Crufts Bounces Back
The moment that many people around the world of dogs have desperately been waiting for over the last two years finally arrived at the NEC, Birmingham in the UK as the world-famous Crufts Dog Show took place after an enforced Covid break.
For Patrick Oware from Norway, it was a genuine dream come true moment as Baxer the Flat Coat Retriever became the Crufts Best in Show winner 2022 under judge Stuart Plane.
History show that this is the third Flat coat to win BIS at Crufts and what a popular win it seemed to be, not only on the night but also on social media which exploded with congratulations and best wishes from all over the world. Of course, it helped that Sunday was Gundog Day as the Arena was packed with gundog followers and they raised the roof for Baxer as he did his lap of honour together with Waffle the equally popular Toy Poodle who just continued to strut his stuff for handler and co-owner Tom Isherwood.
Speaking to Patrick after the show, he told me that he could not help smiling as he moved the dog for the judge Stuart Plane (above) and both he and Baxer felt the adrenalin rush which he felt with the support from the crowd. An emotional Patrick, supported by a Scandinavian group of friends and supporters added, “Words cannot describe how I feel. Baxer winning the most prestigious award in the dog show world is just unbelievable.
Thank you, Baxer, for being the best companion, enriching my life every single day
Also, at this moment I want to take this opportunity to thank the judges who have Baxer the highest awards at Crufts, breed judge Mrs. Vivienne Bowen, Group judge Mr. Sigurd Wilberg and of course Best in Show judge Stuart Plane - thank you for considering Baxer worthy of this outstanding award, and for making a dream a reality”
Patrick and the Scandinavian support team were heading back home on Monday having adjusted their travel plans! Enroute in Brussels, Patrick posted on social media, “A longer post will come in time, when we are back home and I have realized this actually did happen.”
That was the first word used by Swedish breeder Ragnhild Ulin of the Almanza kennels after the win…but eventually Ragnhild said, “I don’t have enough words to describe how proud I am of Baxer and Patrick.
"Their special bond and love is so genuine and beautiful to watch, my tears were falling and I enjoyed every single minute following them on livestream!
"I really want to say thousand THANK YOU’s to Patrick! His dedicated everyday care and love of our jewel Baxer, giving him the best life, a dog can ever wish for, is of course the impressive” work” behind this outstanding performance, and this unexpected, spectacular and special achievement to become Best in show at Crufts. I am also very proud for the breed in my heart!”
Looking back to previous winners, Ragnhild added, “Two marvellous black Flatcoats have become BIS at Crufts before, Ch Shargleam Blackcap and Ch Vbos the Kentuckian. I had the privilege to see the former win in 1980; a memory for life! And now Baxer is making history as the first LIVER to repeat this! And thank you from the bottom of my heart for all congratulations and comments from people all over the world. I’m touched over your beautiful messages, phone calls, flowers”
There were thanks also for Patrick and Susanne Karlström from the Almanza Kennels and all the support team who experienced these exceptional moments together.
In 2015, Anette Dyren also from Sweden, took the group and Reserve BIS with Dublin (Ch Castlerock Simply Magic) a Flat Coated Retriever …so the breed is doing quite well at Crufts!
The little showman, the Toy Poodle known as Waffle also captured hearts and minds at Crufts with his showstopping performance, not once letting up for Tom Isherwood…apart from a quick ‘pee break’ as he entered the ring on Sunday night much to everyone’s amusement! Waffle is co-owned by Tom, Jason Lynn, Sandra Stone and Mr John Shaw who has had previous success at Crufts winning best in show with the Tibetan Terrier know as Fabulous Willie back in 2007. John has an eye for a great dog and as President of the Kennel Club in Hong Kong wants to continue to spread the gospel about responsible dog ownership in that part of the world. John has shown Pekes successfully in the US and UK for a number of years.
Toms initial response to taking reserve BIS was, “I’m gobsmacked, it’s totally unbelievable. Waffle is a dream!” That’s another dream come true!"
Tom later said, “I am always excited as Crufts approaches, this year; with the awful experience of covid and the current conflict, I think we all welcomed the positive distraction that Crufts would bring.
"I was proud of Waffle before Crufts so you can imagine as the show progressed how thrilled I was to win the breed under one of our most respected poodle specialists Dianne Smith. Winning the group under Rodney Oldham an iconic breeder from within the Utility group was like a dream come true again.
"On Sunday night I knew I couldn’t lose, as no matter what happened there would be no losers in the fabulous BIS line up! When Stuart Plane (another world class breeder) pointed to Waffle for the prestigious Reserve spot I was overwhelmed with emotion and pride. I have the utmost respect for great breeders and as such I felt it was a total privilege to stand on the podium next to Patrick Oware’s beautiful Flat coat another great in a long line from the legendary Almanza kennel of Ragnhild Ulin.”
