Crufts Diary 2015 – Bitch Obedience Championships

By: Susan & Gemma Henshaw

Before today’s competition got underway we were informed that three of the teams would not be competing for varying reasons.

Unfortunately Michelle Newman’s beautiful GSD ‘Kanya Keep Kool’ is still recovering from an operation which she had to have on an injured tail, hopefully they will grace the green carpet here in 2016. Jodi Lunn and her WS ‘Longhalves Fast N Furious’ miss their debut here as the dog’s puppies are due today and Ann Northfield has also withdrawn ‘Iatka Star Performer’.

Getting started at 8.40am the judge and her ring party took up their positions at the side of the ring so that they could wish the teams all the best at the end of the parade, then the music of ‘Here comes the girls’ resounded from the speakers and the parade got underway, already quite a good crowd in the stands and each team got a very enthusiastic greeting, with the contingent from Wales making their presence felt.

As crufts officially opened at 9am we had the introduction of the judge for the next two days of competition, Sandra Gordon, who started in Obedience 50 years ago taking up her first judging appointment in 1968 at Ayr, she went on to judge her first ‘Ticket’ show in 2002 at Litchfield. Sadly Sandra’s husband Derek passed away suddenly in 2013, he had helped her with lots of the preparation for this Championships, including helping to choose the colour of the outfits, in his memory Sandra and her ring party and many of the other people involved in the running of this event are wearing a small corsage of flowers which include a Scottish thistle.

The judge was wearing black trousers and top with a white jacket trimmed with black piping, the ladies in the ring party were in black suits with white blouses and the gentleman steward was in a black suit, white shirt and a black tie with a stripe in it, all looking very comfortable and smart.

The send away for today was made up of four square boards with a chequerboard pattern on them and then a larger board as the back marker with the same pattern on it. The retrieve was a small hoop with black and white fabric strips tied around it. For the heelwork, going along the same side of the ring as the commentary position there was a gentle arc of weave poles, to be used one way at slow pace and then both ways at normal pace.

Getting today’s competition underway was Karen Davies with her 6½ year old BC ‘Ob Ch Stillmoor Celtic Banner ow’, starting with the retrieve the dog went out to the article at a good pace, neatly picked it up and returned to a slightly crooked present and finish. The send away saw a steady run out to the back marker, not bothering at all with the front ones, an instant down on command, a quicker run back to the heel position and picked up into it with ease. They finished their round off with the DC exercise, with the dog giving total concentration to the handler and performing the positions with ease and hardly any movement, marked clear on that exercise.

Running at no.3 with the first of the two dogs she had qualified for today was Linda Rutherford with ‘Ob Ch Lupitoonz Limelite’, the heelwork exercise started on a diagonal line from the middle of the ring towards a large circle in one corner, on which the first ASSD position (stand) would be asked for, the team started well, very accurate on the circle, the dog maintaining a lovely position but slight errors crept in as the round progressed. Linda worked with a very controlled stride and the footwork on the slow pace from both the handler and the dog was superb, the dog looked like a coiled spring waiting to unwind, just a few turns not being squared off fully and some overturning on a few of the left turns, the fast pace simply flowed, dog and handler in unison and lovely to watch.

In at no.6 was Philomena Barnes and her 10-year-old ws ‘Ob Ch Bheinn Bewitched’ their 5th appearance here at Crufts. The retrieve first and a very fast run out to the article but a slight scoop on the pick up, then quickly back into a very straight present and tight finish, losing just ½ mark on the exercise. In the send away the dog ran out at speed, no hint of any slowing or deviation, dropped on command just at the right hand side of the back marker, a quick run on the call and she managed to put the brakes on just in time to pick up into the heel position. The DC was textbook, very attentive, instant positions on the spot and marked clear.

Entering the ring at no.9 were Madge Thompson and ‘Ob Ch Forever Magic It’s Trendy’ winners of this championship class in 2013. Later in that year ‘Trendy’ suffered a very bad injury to her left front leg and for a time it seemed that her career in obedience would be at an end, but she came through it all and it was nice to see this pair on the green carpet once again. After a slightly messy retrieve the dog settled well going into the heelwork, there was a touch of crabbing on some of the longer straights but she held lovely attention throughout. The ASSD down position was instant followed by a very neat pick up into heel. The transition up into fast pace was spot on and the pace flowed across the ring, very accurate in position throughout this pace. Madge handled this dog beautifully and the teamwork shone through.

We then had a break for 20 minutes, the seats had been almost full for the majority of the morning, creating a good atmosphere around the ring and the audience were giving generous applause for the teams as they entered the ring and when they had finished.

