So on Thursday 7th March 2012 Kez and I were back at Crufts for the 2nd time . We were competing in YKC Elementary obedience this year, one class up from what we were in last year. And my superstar of a dog only went and won it again! She performed everything absolutely perfectly and showed everyone what she can do. Considering she hasn’t competed in anything since her qualifier in August, and has only been to 2 training classes since July (which were both in the last 2 weeks) it is absolutely amazing.
We had a bit of umming and ahhing if I was even able to get there for a few weeks. Its a 3.5 hour car journey, train wouldnt get me there in time and coaches don’t take dogs. Both parents were due to be working so our plans were a bit up in the air for a while! Then it turned out my mum was off, but she really didnt want to do the 3.5 hour drive as she doesnt do long distance driving very often at all. The only times she has driven further than the edges of Kent were to Leicester and Hampshire, both times she had my nan in the car who is very experienced in motorway driving due to the fact she is always going to flyball shows. This was the furthest she had ever driven, and also with only me in the car. She did it though, and Im so grateful to her for doing it. We were a good team, me doing all the navigating (with help of Sat Nav) and also being an extra pair of eyes for lane changes, cars doing stupid things etc. It was good practice for me actually, as I was doing all the observation and navigation without the driving part! It also gave me a good perception of what driving on the motorway is really like, as its the first time ive been on it since passing my test. Unfortunately, the weather was rubbish with a lot of rain and fog about. It was especially horrible with all the lorries, and the spray they kick up . But, we got there and back safely, and my mum did amazing for her first time driving so far .
So, we left at 3.30am, we could have left a little later as I wasnt competing til 10am but we wanted to miss out on all the traffic. It was a fairly quiet drive up there, gradually getting busier the further north we went, and also the closer to 7am we got. We arrived at about 7am, which was good going seeing as we stopped twice . Kez was a bit confused when we arrived as it was her first show in about 7 months lol! She had a bark at some of the other dogs we saw in the carpark, but it wasnt her reactive bark, more her ‘unsure, but curious’ bark. The one she does when she sees a dog she knows, and is unsure if she knows it or not. It was a very wet and long walk over to the NEC, and then finding a way to get in, but we were very happy when we got to our bench and was able to relax! We weren’t competing til 10am, which meant no rushing around, unlike last year.
We were meeting family up there, but they werent arriving til later so we had some time to spare . I did a bit of practice with Kez, ate and just relaxed. That was one thing that was different to last year, I was so much more relaxed. I was still nervous, but last year I was so afraid of letting my parents down and of Kez freaking out with the atmosphere that I didn’t have a chance to just relax and enjoy it. This year, I did . I went to watch the Starters class (the class we competed in last year) and just watching them made me nervous for me, but also for them! Then watching stays, and seeing a couple of the dogs break, my heart went out to them. Those evil stays! Although, they had it easier than I did as no dogs ran round the ring, unlike when I was in that class. While there, I had the lovely @randiSJohnsen come and watch with me, and it was so nice to have a proper chat rather than last year when I was running around like a loony .
There was a bit of showing in the ring after that, before it was my turn. So we went back to the bench and chilled. My Auntie, Grandad, cousin and another cousin (2nd/3rd/4th, ive no idea lol) all showed up. But then, it was my turn in the ring . I had an earlier running order of 6, so much less waiting around than last year. It was also nice, as the girl who we’d sat next to on the benches last year and became friends with, she was before me. This was great as she was also next to me in stays, and I know her dog can hold stays as she came 3rd last year .
It was nice to not have so long to wait as I didnt have so much time to get nervous . I did a bit of practice with Kez, chatted to some of the other competitors and by that point it was time to go in. I wasn’t as nervous as last year, but it was still very nerve-wracking to walk out in front of so many people watching! I don’t think that is something that will ever get any easier . First up in our round, heel on lead. Kez was very focused, and ready to go. So off we went… and Kez was bouncing along like a crazy thing! She eased up after a few steps, but after watching the video clip she was actually bouncing the whole time. Thats certainly not her usual style, I think I may have been walking a bit fast for her due to nerves. But hey, she was having fun! We had a few right turns, an about turn and even a left turn. It was quite an advanced round compared to our 2 circles last year . We then had heel free, which was basically diagonal and back. Lovely and easy . Then recall. I was so relaxed when leaving her in the wait, I just felt so confident she was going to hold it. There was a part of me thinking ‘oh god, what if I turn round and she’s stood up or followed me’ but deep down I had the confidence in her that she would stay there… and she did. She was very happy and relaxed. So I called her, and she was a bit slow off the mark! I thought for a split second she wasn’t going to come at all . But she did, and she did a perfect present and then a perfect finish. What a super little girl!
