Crufts Diary – 2015 – Inter Regional Competition

By: Susan & Gemma Henshaw

So day one of crufts 2015 and for the obedience folk it’s the Inter Regional competition that gets four days of hopefully great obedience underway in the main ring in Hall 5.

Just before 9am and we had the judging party enter the ring ready for the parade of today’s teams, led in this year by the first team in the running order – the Midlands. People are beginning to take their seats in the stands and they greeted each team with enthusiasm and they certainly made themselves heard, especially the contingent from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Once the parade had finished there was a short break before the introduction of the judge for today’s competition, Steve Barnes, who started competing in obedience in 1981 and began his judging career in 1985. His ring party were then introduced and they received a big round of applause as they entered the ring.

The judge was wearing a very deep blue suit, a white shirt and blue tie, the ladies in the ring party were looking very smart in black trousers and a blue tunic style blouse topped off with some long necklaces. The only male steward was in black trousers, white shirt and blue tie.

Beginner Class.

Getting the competition under way was the team from the Midlands, Simon Harding with his lovely Boxer ‘Verdendo Yule Be Lucky’, at just 3 years old this is a cracking dog who really enjoyed her time in the ring today, trying hard to keep her attention and position with just the odd bit of wide work especially on the turns but the straights were lovely. They finished their round off with a very controlled gate exercise, losing a total for the round of just 5 ¼ marks.

In for the South East & E. Anglia region was Nick Wright with his GR ‘Carishill Onyx’; this team only started competing in obedience in August 2014 and promptly won out of pre-beginners. The dog gave lovely attention during the heelwork and held a good position on most of the turns, the pace from the handler really suiting the dog. When left in the recall the dog had a crafty look around at the audience but came up fast when called and applied the brakes just in time for the front present.

Next into the ring was Ashleigh Foster and her WS ‘Angelo’s Wings’ representing the Northern region. This dog coming back to obedience after a break away from the ring and at the age of 8 years worked just two beginner classes in 2014 and won both of them. The heelwork was controlled, accurate and well handled, and position was held neatly on the turns, just the right amount of encouragement when needed bought out the best in the dog. Retrieve was the best of the class, a neat careful pickup on the dumbbell and a straight front present, losing just ¼ mark on this exercise. They lost a total of 3 ¼ marks for the round

In for the South & S. West was Annette Gibson with her Lab, ‘Daisy Dibble’ a little unsettled during the heelwork, not quite able to maintain a steady position, but she didn’t stop trying and was obviously enjoying her time here, as her tail never stopped wagging. They finished their round with a very neatly handled gate exercise, the dog guided through by excellent handling from Annette.

The ring work for this class had finished by 9.45am, and we were then straight into the stay exercise. For this class a 1 minute down stay, unfortunately the dog representing Scotland broke the down almost straight away and followed the handler. All the other teams were clear. The Individual winners of this class were Ashleigh Foster and her WS ‘Bazil’ from the North.

Novice Class

In this class two teams represent each region, but only the top seven teams earn the points towards the team competition.

In for Wales was Anna Pleban with her Rh Ridgeback ‘Moon Walker’, the second time they have represented their region here at Crufts, having been the beginner team in 2014. In the recall the dog’s attention never left its owner and he came up at speed when called but forgot to apply the brakes and banged into her on the front present, losing 1½ marks for this exercise. The heelwork started with the dog really trying hard to keep his position and attention, there was the occasional wide on the straights but the turns were well worked. They finished the ring work on a score of 7¼ marks and a huge round of applause.

Representing Northern Ireland was Janette Mitchell with her 6 year old SSD ‘Shelridge Special Diamond’ a cracking recall to start their round with, an attentive wait followed by a straight run into a super front present. They lost just ¼ mark for the recall, the best in this class today. The heelwork cost most of their marks today with the dog not holding a consistent position and some wide work crept in along with crabbing on the turns, but he did try and keep his attention on the handler throughout the round.

Last of the teams to work in this first section of novice was the Scottish region’s Andy Crowe and his 4½ year old Staffie ‘Arthur of Douglas’, who also represented the team here in 2014. They started with a very fast recall into a well-stopped front present but as the dog was sent to heel he decided to stand behind his handler for a moment and have a look around, what a character. The dog tried hard to maintain his position in the heelwork section, but just dropped back slightly on the straights, some of the turns were very neat and he never stopped enjoying himself the whole way round.  They finished the round with the retrieve over hurdle but ‘Arty’ decided he would much better prefer to go round the hurdle instead of over it, such a shame as that was very costly.