After the break the next team in was Dot Watts with ‘Ob Ch Zigdann Rocking Frenzi’, the 6th appearance for this team here at Crufts, and another dog that is coming back from injury. Starting with the retrieve the dog went out at a steady pace, picked up the article very neatly, returned quicker and knocked through the legs of the handler in the present. Into the heelwork and the ASSD stand position on the circle was solid with the dog motionless as the handler continued walking round the circle and the dog picked up neatly into the heel position.  The attention and position held by the dog was lovely to watch, as was the relaxed style of handling; the paces were well defined with instant reaction when asked to go into the next pace. Giving very little away in the heelwork exercise losing just 6 marks, which would remain the best heelwork score of the competition.

In the ring at No.13 was Mary Vessey and her 11-year-old BC ‘Ob Ch Fenellark Charleston’ the dog settled quickly in the heelwork exercise, and showed a lovely flowing movement in whatever pace she was worked at. The turns were neat and very nicely squared off, especially the left about turn. Slow pace was carried out at a well-measured step from both handler and dog with the dog’s attention throughout fully on the handler, the transitions between the paces were performed with ease. This team gave an overall impression of thoroughly enjoying their work.

Following them into the ring was Jane Moran with ‘Ob Ch Dusters Done N Dusted’ starting with the retrieve, a quick run out to the article, a very gentle pick up then turned and straight back into a good present and tight finish, losing just ¾ mark. The heelwork exercise saw good definition between the paces and instant ASSD positions. The work through the weave was accurate with the dog really striving to maintain her position, just the odd turn not quite squared off by the dog, but the rest of the heelwork gave very little away, they lost just 7½ marks on this exercise, the second best score of the day. Finishing off their ring work with the DC exercise, very accurate on the positions, with total attention on the handler but just jumped a little on the last stand position.

Next in was Lisa Brannan and her 9½ yr old ‘Ob Ch. Moakies Mystical Moment’, the retrieve saw a neat pick up on the article, just a touch of mouthing on the return into a straight present and finish. After a good heelwork round onto the send away and one of the straightest run outs of the day, at a good steady pace with no slowing, dropped instantly on command almost exactly in front of the back marker, an attentive wait then a fast run at the call and applied the brakes just in time for a very close pick up into the heel position. They were the only team to go clear on this exercise today, and then finished their ring work with a textbook DC exercise, no movement, accurate positions and marked clear. A cracking round.

A debut at Crufts for the team of Lyn Collins and her WS ‘Gypton Just A genius’, started well in the heelwork exercise with the dog instantly holding a very tight position with lovely attention, the slow pace showed neat footwork from both handler and dog with total concentration on the movements. Unfortunately the ASSD down saw a double movement as the dog sat first then went into the down. Going into fast pace there was a slight drop of position with some overturning on the right and about turns, then she sat crooked on the last halt but quickly corrected herself. The DC exercise was very controlled the dog giving accurate positions on command with hardly a hint of any movement, marked clear.

A break for lunch until 1.15pm which just about gave people the chance to grab something to eat and perhaps have a quick look at some of the stands in the adjoining hall, then back to the seats ready for the next team to work, certainly a good crowd in the stands today and they are greeting each team with equal enthusiasm.

Penultimate team in the ring was Wendy Birch and ‘Gypton Just Della Of Greyvalley’, the dog looked confident as they set off in the heelwork, but just seemed to hesitate a little as the handler turned left onto the circle, the again at the first ASSD position (stand) but regained her confidence as the round progressed, the slow pace was superb to watch as the dog tried hard to maintain her position throughout the pace and succeeded, giving lovely attention.  An easy transition up into fast pace which was carried out at a good stride, really suiting the dog. In the send away the dog ran out at a good pace but veered towards the left hand side of the front marker, straightened herself up to go through the middle and dropped on command at the back marker, picked up quickly on call and straight into a very well braked heel position.

Last team into the ring work section today was Dominique Ficek with her BC ‘ De Risen Extra Hot’, the first German competitor to qualify a dog through to the Crufts Championship Obedience. The dog settled quickly into a very tight position in the heelwork, looking completely at ease in the ring, the normal pace was worked well, with an active stride from the handler suiting the dog perfectly, lovely upright handling making it all look easy. Some bits of forward working in the slow pace and pushing forward a little on some of the turns but holding superb attention throughout. The fast pace flowed and the definition between all three paces was easy to see. The send away saw a very quiet, short set up and the dog went out at a good pace straight to the back marker, an instant drop on command then a very fast run back in a well held heel position. Finished off their ring work with a clear DC exercise, which was lovely to watch.