So then we had quite a while to wait for stays while everyone else worked. Watching the other dogs, some of them were very good! Particuarly a couple of the collies. Some dogs however, just get overwhelmed by the noise and the atmosphere and so cant work. I’m so lucky to have a dog who, although frightened by almost everything, she isnt noise sensitive in the slightest. One dog completely went mad and was bombing round the ring like a loony. Great entertainment, but the poor handler must have been so embarassed. Another dog peed, which is another challenge posed by being indoors all day and the entrances are a bit of a walk away so if you dont take your dog to the toilet well before, then you’ve missed your chance.
Anyway, we then had stays. I was panicking a bit after that dog had been bombing round the ring as it was a very large dog (like a greyhound type dog, but bulkier) and if it did that in stays, that would be it for Kez. She would freak out and possibly chase it, in fact, even Ernie would! It would have caused absolute chaos. But, it didn’t . It did break stays, so I did watch it just in case (and I saw a few others glance at it too) but it did stay there. Kez held a perfect 1 min sit and 2 min down. She did turn to look across in the dogs direction, which panicked me a bit, but she held. Afterwards, my mum actually said my Auntie had said Kez’s name by accident and Kez had turned to look, so she wasnt looking at the dog both times at least. In fact, I think they said it was the sit, and this was the one where she was really focused in that direction and didnt turn back to me until I started walking back towards her. In the down, she again focused in that direction (the dog was further forward in this one and the only dog sitting up) so I think she was definantly looking at the dog, but to my relief she did turn back towards me. I smiled and moved my eyes to let her know I was pleased with that .
So, then we had all day to enjoy Crufts! I certainly did enjoy it more, I was less stressed and just more relaxed. Kez was too, she only snapped at one dog all day, unlike last year where by the end of the day she was snapping at everyone. The only dog she snapped at was a Whippet that took us both by surprise by going up her bum. She was even sniffing non-collies bums as we walked past, which is great for her! She is actually fine, its just when its face-to-face greetings Kez can’t cope. But, she did greet a few collies and was perfect. She had non-collies really close to her too, a few times, and even had a Dalmatian snap at her. She was just so good . She was very greedy too though, while walking round her nose was on the ground eating every dropped crumb! Then she had people giving her treats, and at one point we were walking past a fish treats stall, and she was dragging me, I was pulling her away… and then one of the stall people ruined me trying to get her away as they gave her a square of sea jerky -_-. Lol! I also had the annoying thing of people going ‘oh does your dog want a drink from our special bottle’ and I knew how to handle it this year . I just said no! They only want me to buy one, and I dont need one, so leave me alone! I didn’t actually buy much at all, just a lovely new lead for Kez . We actually lost her little purple lead after I switched them over, which was a bit annoying . But, at least she now has a lovely new lead for obedience .
My favourite bit of the day was Discover Dogs. I finally got to meet some Basenji’s, they are just the cutest dogs ever! I also met a Portuguese Water dog, which have the coolest hairdo’s ever. I saw my favourite breed ever, the Pyrenean Shepherd dog. Very rare, but absolutely the sweetest little things. Reason I love them is not for looks, but because they are the most energetic dogs ever in a nice small size. They would fit into my lifestyle perfectly . One day! However, there was a downside. My mum used to breed Boxers and grew up with them, so we headed over to the Boxer bit. One of the Boxers looked awful. It had a really bad skin condition on its face, and was unbelievably skinny. Crufts is meant to be promoting healthy dogs, and this was on show to promote the Boxer breed? I was in shock, and my mum was really upset as the breed is very special to her. It was a one off, it was the only unhealthy dog I saw there, but even so. Why was it there?
Anyway, at 3.45pm we had our results. They did the starters, elementary and advanced obedience results altogther. There are actually 5 classes altogether, the other 2 are on the Friday . So, they started doing the results for my competition, elementary, first. They started at 6th place, went up to 2nd place… and then stopped. They’d done it wrong, and were meant to be doing starters first. I hadn’t got anything from 6th to 2nd… so I had either won or come nowhere. To say the least, I was nervous! They then sent everyone back, and did all the results for Starters. Jeez, how evil can you be?! So then, they went all the way through again, starting at 6th place! And… it turned out we had won again . It was just unbelievable, to have only competed at Crufts twice and win both times, wow! Kez really has a talent for obedience, what with not having been to training classes in 7 months, not being in a show environment in 7 months and then handling everything so perfectly. Shes a superstar!
So, my little Kez who used to run on sight of another dog, run from me, chase and nip my other dogs and generally just not trust me has now won at Crufts twice in obedience, which in my opinion is the hardest sport of them all. She held them stays in a ring with 15 other dogs, hundreds of people walking around, people talking over tannoys, dogs walking everywhere and in an enclosed building. She really is just incredible. It gets a lot harder now, as were moving up the classes and going against much better and more experienced dogs and handlers, but even if we never win at Crufts again or even get there, I honestly couldnt care less. Its one thing winning once, another entirely winning twice at the biggest dog show there is.