Well said, Tom, who on Tuesday this week was back in the kennels for the day-to-day dog grooming job! No rest then, Tom! Tom, Mike Gadsby and Jason Lynn are no strangers to the big ring at Crufts, having graced the BIS green carpet on a number of occasions in the past and are well know in Poodle circles on both sides of the Atlantic
The fact that the show actually took place was in itself a minor miracle bearing in mind the events in the world in the last year or so and then heightened stress again at the start of March with the conflict in Ukraine.
Many people had wondered what Crufts would be like this year…the first Crufts to be unaffected by Covid for quite a while. The show in 2020 had seen late withdrawals of some major stands (Royal Canin for example) and then of course theevent did not take place in 2021. Only until a few weeks ago, we were all still obliged to wear masks in shops in the UK and being Covid aware and yet here we were at Crufts with 131,000 enjoying the world’s most famous canine extravaganza
When you looked at the crowds, for example, around the ever-popular Discover Dogs area you realised that Crufts was definitely back with a bang.
Clearly there had been issues in a number of areas. The crisis in Ukraine had resulted in no Russian exhibitors or press at the show; the entry for the show had been announced a while ago as being down and there were less overseas entries. In fact, there were only 9 dogs entered from the USA and just one from the entire continent of Asia. The stats showed that the overseas entry was down to around 1800 dogs, normally more about 3,500/4,000. Italy provided the highest total outside the UK with 265 dogs making the trip and 244 from nearby Ireland. Total number of dogs for the record was 16,296
It appeared in some parts of the massive showground that there was more space with fewer entries and also trade stands which in fact was one aspect that some exhibitors and visitors liked; there seemed to be extra areas for actually sitting down and having a coffee in Hall 3 for example. Even though there were less stands, it did not stop the canine shopaholics from indulging in their annual splurge at Crufts judging by the number of trolleys and bags being carried around the shopping areas
Many people had arranged fund raising activities for Ukraine.
The Kennel Club Charitable Trust stand was a focus of attention for the fundraising activity for the Ukraine crisis for people and dogs after the KC and KCCT had pledged £50,000 jointly
At the time of going to press, that total had exceeded £114,000…amazing support from the world of dogs. A number of General Championship shows started to make generous donations during the show and the effect snowballed as the initial £50,000 grew and grew as the show went along. The first tranche of this money was due to be transferred the week after Crufts to the FCI special account set up for Ukraine relief
Moving on to the many other aspects of Crufts that gave a welcome distraction from world news, it seemed like Crufts had never been away with all the usual and extensive range of activities and canine disciplines reappearing.
Other events took place like the Interregional Rally and Obedience competitions in Hall 5, the popular and growing Kennel Club Breeders stakes, KC Vulnerable Breeds, Young Kennel Club events in its own ring, Friends for Life, police dog displays, an exciting record breaking flyball competition won by a team from Belgium and much more…the list is endless! The whole event certainly resonates with the general public, despite the perennial moans from the activists (PETA) of this world who just don’t seem to get that people actually LIKE Crufts, dog shows and pedigree dogs in general! From an exhibitor and judges’ point of view, it’s a tough show with a lot of walking if you have two breeds in different halls. The long hike to the Arena for group judging was an issue for some with one judge asking why they were given seats, ‘in the Gods’ at the top of the seating area. There is still resistance to Crufts’s hosting non pedigree activities at what is the world’s most foremost pedigree dog event, while others say it’s a great way to get them involved in the show world.
Kennel Club Chairman Tony Allcock told me that initially he was unsure (like many of us) how things would be this year but was delighted with how the whole show went and praised the hardworking Crufts and KC team who clicked into place despite the two-year absence. Stalwart KC staff member Sue Sampson did a great job in the Hilton Hotel as the judges meet and greet person and also assisting with all the group winners
Fosse Data provided the results and for the first time ever, stewards in the rings recorded the results on I pads…all seemed to work well.
Peter Green and Beth Sweigart with Crufts chairman Tom Mather (center).
Downside for some was the lack of any Crufts souvenirs or merchandise stand and also no overseas lounge this year...it’s a popular meeting place; it was good to see Peter Green and Beth Sweigart at the show alongside Mr DN himself, Gene Zaphiris.
From left, Vince Hogan, Lady and Lord Kirkham, and Gene Zaphiris.
New (ish!) Kennel Club Chief Executive Mark Beazley enjoyed his first full Crufts show, now he has had some time to really get to know things. At the after-show party, Crufts committee Chairman Tom Mather thanked all the staff and read out some of the stats for the extensive coverage of the show in the media, both in print and online with a very high following on all social platforms. Tom also made a presentation to KC Board member Gill Averis who is retiring and also to the popular Crufts team member Tracey Harris who is also retiring from the Crufts team after many years dealing with the trade stand side of things. Tom also pointed out that Crufts could not take place without the support of 5000 volunteers who help stage the show and how vital and appreciated their input is.
By midnight on Sunday night, the NEC looked a different place from just a few hours previously but what memories many dog people had to take away with them as Crufts proved once more to be an enduring success whatever seems to come its way. Next stop Paris for the European Dog Show in April!