Getting the second set of novice teams underway was the Midlands Kathryn Reynolds and her GR ‘Westhorphall Sarabi’, another youngster, just 2 years old, she was unsettled a little at the start of the heelwork and very wide going into the first left turn but she then settled and started to hold her position and gave lovely attention, good handling managing to get the best from this dog who never stopped waging her tail. They finished their round with a good hurdle retrieve, the dog jumped out with ease, controlled the pick up, clear jump back and into a straight present.

In for the South East & E. Anglia was Mari Ylivinkha with her 3½-year-old Gt Schnauzer ‘Tintenfass Patric Hr’s Son’. Starting with an attentive wait in the recall, followed by a very fast run on call but unfortunately knocked into the handler on the front present and sent her back a step, which was quite costly. Into the heelwork and you could see that the dog was trying hard to maintain his position but there was some crabbing on the straights. They ended their round with a lovely retrieve, clear jumps both ways over the hurdle, a careful pick up and then a steadier return into a straight present.

Last dog in this class and representing the North was Jackie Muir and her GSD/BC ‘Morgansr Made For Me’ who is a 2-year-old Irish rescue. The heelwork was lovely to watch, the dog holding a superb position throughout the exercise, which was worked at a good pace, really suiting him. His attention was only for ‘mum’ and they gave a picture of being very much a ‘team’, with just odd bits and pieces to mark. The retrieve saw good jumps over the hurdle, a very tidy pick up and a well-controlled present and finish.

The ring work for this class was completed by 10.45am and the markers were laid out for the down stay exercise in which just the second pair from the Scottish team lost ½ mark, the rest of the teams were clear.

The Individual winners of the Novice class were Anna Pleban and her Rh Ridgeback ‘Tahu’

Class ‘A’

Looking around the ring before the start of the next class it seemed that there were a lot more people in here watching than the last few years and they were really getting behind each competitor.  In this class the ring work consists of Heel free, an ‘A’ recall and a Placed Retrieve – the article for the retrieve looks to be a thick, yellow plastic tube with black plastic ‘nuts’ near the ends.

In for Wales was Anne Coates with her 4-year-old GR ‘Courtridge Chorister’ and the immediate impression this dog gave as he started to work was one of a very happy dog. A steady wait in the recall, as the handler walked away on a large marked out curve, a quick pick up when called but into the wrong side of the handler, the dog realising his error he quickly moved to the handlers left hand side. In the heelwork there were the odd wides on some of the turns at the start but he settled as the round went on and maintained a good position throughout the exercise, his attention rarely wandering from the handler, not at all fazed by the surroundings which at times can be quite noisy.

In for Northern Ireland was the team of Louise Jackson and her ASD ‘Topeka Ocaso Rojo’ a nice steady start in the heelwork with a good position held through the diagonal turns, the footwork on the other turns was neat and the pair looked at ease as the round progressed, the heelwork was carried out at a smart pace with the handling complimenting the dog perfectly, some of the left turns were a bit loose as the dog seemed to skip round them but overall a super team to watch.

Next into the ring was John Clark and his 2½ year old WS ‘Saartjie Highland Thistle’, starting with a lovely recall, an attentive wait and the dog picking up straight into the heelwork position with ease when called, losing just ½ mark, the best of the class for this exercise. Their heelwork showed just how it should be done at this level, with calm, confident handling from John, the position held by the dog throughout the exercise was very accurate, giving little away, and he held constant attention. Turns were controlled and well squared off, especially the diagonals, the straight-line work flowed and they lost just 5 marks in total for the round.

Starting off the second set of teams in class ‘A’ and representing the Midlands was Sue Cotton and her 2 year old GR ‘Wild Foggy Marsh’, starting with the A recall, a good wait then a fast pick up into the heel position, unfortunately the dog then forgot to sit at the end of the exercise and just stood wiggling his rear end with what looked like a big grin on his face, one very happy dog. They finished off their round with an excellent placed retrieve, the dog running straight out to the article on command, a careful pick up and an almost instant left turn to the handler, finishing off with a good front present and tight finish.

In for the South East & E. Anglia was Lou Holmes and her 6 year old BC ‘Nobite Held To Ransom’, the recall proved very costly as the dog anticipated almost straight away, just wanting to be with his num obviously! The heelwork started steadily with the dog holding his position but as the round progressed he started to drop back a little and errors on the turns crept in, the straight work was better and he held his attention on the handler throughout.

