125 years of Crufts and I was there
I had been to Crufts before, the most prestigious dog show in the world, held annually in the NEC in Birmingham under the auspices of the Kennel Club, but only as a spectator, this year I am going as an exhibitor and that is very different, it gives you more of an “us” feeling
And this year is a very special one because it is the 125th anniversary of Crufts and a record number of dogs are taking part, nearly 22,000 from nearly all the countries in the world.
It had been on my bucket list for a while ….. to strut the green carpet of Crufts with a home bred dog and this year I took the plunge
My home bred Pembrokeshire Welsh Corgi “Y Ddraig Goch Knight of Manorbier”, better known by hit pet name “Tuur” or for the real insiders “Tuureluur” had qualified for Crufts twice in 2015 (you can’t just enter Crufts with a foreign dog, you have to qualify in a special show outside Britain, each country has one or two qualifying shows appointed by Crufts)
So this year I bit the bullet, and a line was drawn on my bucket list “competing at Crufts with my home-bred dog”. The moment I struck it off, I see the previous item crossed off “to breed the first DM clear litter in the Netherlands” and that was in 2015 too, another milestone, these two achievements so close together made me think again about our breed …beauty and health together with a reliable character, my personal aim in breeding.
Once I had decided to take part there was still a lot to do because spectating at Crufts is very different from taking part, like entering and all the extras. Travelling there as a spectator I would fly, nice and fast and direct, but now I had to organize the train or boat because we would go by car, and an hotel for a few days where dogs are welcome
The first challenge was entering, in Britain there are very different classes than the ones we know, luckily I know some doggy people in Britain who were happy to help me. Eventually Tuur was entered and I just had to hope I had done it correctly because I did not get a confirmation, so it was a question of waiting for further notice as that would only be posted 2 weeks before the show
And yes, it had worked and the proof of entry arrived by snail mail 3 weeks before the show with a lot more information about the show
So everything was ready to roll, extra worming and Rabies for Tuur, the Eurotunnel, the hotel … all the paperwork is in … the fun can begin
For those of you who are interested, the costs so far are €40 entry fees, € 50 extra vaccinations, health check, rabies, etc, € 250 tunnel, € 300 hotel excluding breakfast, € 250 fuel, parking etc, €250 food, drink etc, , € 370 unexpected expenses …. So in all we counted on € 1500 for five minutes on the green carpet because I do not expect to win anything, taking part is more important .
In the run up for Crufts I gathered information about the Dutch bred Corgi at Crufts in the 125 years it has been held. But that was easier said than done … there is not much information about foreign entries, certainly not before 2001 when there was still 6 month quarantine for dogs from the continent. That no longer applied after 2001, but shortly after that the ATC (Authority To Compete) came into force which is an extra hurdle for overseas dogs and on top of that the Crufts qualifier the
dog has to have ( to start with that had to be at one show in each country, more recently there are 2 shows per country), so the chance of seeing a foreign dog at Crufts increased considerably since 2001, but has decreased rapidly because of all the all the conditions imposed. And if that is not enough to put you off, there is the amount of money involved, in my case € 1500
The two weeks leading up to it are already fun, many warnings from others that everything must be in order for the customs, not least the pet passport as they are very strict about that, one week before leaving Tuur has to be wormed with a special wormer which contains praziquantel. And everything has to be filled in very correctly by the vet, signed and laminated so there can be no fraud with the dog’s pass port.
I did have to go back to the vet because the valid dates for the Rabies vaccine said 2014 – 2017, and the vet had made a mistake and written 2015 and then corrected it. My vet assured me this would not be a problem with the customs …. But there was because the French customs officer alerted me to the fact that there had been an “alteration” to the date of the Rabies vaccination, so there we were, not allowed on the train to Britain! Luckily there was a friendly vet on duty who told the customs officer that 2014/2017 was correct and it was a genuine error by my vet. Luckily we were allowed through but with a warning that I would have to have the date changed in a different coloured ink with my vet’s signature and laminated …. Off to the train because now Tuur can come, we still have to go through passport control.
Check in was very quick, my number plate was recognized by the cameras ( you had to give these details on booking as well as details of the passengers) .. buttons were pressed twice and we could proceed to the French customs for people and goods … everything was fine, we could proceed to the British customs, where we were asked a few questions about where we were from and we were asked to open the car for them to have a look .. everything was OK and we were wished “good luck at Crufts” by a very friendly customs officer. On to the train where we boarded immediately because we did not have to wait for our train and could catch an earlier one if we wanted and of course we did. Boarding was quick and after about a 10 minute wait for the train to fill, we sped under the Channel , 30 minutes and we can see daylight again …. Folkestone
Driving on the left straight away is a good idea and according to my chauffeur and husband not a problem, it is easy! There too everything goes smoothly, except for a traffic jam (it is Thursday 4pm local time and the English want to go home too after work) on the M25, the Southern ringroad around London … an hour and a half delay and then speedy progress, it is beginning to get dark when we get to Warwick and the turning for Coventry to our hotel. We arrive in our hotel at 7pm and are helped to check in by a friendly member of staff, Tuur gets a pat on the head and is very welcome in the hotel too, you notice that England is very animal friendly and dogs are almost sacred, they are allowed to do anything there and are spoiled rotten.