By 1.55pm all the ring work had finished and after a short break the stewards started to lay out the scent cloths. The competitors would be facing towards the centre of an arc of cloths, starting from the left hand side the third cloth would be the female decoy, the judges cloth would be in position five and the ninth cloth would be the male decoy. Ten cloths in total

Working in their running order so first in for scent was Karen Davies with ‘Lolly’, the dog ran straight out to the right hand side of the arc. Checked the first five cloths, found the right one and returned to a good present and finish, losing just ½ mark. Next in was Marie Cartwright and ‘Ob Ch Dodgin Firecracker’, the dog going straight out to the cloths and proceeded to check each one twice, neatly picked up the judges cloth and returned quickly but bumped through her legs on the present, losing ¾ mark.

Lyn Tozer and her WS ‘Ob Ch Whatnow Pop Tonic’ were in at No.4, this being ‘Shambles’ retirement party, unfortunately she didn’t quite finish on a high note as she bought back one of the decoy cloths, obviously wanted to finish her way! Following them into the ring was Jane Bint and ‘Janyjoy Jumpin Jaro’, the dog going out to the right hand side of the arc, checking each cloth carefully until she reached the right one, a very positive find, then quickly back into a straight present.

Team No.7 in the running order Jenny Gould and her GSD ‘Ob Ch Zakanja Little Creature’ had retired after the ring work, so next in was Madge Thompson and ‘Trendy’, the dog checking each cloth with care, working back along the line, picked up the right one and returned smartly to a very good present and finish, the only clear scent of the day.

The team in the lead after the ring work was Dot Watts and ‘Frenzi’, so everyone’s attention was on them as they came in for this exercise, The dog going straight out over the cloths, making sure that she checked each one, turned back along the line, picked up the judges cloth and returned to a neat present and finish, losing just ¼ mark and maintaining their lead.

A team new to crufts this year was June Stenning and ‘Iatka Starshine’, and the dog gave a very polished scent exercise, checked the cloths from the right hand side first and worked her way round the arc, found the right one and not bothering to check out any of the others past it, straight back to the front present, losing just ¾ mark. Coming into the ring we had the popular team of Pat Watson and ‘Ob Ch Forever Magic It’s Flicker’, and the dog followed the same style of working the pattern as many of the others, straight out to the right hand side of the arc, a careful check on each cloth until the judges one then a good pick up and straight back into a very neat present and finish, losing ¼ mark.

Next in was Linda Rutherford with her WS ‘Ob Ch Colliewood Confidential’, the dog unfortunately picking up the male decoy cloth, looking certain that she had found the right one and returning to the handler. Last in the ring for this exercise was Dominique Ficek with ‘Spicey’, the dog performed a very controlled search over the cloths, a positive find and returned to a neat present and finish, they lost ½ mark.

With scent finished we had a short break whilst the stewards prepared the ring for the stay exercises, a 2-minute sit and a 10-minute down, both with handlers out of sight. Thankfully all the dogs were marked clear. Like previous years we were amazed at how many people stood and watched this exercise from the side barriers, looking completely in awe of these dogs staying in one position in the ring without their handlers.

As the ring emptied after stays we had the announcement that there would be a run off for the reserve placing between Karen Davies and ‘Lolly’ and Dominique Ficek and ‘Spicey’, we were then treated to the sight of both of these teams working their socks off in another round of heelwork, which was precise, controlled and superb to watch, but must have been very hard to split them.

There was quite a big crowd in the stands waiting for the results, firstly we had the introduction of the judge and her ring party who were acknowledged by a massive round of applause, then as the excitement grew the final parade got under way, with ‘We Are The Champions’ belting from the speakers, each team greeted with enthusiasm by the audience.

Then the announcement we had all been waiting for, Crufts Bitch Obedience Champions 2015 were Dot Watts and ‘Ob Ch Zigdann Rockin Frenzi’, and as they came forward to the 1st place board the crowd erupted in appreciation of their win. This being the 5th time Dot has won the Obedience Championships here at Crufts and in doing so today has set a new record. To say she was beaming would be an understatement.

Then the reserve was announced  and that went to Karen Davies and ‘Ob Ch Stillmoor Celtic Banner’ and they were greeted with a huge round of applause and cheering.

Third place went to Dominique Ficek and ‘Spicey’, fourth place to Jane Moran and ‘Nellie’, fifth place to Madge Thompson and ‘Trendy’ and finally sixth place to Lisa Brannan and ‘Trixie’, what a fantastic competition and line up; we could not wait to see what tomorrow would bring.

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