Group championship shows have always been very popular in the U.K. dog scene. Quite why I’m not sure, but it’s certainly a fact that the atmosphere is always so much better than at the general championship shows.
In the U.K. at this time, venues are getting harder and harder to find. It would be easier, I think, if our climate was more predictable. You can have three seasons in one day here — a nightmare for organizers. An indoor venue most used, and to be honest I think more popular, is the Stafford Showground. The venue would be about 30 minutes from the main city of Birmingham, in the West Midlands. Used an awful lot by many agricultural shows, though sometimes you can tell when cattle have been there the week before!
Of the seven different groups, four of them use this venue, and only hold one championship show a year. The others — Working, Herding and Gundogs — have two, one in England and one in Scotland.
The United Kingdom Toydog Show was celebrating its 50th year this year, and they certainly made it memorable. The secretary is Tom Mather, probably better known as chairman of Crufts.
The Toy Group has been such a strong group — in fact, I think, THE strongest now for many years. We have several young breeders, as well as the older generation, who work really hard to produce the best of their breeds. Also the atmosphere among the Toy people is better than many of the other groups, and this is very evident when you visit the UK Toy show.
As I said, Tom Mather is the secretary, and he has surrounded himself with a very young committee. Well, after all, these youngsters are the future of the sport, and I feel strongly that they should be included in the management of shows as well.
As it turned out, both the top awards went to the younger generation when BIS was awarded to the Bichon Frise Ch. Ashoka Blaze of Glory, owned by Sharon Walton and handled by Tamara Dawson; and the Reserve to the big-winning Chinese Crested Ch. Habiba Hold my Purse, owned by Robert Dunlop all the way from Scotland.
The very next week, same venue, different layout, was The National Terrier Championship Show, the only group championship show for the Terriers. There were 1,235 Terriers entered, and as you would expect there were some real hard-bitten Terrier men there, so there was intense interest in their own breeds. Secretary here is Stuart Plane, fresh from his BIS appointment at Crufts. In fact, in years gone by, Mr. Charles Crufts himself was involved in the early days of the society as secretary up until 1913. Next year it will celebrate its 120th year since its inception in 1903! It is in fact the oldest of all the group championships by quite a large margin.
It was good to see Bruce Schwartz visiting. I believe Bruce was on a tour of Europe, so I trust he enjoyed his visit. Comparing this show with Montgomery, though, would be silly; they are miles apart, both in distance and glamour.
There was great excitement in the Australian Terrier ring when Ch./Am Ch. Temora The Hawk took Best of Breed, bred by Julie Seaton in the U.S., and sired by GChG Temora Say It With Bacon. (What a wonderful name, LOL!)
Staffordshire Terrier person Colin Powell judged BIS, and his winner was Bill Brown Coles’ Ch. Travella Secret Asset. This kennel has produced many top Wires over many years, and in fact Bill’s father went BIS here way back, so steeped in history.
Reserve Best in Show, well, that went to a very smart Soft Coated Wheaten, Ch. Flaxella Perfect Storm. Trimming of this breed here is a little different from those in the U.S. — tidied, but not quite as tight as you like in the U.S. I’m keeping out of that discussion!