Following them into the ring was Gillian Strickleton with her BC ‘Redistedi High Reality’ for the North. A fast run on command in the recall but just overshot the handler on the pick up, which a lot of the dogs did today. The dog held a very consistent position in the heelwork; the handler gave a display of very neat footwork, especially on the diagonal turns to which the dog responded well, the other turns were accurate with just an odd one which wasn’t quite finished off. As the round progressed the dog started to work a little forward but seemingly just through sheer enthusiasm for his work, a lovely picture overall.

Last team to come in for the ring work in this class was Kirsty Bidgood and her 7 year old GSD ‘Spring Dream Mischa At Aliki’ The dog gave total attention on the handler as she walked away in the A recall followed by a fast run across the ring into a well braked and accurate pick up into the heel position. In the placed retrieve another attentive wait then straight out to the article on command, a little hesitant at first, sniffing the article, seemed to be a bit unsure of what it was and decided to check it out, then picked it up very carefully and returned to the handler, just sitting off a little in the front present.

By 12.20 the ring work had finished and there was a short ‘comfort’ break whilst the ring was prepared for the stay exercise – for this class it is a 2-minute sit stay – and all the teams completed the exercise. Once the teams had left the ring the stewards prepared for the final exercise of this class – scent. A straight line of 6 cloths with the handlers scented cloth being put down at position no.5.

Out of the 14 competing teams 3 dogs returned to their handler with one of the blank cloths costing them 25 marks. The other teams had very mixed results, many of the dogs dropping cloths especially once they had found the right one, deciding to go back to check the blanks. Marks lost ranged from ¾ – 11¼. Best scent of the day went to the Northern Ireland pair of Louise Jackson and ‘Razzle’, a careful check of all the cloths, and a positive find on the right one and straight back to ‘mum’ losing just ¾ mark.

Two other teams who put in an excellent scent exercise losing just 1 mark each were the North’s Gillian Strickleton with ‘Mikey’ and the South & S. West partnership of John Clark and ‘Kenzie’.

The Individual Winners of Class ‘A’ were John Clark and ‘Kenzie’.

Class ‘B’

There was an hour’s break for lunch and a bit of shopping then it was time for Class ‘B’ to get underway. The send away markers were yellow plastic boxes shaped like a house, with blue roofs and paw prints where the windows and doors should be. The retrieve article looked like a small square beanbag.

Getting the class underway and representing the Midlands was Julia Skipp and her BC ‘Shes The One’, starting with the send away, the dog barked as she set off but ran straight towards the back marker, very focused on her job, an instant down on command, waited for the call up and then a fast run and braked just in time and into the heel position, losing just 2 marks for this exercise. The retrieve over the hurdle saw the dog jump out well, a neat pick up on the article and a good jump back but a slightly crooked front present and finish, they lost 1¼ marks which was the best of the day in this class.

Following them into the ring was Yvonne Davies and her BSD ‘Bonvivant Vivace’ for the Welsh team they started well in the heelwork, the fast pace being very well controlled, then into the slow pace and the footwork from both handler and dog was well measured and suited them, but as the round progressed the dog started to drop attention and some wide work and unfinished turns crept in. They finished off their round with a very good retrieve over hurdle, the dog jumping with ease both ways and showing a very careful pick up on the article.

Representing Northern Ireland was Sue Raine with her WSD ‘Double Entendre’, the fast pace was executed well and at a long stride which really suited this dog he just threw an odd loose turn in at the start but settled into his work as the round progressed, the normal pace heelwork was lovely with the dog working hard to square off the turns and throughout the heelwork exercise his attention never wavered, a really happy looking dog obviously enjoying his time in the big ring.

Following them into the ring for the South & S West was Sue Howard and her GR ‘Cleynehage Jubox’, second time in this competition as they had previously represented the Southern region. Into the send away and a fast straight run out with an almost instant drop on command, then a quick pick up into a super heel position, they lost just 1½ marks on this exercise, the best in this class today. Starting the heelwork in the fast pace he jumped up and sideways a touch as they set off, looking eager to start his work.  He soon settled and gave a display of well-schooled heelwork, with lovely attention on the handler, the slow pace was very accurate with a well measured step, finishing the turns off neatly and keeping a straight line in his work, he just forgot to sit at the end of this pace. Losing 7½ marks on the heelwork exercise and the score was not bettered in this class today.

