Mary at Crufts 2004
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As usual, Mary had a very busy time at Crufts. On the Wednesday she did a rehearsal of her new Heelwork to Music routine which was a magical performance based on the Harry Potter theme and considering it was the first time in a full-sized arena, she was very pleased with how it went.

Mary & Tina after winning the Mini Agility Championships

On the Thursday she was in the Obedience Championships with Quincy. He worked really well but unfortunately Mary had put on the wrong shoes so she didn’t feel very comfortable and it may have had an effect on Quincy but he did work well. The main problem was the sendaway which was four markers and you had to land the dog inside the box but unfortunately the judge had put his sign for the positions on the move about 10 feet behind the box. This was a large black sign in the format of a clapper board from the movies and it did draw an awful lot of dogs who had been trained to a back marker to run straight through the box and land in front of the back marker and this included Quincy. But nevertheless Mary was pleased with the work he did and he certainly did not disgrace himself.

Also on the Thursday, at the completion of Obedience in the Main Ring Mary had to hotfoot back up to Hall 3 to do an interview with the BBC Crufts programme presenter and they filmed the presenter doing some heelwork to music training with Kizzy. We still don’t know if they actually showed on television but the presenter really enjoyed himself.

On Friday, it was the Bitch Obedience Championships but Mary was very lucky because the draw for this allowed her also to run in the Mini Agility Championships which she had qualified for. So between working Kizzy in the Championships in Hall 5 she made two visits to the special events Ring in Hall 3 to run the jumping part of the championships followed by the agility part later in the day. She won both of these events with her super little Sheltie Tina who is owned by Shirley Turner and is our lodger and step-daughter at the moment - that’s Tina not Shirley!

In the Obedience with Kizzy, Mary was really pleased with how she worked. She had the right shoes on and Kizzy put in a stunning round but again unfortunately over-enthusiasm took her through the box and to the back marker. And although not in the top four, she wasn’t far behind.

On Friday evening in the Main Ring it was the Agility Championships Finals. Mary had such hard luck in the championship classes with Tina and she was really nervous. John Gilbert was the judge and he had set a very difficult course but Tina did a storming round, went into the lead and nobody could catch her. So Mary and Tina were winners of the Mini Agility Championships at Crufts 2004.

Saturday and Sunday were going to be busy days for Mary. On Saturday she was scheduled to do an interview with Jessica Holme of the BBC in the Special Events Ring which we had forgotten about so after a last-minute telephone call up she ran to the Special Events Ring. This was the short interview shown on BBC immediately before Mary’s routine went out on Sunday night. At 12:40 pm she had her first Harry Potter routine to perform in the Special Events Ring and considering it was her first performance, it didn’t go down too badly and just needed sharpening up somewhat. This year, she was using both our sheltie Gypsy and Quincy throughout the routine which, by necessity, limits the kind of moves that you can perform but demands a great deal of skill to work two dogs in a routine for five minutes especially when one of them is a Sheltie. But as I say Mary was very pleased with how it went. At 1:00 pm she was then on the Pedigree Stand for a 30 minute demonstration in a new area they had called Tricks and Training. There was an enormous crowd as Mary gave a demonstration of clicker training especially with some of the amusing antics that she can get her dogs to come up with. At 2:00 pm she was due to be back in the Special Events Ring but this time in her Rugby DTC outfit as she was representing the club in the Crufts Team Agility Semi Finals. In the team with her were Alan Disbery, Sue Wyatt and Charlie Wyatt and Deena Freeman was the reserve. There was jubilation all round when Rugby qualified for the final on the Sunday night by getting in the top two teams in this semi final, even though Zoe who Mary was running had five faults when she took the spread jump down.

At 3:00 pm Mary was due back on the Pedigree Stand for another demonstration in the Tricks and Training area so it was a quick change again and another enormous crowd to keep entertained for 30 minutes. At 5:25 pm she was due back into the Special Events Ring to do her final Harry Potter routine of the day. This was all of course rehearsals for the Main Ring on Sunday night but it was an absolute unmitigated disaster. What Mary did not know was that prior to her going into the arena, the Kennel Club safe and sound demonstration had been in with lots of children and in her words “the floor was awash with bits of dog treats”. She didn’t appreciate that when she went into the arena so when she started to do her routine the first thing she noticed was that Gypsy put down her nose and started to eat bits off the floor. And of course that’s all Gypsy was interested in. Shelties are Shelties I’m afraid and they love their food so Mary was almost in tears.

