in after lunch was Philomena Barnes with ‘Ob Ch Forever Magic It’s a Gift’, the winners of this class at Crufts 2014. A superb retrieve to start with, good control on the pick up and straight back into a straight front present, losing just ½ mark. The heelwork that followed was lovely to watch, very controlled strides in each pace, well finished turns with the dog maintaining an accurate position, especially in the fast pace, just started to push forward a little in the slow pace, looking as though he would have preferred to do all the heelwork in fast pace, very keen and eager but well controlled. A very fast run out in the send away, no deviation or slowing, he dropped almost instantly on command in front of the back marker, a quick response to the call up and put on the brakes just in time to put himself into a perfect heel position. They finished their round on a total of 9 ½ marks so all very close at the top half of the leader board.

Last team in the ring today was Geraldine Steadman with ‘Ob Ch Nobite Defence Of The Realm’ their 7th consecutive appearance at Crufts. The dog responded well in the normal pace, good attention and position on the circle and then a very neatly finished turn on the left from the diagonal line. An instant transition down a gear into the slow pace, accurate on the turns and total concentration from this pair, well placed footwork through the weave, back into normal pace and the ASSD down was instant with a lovely pick up back into heel. Just a slight loss of position at the start of the fast pace but then seemed to find the right stride and the pace flowed, a very smart team to watch. Onto the send away and a fast, straight run through the front markers and dropped on command at the back marker, followed by a controlled pick up into the heel position, losing just 1 mark.

By 1.40pm the ring work had finished and there was a short 10-minute break as the scent cloths were laid out, the same pattern as yesterday with the decoys and judges cloth also in the same places.

First into the ring was Kath Westell with ‘Becker’ the dog going out to the right hand side of the arc, checked each cloth until he reached the judges one, picked it up with care and returned straight to the handler, slightly crooked in the present and finish, losing just ¾ mark. In at No 4 were Margaret Ward and ‘Raffles’ the dog methodically checking each cloth followed by a positive find on the right one, back to the handler but a knock on in the front present.

Running at No 6 was Janet Matthews and ‘River’ the dog just checking three cloths, found the judges one and straight back into a very neat front present and finish, another team to lose ¾ mark. In at No 8 was Michelle Dunscombe with ‘Ob Ch Forever Magic Xrated’, the dog deciding that he only needed to check two of the cloths, picked up the right one very carefully and returned to a square present and close finish losing ¾ mark.

Entering the ring at No 10 was Jessica Lewis with ‘Tiggs’, holding a joint lead with Dot Watts, the dog worked at a good pace round the arc, checked each cloth twice, with everyone holding their breath, turned back to the right one and returned to a square present and tight finish, marked clear. In at No 12 was Gill Winyard and ‘Ob Ch Jonjosam Drunken Duncan’ a quick run out to the cloths followed by an equally quick check on all of them, straight back with the right one into a well braked front present, just a slight jump into the finish position, losing ½ mark.

Linda Rutherford and ‘Rumr’ were in at No 14 the dog checking just three cloths before a positive find on the right one and straight back, knocking through the handlers legs slightly in the front present. Coming in at No 16 was Dot Watts and ‘Zyco’, another dog who searched over the cloths at speed, found the right one and quickly back to the handler but he was another dog that knocked through the legs in the present, losing ½ mark.

Following them into the ring was Philomena Barnes with ‘Ginty’, the dog going out to the scent area at a good pace, a fast very positive find on the right cloth and back into a very square present but just slightly crooked on the finish, losing ¼ mark. Last team in the ring for this exercise was Geraldine Steadman with ‘Jaz’ and another dog that worked out over the cloths at speed, a quick find and back to a good present and tight finish, losing ½ mark.

The scent exercise had finished by 2.35pm and then a 15 minute ‘comfort’ break whilst the stewards prepared the ring for the last exercise of the championships – stays. At 2.50pm all the competing teams entered the ring and took up their places by their running order numbers. The sit stay was first and all the teams were clear, then the 10 minute down stay and as the handlers left the ring it was interesting to note that some of the dogs never took their eyes off the exit where the handlers had gone whereas other dogs looked like they had gone to sleep!  All the teams were marked clear and as they left the ring at the end of the exercise there was a huge cheer from the audience.

A short break whilst the scores were checked, trophies, place cards and rosettes made ready and then we had the return of the judge to the ring where she applauded as her ring party made their final entrance, followed by the final parade of competitors to the music of ‘We are the Champions’, they were greeted by a huge roar of cheers and clapping.

We then had an announcement that there was now going to be a special award to Roy Page, who is retiring from his role as Crufts Chief Obedience Steward after holding the position for 13 years. Gerard gave us a brief history from when Roy first started until the present day, and then he was presented with a gold watch from the KC Crufts Committee and an Ipad from the obedience community, the audience gave a huge round of applause to Roy and his wife Shelagh.

This was followed by the thank you and presentation of a gift to the judge Sandra Gordon.

Then what all the audience had been waiting for the announcement of the Crufts Dog Obedience Champions 2015, Jessica Lewis and her GR ‘Ob Ch Pepsanner Atlantic’ and the crowd greeted them with a thunderous ovation as they stepped forward to the first place board, a hugely popular win.

The reserve place went to Dot Watts and ‘Ob Ch Ziggdan Zyco’, a fantastic end to two days of competition for Dot and her dogs, and again the crowd applauded them all the way to the place boards.

Third place went to Philomena Barnes with ‘Ginty’, fourth went to Geraldine Steadman with ‘Jaz’ fifth place to Linda Rutherford and ‘Rumr’ and sixth place to Margaret Ward and ‘Raffles’.

Presentations and congratulations to the competitors followed and then the rest of the teams left the ring for the last time, to ‘we are the Champions’. So the last two days have seen the cream of Obedience in this country working to their very best here at Crufts, a classic ‘no frills’ round laid out by the judge, a large appreciative audience and two extremely happy winners.

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