MONTHS of dedication and preparation paid off for dog owners across Worcestershire who returned triumphant from the world’s biggest dog show.
Thousands of pooches entered the show ring at Birmingham’s NEC last weekend in the hope of being named top dog at this year’s Crufts.
Among the county’s proud winners was Dawn Inett, of Fernhill Heath, near Worcester.
Five cairn terriers which she either owns, handles or has bred, received awards – including first in the junior dog category and first and reserve challenge certificate in the yearling dog category.
Miss Inett, who has been breeding terriers for 30 years in partnership with her mum, Rosemary Harrison, also of Fernhill Heath, said she was delighted by the achievement.
“I feel on top of the world,” she said. “To get one first at Crufts is fantastic, so we were thrilled to get two. To get any placing at Crufts is prestigious.”
Jan Ballinger, of Callow End, near Worcester, was equally proud of her Polish lowland sheepdog, Dobrany Dorianblue Itzme – pet name Oozat – who won first in his breed class and first in good citizen class, as well as a reserve challenge certificate.
The 21-month-old is also a Pets As Therapy (PAT) dog and his winning credentials have seen him gain lifetime qualification for Crufts.
Mrs Ballinger said: “He’s still only a youngster so we’re really pleased with him.
“He was at Crufts last year as a puppy and got second. Throughout the year he’s done really well at the championship shows.”
Another high achiever was bearded collie Subessen Echoes of Love at Pastraka – pet name Lucy – which took best puppy for her breed for owner Annette Colwell, of St Peter’s, Worcester.
She said: “When I saw her at six weeks old, she stood out from the rest of the litter. You can never say for definite what’s going to happen when you get to shows.
“She goes up to junior next year so it’s a lovely way for her to finish her puppy days.
“I’m hoping to continue winning but once bearded collies reach 12 months, they tend to go through a coat change.
“If her coat stays good, who knows, in the future she might be a champion in the making.”
Meanwhile, despite owning border terriers for 16 years, it was only three years ago that Pete Shephard, of Malvern, introduced his beloved pets to the show ring.
While he had previous placings at Crufts with three-and-a-half-yearold Molly, it was her 10-month-old daughter Meg, show name Brookbeech Blue Lass, who won the judges’ admiration this year by winning best puppy for her breed.
Mr Shephard said he owed the success to guidance and support of Meg’s handler, Marion Reeves.
“I never thought it would happen,” he said.
“I’ve had enquiries about her from Canada and all over the place.
There were people at Crufts who really loved her. I’ll never do it again in my lifetime.”
Handler Mrs Reeves said she believed that Meg was a champion in the making.
“We’re obviously delighted, it’s a very big win,” she said.
IT'S A DOG'S LIFE
Billed as the world’s biggest dog show, this year’s Crufts saw 21,422 dogs compete for the Best in Show title.
This year’s event, the 120th, was seen by about 138,000 dog lovers.
The first show was organised by Charles Cruft in 1891 at the Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington, London, with 2,437 entries and 36 breeds.
The show was threatened with cancellation in 1952 after the death of King George VI on February 6, but it was allowed to take place two days later.
In 1954, the show was cancelled due to an electricians’ strike.
This year’s champion was Jet, a Flatcoated Retriever who was crowned Best in Show. His breeder was Jim Irvine, from South Queensferry, near Edinburgh.