Food and bed … the next day a visit to Crufts, but without the dog because only entered or invited dogs are allowed in. I want to show Peter Crufts before we have to go there with Tuur on Saturday because Peter (and many others) have an image of a show like the “Winner” or the Bundessieger as being big …. They have never seen Crufts, I think the NEC in Birmingham where Crufts is held every year is 5 times as big as our MECC in Maastricht. Crufts can’t be compared to any other show. And Peter discovered this when we parked the car in the north car park and could have taken the shuttle
to the show, but we didn’t because Peter wanted to walk … from the car park to the halls was a brisk 20 minute walk, which works out at nearly 3 km.
And then we get to the show … Peter can’t believe his eyes and after half an hour of just looking at stalls where they sell all sorts of things, even pots and pans, knives, ties and socks we arrive in Hall 5, one of the 6 halls where Crufts is being held, one hall is nearly as big as the whole of the RAI ..hundreds/thousands of dogs and people!!! Peet can’t believe his eyes and says “we have a late start tomorrow, at 10 am, I think we will leave the hotel at 7am otherwise we will never make it”, I am glad he said that because that is why I showed him Crufts now, so he knows what awaits us on Saturday
Back to the hotel to dot the i’s and cross the t’s and get Tuur ready for tomorrow … “D- Day”.
Saturday, 12t March 2016, up early, don’t forget to take anything, get in the car … off to Crufts in Birmingham, 15 minute drive, 15 mins to park, 15/20 minutes carting trolley and stuff, on arrival we got in quickly and that shows they have been doing it for 125 years, the organisation works like clockwork, once inside via Hall 5 we go to Hall 4 past the stalls (the organisation could win brownie points by having a special entrance for competitors so that they can get through more easily and the shoppers are not bothered by exhibitors and trolleys looking for their ring and benches)
The compulsory benches are grouped by breed so visitors don’t have to search (it used to be like that at Dutch shows and is actually easy). All in numerical order.
Put the dog in the bench and then went to see friends and chat before we are competitors in the show ring
And then the time has come, judge Leif Herman Wilberg arrives with supporters, children and grand children. All is got ready and at exactly 10am judging starts, one beautiful Pembroke after the other is brought before the judge, you can see that he appreciates the quality and on several occasions he has trouble placing the dogs, everything is so beautiful and of such high quality .. a wonderful sight.
Then it is my turn with my Tuur because the yearling class (all dogs between 12 and 24 months) are being judged, I have never been so calm in the ring, no sign of nerves, probably because I assumed I was not going to win anything, it is after all the largest and most prestigious dog show in the World and me, I am a small unknown breeder from small and insignificant (definitely regarding quality Pembrokes) Netherlands with a home bred Pembroke …. To stand here on the well known green carpet amongst all the great and the good is enough honour for me, but the judge thinks otherwise and places me with my homebred Tuur third, my Tuur… third prize … at Crufts!
It does not sink in at first, only after I have left the ring does the penny drop … I am floating, again… me and my homebred Pembrokeshire Welsh Corgi, the first home bred Dutch Corgi in 125 years at Crufts …. A third place… my day, week, month, year can’t be spoiled … I am floating, I am sitting on a cloud and I will say here for a while because it feels good.
I would never have dreamed of achieving this result and we celebrate extensively with other breeders and exhibitors at the Pro Plan stand where winners have been invited for Champagne.
Eventually all 120 Pembrokes have been judged by Mr Wilberg and he gives Best of Breed to the Italian Ch/Int/Eur/Croa/RSM/Cyp/MN/MK Ch Dragonjoy Sonny Corleone belonging to owner/breeder Chiara Ceredi and best bitch goes to the tri-colour Andvol Kolombina, owner T Zabelina from Russia
Shopping… it is time to go shopping, enough stands, in each hall some 50 stalls and they sell all sorts of things from “imitation” Crufts rosettes to pots and pans, socks even bicycle parts … oh yes and also things for dogs, but for our Corgis there is however not much for sale (strange in the land of origin), the Welsh Corgi League has a stand by the ring where the Pembrokes are being judges, but their range is not very big either.
After shopping we return to the benches, pack up make our way back between shoppers all the way to the car and back to the hotel, have something to eat and drink and go to bed with a very satisfied feeling.
The next morning we get up early, pack and go to Folkestone. It was a much quicker journey than on the way there, it is Sunday, so not too much traffic and no traffic jams, on arrival in Folkestone we have a surprise, we are not allowed to proceed as the cameras did nor recognize our number plate, we had to report to the kiosk to ask, on arrival I explain that we came from the Continent to England in the same car, the same people, dog, etc. … the woman behind the counter did not understand either and told us to proceed straight away without having to wait … a bonus, with a big “thank you” we pass, straight onto the train, through the tunnel and drive on the right again.
Having got home, we unpack everything and find a mail telling us that having got a third place my Y Ddraig Goch Knight of Manorbier has qualified for Crufts 2017!
What a never to be forgotten experience and perhaps … 2017 … Crufts, you never know
I went again in 2017 with my Tuur, and that time he was shortlisted under judge Mary Davies ( kennel Ermyn ).
Tuur is now Crufts qualified for life.
Tuur is now Crufts qualified for life.
I would like to thank Suzanna van Eeghen for translating this article from Dutch to English