Well, it was a very busy run-up to Crufts. Mary had another training day at Rugby’s dog barn - a very successful day again and we will have to arrange some more training days for her in Rugby. We’re thinking of starting a regular Monday. I took an Essential Food Handling course at the Kennel Club along with a couple of girls from the club; as we seem to be doing more and more catering, I thought we’d better become legal. I was quite pleased that we all passed.
On 17th February Mary had a great Cabaret Night in Chelmsford, Essex. There were around 200 spectators and it was a great atmosphere with a really warm audience. I know it could be said that I’ve seen it all before, but the dogs are different on every one of these evenings and I think everyone really enjoyed themselves. At the beginning of February, we also held a small evening for Thames, mainly just for their members with around 90 in the audience. As a follow-on from this, Mary is taking a training day at the end of March for their obedience trainers to give them a bit of a refresher.
Apart from this, Mary was very busy practising for Crufts. She had Levi and Ozzy performing a routine on Best in Show Night to the western music ‘The Big Country’. Taz was in the Dog Obedience Championships and World Cup and Foxy was in the Bitch Obedience Championships. So there was plenty of practice to do!
Crufts is busy for both of us. On the Tuesday, I take over all the rosettes and trophies that have been delivered to me for Obedience, Agility and Heelwork to Music, then get the van loaded when I come back with everything we need, not only for staying over until the following Monday but also for Mary’s trade stand which was again in Hall 1. On Wednesday, it was back to the NEC again but this time to move into the Metropole for the duration and, of course, to set up Mary’s trade stand with Pauline, Mary’s sister, and Pauline Churchill, who would be working the stand for the whole of the show. Also coming with us was Jan Morse, who was Mary’s ‘right-hand man’ for the show (or should I say ‘woman’?)
My time at Crufts is completely committed to the Main Arena and opening the Obedience Arena with the parade each morning while Mary has to go off and do whatever she needs to do. On the Thursday, she did a 20-minute training display in the Main Arena and we were very surprised afterwards at how many people saw it as the whole Main Arena programme was streamed directly onto the Crufts website. It was quite amazing really as people were watching from all over the world - really a tremendous innovation for Crufts.
Later in the day, Mary was performing a one-hour demonstration on the Samsung stand which she always enjoys doing.
On the Friday, Mary started with the Dog Obedience Championshps and first into the arena was Taz. Mary was really pleased with his heel work but unfortunately when she sent him on the sendaway someone took a flash photograph and he stopped in his tracks. So that effectively put him out of any likelihood of a placing. Also he lost confidence and didn’t do his distance control so we would like to send a very big thank you to people who use a camera and, although numerous requests are made for no flash photography, nevertheless they carry on and take photos with the flash switched on. I hope they were pleased with themselves.
On the Saturday, it was the Bitch Obedience Championships. Mary was really pleased with Foxy’s round, especially as this was her first time at Crufts. All her exercises were good except for sendaway where she slowed at the front marker and the judge deducted 10 and she only lost 22 altogether. So it was a good result overall.
In the World Cup on the Sunday, again Taz did all the exercises well and Mary was really pleased with him; in fact, Taz had the best heel work mark of the day. But following his experiences in the Dog Obedience Championships, he slowed and dropped between the front markers on sendaway, obviously due to lack of confidence from the flash photograph on Friday. But still the England team were in with a chance of winning when the scent exercise started but unfortunately Taz failed scent. All the teams were supposed to parade in the Main Arena but it was a great shame that the competition did not actually finish until after 6:00 pm and they missed their slot.
It was a quick change after the World Cup on Sunday for Mary as it was Best in Show Night. Again, it was streamed live over the internet and also on the More4 DFS Crufts television programme. But unfortunately a lot of people were disappointed because although you could hear Mary’s music playing behind Claire Balding, they didn’t join Mary until half-way through the routine so anyone who was relying on television missed nearly half of her routine. It was a great HTM routine, very tasteful, and as usual with the emphasis on the dog and handler working in unison - or should I say dogs. Little Ozzy joined Mary for the last part of the routine and did something a little bit different by weaving round and underneath Levi, so that went down really well with the audience.
So we were both a little bit worn out when we got home on the Monday and Ann Bulke from Australia came back to stay with us for a few days prior to visiting her relatives in Ireland. It was also good to see Amanda and Jill Houston from Perth. Jill was very well known in obedience over here until she emigrated; I’m sure a lot of people still remember her and she is now very successful in Australia.
The show season is now just up and coming but there are a few events along the way. On 27th April, Mary has a Cabaret Night on the HTM World Championship Fundraising night at Stoneleigh. We have a British team going over to compete in Denmark in the HTM/Freestyle World Championships and as they have to fund themselves, there is a lot of fundraising going on at the moment. Indeed, Rugby DTC has made a substantial contribution towards their fund. On this particular evening, Kath Hardman, Carole and Michelle Dodson, Gina Pink, Penny Draper and Jenny Deakin will all be performing routines and doing some busking. There is a bumper raffle and auction and Mary will be performing her Crufts routine and has also been allocated a cabaret spot. So it should be a great night.
For further details of 27th April , see below:
Venue: The Kennel Club Building, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire
Contact: For information & ticket sales: www.teamgbhtm.blogspot.com
or email HTMTeamGB@live.co.uk
Ring Kath Hardman 07759 909101 or Jenny Deakin on tel. 01608 682314