Thursday, 12 March 2009

Crufts 2009

I really enjoyed Crufts this year but sadly can't say the same for Andy. We left home on the Thursday really early and I noticed that Andy looked a bit pale. I asked him if he was OK and he said he felt really sick. We had to stop twice enroute as he was really unwell. When we arrived at the NEC car park I was really cheeky and drove between some bollards, totalling ignoring the little man in a yellow coat, and managed to get parking third row from front. This meant we were parked right by the toilet block which was extremely useful as Andy was still feeling really ill.

He felt a little better as we walked across to the hall but still looked ghastly. It was a real shame as it spoilt the occasion for him. The frustrating thing is that he won't get the chance to run at Crufts for two years now because he's judging the champ class there next year.

We managed to get a nice big bench and set up our crate for the two girls. Here they are smiling for the camera:

I'm top dog, stay down where you belong!

Oh no you're not, I'm top dog!

Andy smiling but still looking rather pasty and Kizzy

Johanna was supposed to be coming over for Crufts but due to poor Spooky getting injured she was unable to make it. Johanna was very sweet and bought good luck presents for Kizzy and Niamh. She decided that Kizzy just didn't have enough pink and rectified that situation. Here are the girls' presents now lining their beds. So, Kizzy has a pink bed at last!

Kizzy's beautiful pink bed!

The mini/mixi course was good because you actually got to run over 16 obstacles each. Often this class is a bit of a let down when you get 10 obstacles each (why is it that the class fee isn't reduced accordingly I wonder .....)

The large/medium dog course was flowing but had a couple of traps on offer. It also had a relatively flat weave entry which I love. Having seen a couple of dogs get eliminated running straight into the tunnel I decided to be cautious and ran Niamh quite slowly. She wasn't overly impressed and I could feel her trying to push on but I kept holding her back. I think she was quite frustrated with me by the end of the round but we were clear.

Andy and Kizzy set off into a straight pipe tunnel and on into a straight set of weaves .... or not. Kizzy ran straight past them and so we got 5 faults. The rest of the course she worked really well and was completely at ease in the arena. It was a real shame. It was the first time Andy and Kizzy had run together in quite a while as Andy is still trying to get over his groin strain. It's taking a very long time and he's had loads of phsyio treatments, still ongoing. We do loads of training on really tough weave entries and Kizzy is pretty damn good but it highlighted something we don't train often enough and that's dead straight weave entries especially following a fast straight tunnel. It's quite a tough weave entry as the dog gets very little view of the poles. Guess what we trained on Tuesday night!

The most disappointing thing for me was that you couldn't have a toy anywhere in the arena (fair enough, not complaining) and the ring steward kept hold of my lead so poor Niamh had nothing to play with at the end of her round. Niamh loves her game at the end of every round and I truly believe this has helped to motivate her and make her faster and keener. I found it very frustrating to be unable to play with my dog at the end of a round so I used the baton and I think she left a few teeth marks. I was glad I did this because otherwise I think she might have got cross with the camera man who was wooshing right into the dogs' faces as they finished. Probably made good t.v. but not very wise in my view. In fact on the Saturday I saw a rather well known agility dog getting very agitated with the camera and running back to tell it off more than once. After this incident they put the camera man the other side of the barrier. I am very surprised that the organisers allowed this. You kind of accept it's going to happen somewhere like Olympia but at a proper dog show you really expect people to understand how this could upset some dogs, especially when they exit the course quite pumped up and looking for something to grab hold of.

We didn't stay around too long after our event as Andy was still feeling really ill so instead we made our way home. I was quite glad of this as I knew I was getting up early again the following morning this time to be groom for Leah and now Bernadette as Johanna couldn't come to Crufts.

So, Friday morning dawned (well actually it didn't, it was still pitch dark) and Bernadette arrived followed shortly by Leah. We piled into Leah's van and off we went again. I really enjoyed the day even though I didn't get to see very much agility. It's quite hectic grooming for people and in addition to Herbie and Zen I helped Lee with Bold and Shy as they were both in the singles event (personally I think that's just plain greedy.) So, grooming for four dogs meant I really only got to watch a few rounds. I couldn't see the t.v. screen either because I had to be in the tunnel ready to pass dogs to their respective handlers and then take others back. I didn't mind in the least as I know how stressful it is when you're competing. All my charges were well behaved, some noisier than others - you can figure that one out for yourselves but before you jump to the wrong conclusion don't assume the noisy one was just Zen - was it HERBIE?? I think Herbie had a wonderful time as he found lots of people to fuss him. Zen was very chilled and seemed to love being back in the agility atmosphere. Bold just kept looking for his Daddy (just like Dan's Tig) and Shy sat in between my legs like a little angel.

Zen chilling and being perfect (Zeki is so like her, it's uncanny)

Herbie not chilling, looking out for potential victims to mug as they pass by

Sadly Leah and Herbie had a little glitch at the end of their round otherwise I feel certain they would have been in the final. I think they came 10th and you had to be top eight. Zen was brilliant and came 2nd in the medium singles overall. What a return from maternity leave!

Shopping - well I managed to get through half of my list on Friday but had loads more still to get the next day. Yes, I was mad. I really did travel up and down to Crufts for three days in a row. This is why I haven't put my post up until now because I've been too tired! We had an excellent journey home which passed by quickly with Bernadette singing to us. I can't say I'd recommend it but it kept Leah awake which was useful as she was driving!

Saturday arrived and to be honest I felt like smashing my alarm clock into pieces. However, I got straight in the shower and was half awake by the time Leah arrived just after 5.00 am. We had both decided to go back up to Crufts in order to support Jan and Teazle who were running the KC Novice cup.

We had a good journey up and after meeting up with Jan off we went on our first shopping trip. I must admit I was a bit crazy and bought loads of stuff. Mostly it was pink. Pink bedding, pink collars, pink leads, pink toys and so it went on. I also bought new scissors and thinning scissors, a new soft crate for Zeki (this is to go in the car to try to stop her barking when we go off for our walks), a big sheet of pink vet bed for Michael to make more toys. It was amazing how much I could buy and how much Leah could carry!

On to the agility. I wasn't too sure about the international competition as I thought it might be a bit of a bore but it was brilliant with a very worthy winner in David and the wonderful Dobby. Jan and Teazle did well for their first time at Crufts and I know they'll be back.

Then more shopping and more shopping. By the time I'd finished shopping it was gone 6pm so we decided to grab something to eat before heading back to the car. The good thing was that the car park was almost empty so no queue. We decided to get back to the car in one go and you've never seen anything like it. We both had a chair each plus all my shopping. I think Leah had one carrier bag with a very expensive orange collar inside (for Stihl). We looked like a couple of pack horses. But I am very happy as my van is now almost completely pink inside. Andy refuses to drive it now - RESULT!

I am sad I didn't get to see the champ class on the Sunday but I did watch it all on Crufts t.v. What a brilliant competition it turned out to be. Toni must be made up with her two girls, what an achievement to win two Crufts championships on the same evening. Zen came away with medium reserve; a fantastic result after so much time out of agility for one reason or another and the icing on the cake for Team OBay was Nic and Indy winning the small dog ticket for the second year running.

So, that was my Crufts experience this year. Brilliant.


  1. Blimey Nancy - I'm exhausted just reading about it!!! Sounds like you had a fab time!

    What a shame for poor Andy :-(

    I am sure he and Kizzy will be back many many times in the future tho :-)!!

  2. Hope Andy is feeling better. Nothing worse than being ill in a place that's not Home!
    well done for you success's.