The pressure on Mary for coming up with a faultless routine for the BBC and the Best in Show audience on Sunday night was enormous so I’m sure you can imagine how she felt when it all fell apart.

Saturday evening, Mary was due to perform the routine in the Main Ring after everyone had gone for the BBC then it was to be a full dress rehearsal as usual, so before she did this she went into one of the empty breed rings to have a bit of a practice after the disaster earlier in the day. She had Jan Morse with her, who accompanies Mary everywhere at Crufts and is just so good I can’t say and also Kay Laurence who had her own trade stand at the show who hung on to help Mary as well. It is at times like these that you really appreciate having good friends. The idea of the dress rehearsal is so that the BBC know where they will place their cameras to see where they will shoot from and also as they use spot lights on Sunday night they know exactly what they are going to be eliminating. The routine went well which did Mary’s self-confidence a world of good and everyone seemed fairly pleased with the routine.

Sunday was due to be another busy day and as usual I got told off for arranging too much for her. At 10:00 am the people from the Samsung Canine Care Centre had requested a meeting with us. They had tried to arrange last year for Mary to visit South Korea but it didn’t come off and they were determined this year that it was going to happen. We know and have seen all the television programmes about what happens with some dogs in South Korea but in actual fact Samsung are working so hard to try to re-educate the population over there about the benefits of having dogs and they have a very big dog training facility and are actively teaching an d encouraging, obedience, agility, heelwork to music, guide dog training, search and rescue training etc etc. Whilst we were with Samsung, we met one very happy chappy called Douglas who was a member of the South Korean World Championships Agility Team which competed in France last September. I think from the whole team “enthusiasm” is the word I’m looking for – they are so enthusiastic about everything to do with dogs. Anyway, it looks like Mary may be calling in on South Korea on the way back from New Zealand later in the year.

Her first heelwork to music demonstration was at 11:45 am and although the routine went well, we think that Gypsy did remember that the night before she’d had a free dinner in the ring so she did lose her attention once or twice but Mary didn’t have much time to think about it when she came out as she had to move directly from the Special Events Ring to the Pedigree Stand for the first of her two clicker training demonstrations. This was to be followed by another one at 3:00 pm both of which once again were extremely popular with a very large audience. She was due back in the Special Events Ring at 5:15 pm to do her last Harry Potter demo but she decided that she was not going to risk that again so Kath, Lesley and Karen stepped into the breach and did their Top Lodge routine instead.

By now Mary was fairly stressed out. Not only had she got her routine to do live to a few million people on television but she was also in the final of the Crufts Team Agility for Rugby DTC and that was the first event to go that evening. During the competition it was touch and go and first Rugby went into the lead then into second place then back into the lead then back to second place. Pedigree used the big set of equipment in the Main Ring and there was a full-width spread in it and I was really apprehensive about Zoe doing it as she had crashed the spread in the Special Events Ring but no, I didn’t have worried as she went clear and Rugby DTC were the winners.

The winning Rugby DTC Team, Mary, Alan Disbery, Sue Wyatt, Charlie Wyatt and reserve Deena Freeman

But Mary didn’t have much time to celebrate because after the photographs she had to rush and get ready for her final Harry Potter routine. She was due into the ring at 8:26 pm and the plan was that they would show the 10 second interview then go live on Mary as she walked into the arena so she was in her position exactly on time with the BBC in front of her to give her the prompt. Well, they stood there for what seemed like an eternity as they were obviously running late and I think it was 8:29 pm when they entered the arena and after what had gone on the night before and bearing in mind that although Shelties are very clever little dogs they are not quite as reliable as a Border Collie we were all extremely nervous but I don’t think we were anywhere near as nervous as Mary was! Anyway, we needn’t have worried; there were a couple of things which were hardly noticeable and the routine overall was superb and just doing a choreographed routine with a Sheltie and a Border Collie was an achievement in itself. Whether Mary will ever do another two dog routine after all the stress is another question!

We watched the transmitted performance when we arrived home and the BBC had done an excellent job of the camera work and it was a very entertaining routine and looked quite stunning on television. Apart from what everyone didn’t realise, I think, and that was the fact that for some reason the music was stopped before the end which meant Mary could not do her finale in the Main Ring. We never asked the question why it happened but it did.

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