Once all the ring work had been completed the stay markers were put out and the teams came back in for the down stay, with just the Scottish team incurring a loss of ¾ mark, the rest of the teams were clear. Once the teams had left the ring the scent cloths were laid out, the handler facing towards three vertical lines of three cloths. The handlers cloth being in the middle of line two, the decoy at the end of line three.

Most of the dogs performed the sent with ease and marks lost ranged from ½ to 4, small errors included slight anticipation, crooked presents and finishes.

The overall Individual winners of Class B were Sue Howard and ‘Pookie’.

So to the last class of the day and looking around the ring there are plenty of people watching this competition. Our man on the mic Gerard Paisley has been encouraging the people who stop at the side barriers to have a look to come in and find a seat and watch what is happening in the ring. Certainly one of the better-attended Thursdays we have seen for quite a few years.

But before we progress we must mention the marvellous work that Gerard has put into today’s competition, apart from the usual announcements of the teams, the judges profile etc he has kept people informed on what is happening in each class and what the particular exercises are, a good idea for the non obedience members of the audience, as you never know some of them might just be interested enough to find out more about the sport. Not forgetting the constant reminders he has to give out reminding people that ‘flash photography’ is not allowed, something that never seems to sink in with some camera users.

Class ‘C’

The send away for this class is made up of two front markers which are four (plastic) house bricks stacked offset on top of each other, there are then two wooden strips going away behind them and a back marker in the same shape as the front ones but this time with seven bricks. The retrieve is a block with a rope handle going through it to form a circle.

Representing the South East & E.Anglia was Sally Davies with her BC/Munster ‘Jemas Sound of Music’, the retrieve over the hurdle saw a fast jump out with an almost perfect pick up on the article then back over the hurdle and just a slight impact in the front present as she applied her brakes a little late. The directed retrieve was quite costly, selecting dumbbell no.1. the dog was sent out, sniffed at the right one then decided she just had to go and check out the other two before going back to the right one, picking it up neatly and returning to the handler.

Following them into the ring was the team from the North of Jeny Miller with her GSD/BC ‘Foxfold Unexpected Edition ow, Cdex, Udex, Wdex, Tdex’. Starting off with the send away the dog was quite slow on the run out but held a very straight line and dropped instantly on command at the back marker, a patient wait and then a pick up straight into a very tight heel position, losing just 1 ½ marks which was by far the best in this exercise today. The heelwork started well with the dog instantly giving superb attention and as the round progressed they gave a display of accuracy in all three paces, the ASSD positions were well executed and the overall look was one of a dog and handler working with complete empathy for each other. Losing just 8 marks for the heelwork exercise, which was not bettered in this class.

In for Northern Ireland was Alison Pell with her BSD ‘Goldmali Cherish’, the third time they have represented their region in this competition. Into the send away and the dog ran out quickly on command seemed to be going straight and then veered towards the left hand side of the markers before dropping on command, slightly messy in the pick up as the brakes were not applied in time. In the heelwork the dog really tried hard to keep his position but seemed a little unsure going into some of the turns and just backed off slightly, a lovely transition into the fast pace in which the attention and position were held with ease, not giving much away at all in this pace.

All the teams had completed the ring work by 4.45 the 2-minute out of sight sit stay was next and all the dogs were clear on that exercise. So onto the scent, the handlers facing towards three lines of cloths going vertically away from them, the two outside lines consisted of three cloths with a decoy at number two, the middle line had four cloths in it and the judges cloth was in position three. Out of the seven teams competing, two failed the scent by returning with the decoy from the right hand side line. The other teams had scores ranging from ¼ to 10 marks lost. The main faults being lifting and dropping the decoys or the right cloth, very crooked presents and loose finishes.

The Individual winners of Class ‘C’ were Jeny Miller and ‘Chello’, they finished on a score of just 10 ½, a full 41¼ marks clear of the rest of the teams, certainly in a class of their own today.

So the end of today’s competition and once the scores had been checked and added up and places assigned, the place boards were bought out into the ring and the judge and his ring party entered for the last time and took up their place to one side of the ring, then the music started up and we had the final parade of competitors.

They all received a huge round of applause as they entered and made their way round the ring to take up their places ready for the presentations. Firstly we had the thank you and presentation to the judge, then the individual placings were announced and as each dog and handler came forward they received a big cheer and round of applause from the crowd.

Then the final award of the day and this years winners of the Inter Regional competition were announced as the Northern Team proudly led across to the first place board by their manager Pat Wilson, the applause and cheering from the stands was tremendous, into reserve were called the South & S. West team, who also received a loud cheer and applause from a very appreciative crowd, just two points split the teams today.

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