I had a fantastic day at Crufts last weekend. For once I wasn't handling any dogs at all, and while I missed my normal frantic dashing from one dog and class to the next, it was a real treat to just sit there and watch it all. I didn't even take a camera with me. I did get a few rather distant and occasionally blurry shots with my phone, though.
Our judge was Jeff Horswell, a very experienced judge who we have been under on many previous occasions. Not all of the Infindigo gang who qualified actually came, but of those who did enter, first up was Postgraduate Dog featuring Rauhan, Usko and Kuura.
Rauhan was being handled by 15-year-old Lexi Birks at her first ever Crufts. She and her family have Infindigo Riemu Kiittaa who has been to a few shows, but Lexi had never before shown a different dog. I thought it would be a lovely experience for her, since Rauhan has been so easy to show in the past. Lexi did a great job, although Rauhan was out of practice as he doesn't go to ringcraft. He trotted nicely around the ring for Lexi and was happy enough to let the judge examine him, but I had completely forgotten to warn Lexi that he would need a firm grip in order to show his teeth. So the judge never did get to see those teeth. Needless to say, he didn't place!
|Rauhan & Lexi|
Handled so well by Ian, Usko trotted quite beautifully around the ring, as usual. However, when it came time for the judge to go over him, he didn't have quite enough time to settle and decided he'd rather wiggle around and be silly rather than let the judge anywhere near. This is a boy who still goes regularly to ringcraft, so there is no excuse whatsoever except pure, unadulterated joie de vivre and, er, naughtiness. The owner of Usko's sire Albmi did point out that it was next to impossible to show him too for the same reason. So there you go - show naughtiness appears to run in families. You have been warned.
Ironically, Usko was also entered in the Good Citizen Dog class for dogs who have passed at least one level of the Kennel Club Good Citizen training scheme. The judge did not bother with further examination of those entries and he placed 3rd. I am assured that outside of the show ring, Usko is a very good citizen indeed!
|Usko & Ian|
Finally, it was Kuura and Daniel. As I recall, the last time Kuura was in the ring, on the occasion of his Crufts qualifying show, I was handling him. Therefore it was a real treat to get to sit ringside and actually see him perform. He was totally focused on Daniel at all times (apart from a quick glance at me to have his unfortunately blurry photo taken). There was only the tiniest boo-boo of a sit while the judge was doing his examination. Well done, team! Kuura placed an outstanding 3rd in the largest class of the day.
|Kuura & Daniel focused|
|Kuura & Daniel not so focused!|
Here is the judge's critique of Kuura:
3 McGinlay & Spencer’s Infindigo Persikka Kuura, liked his overall balance. Not as heavy in body as some & has very good feet. Lovely eyes, correct stop, firm topline.Kuura also entered the next class, Limit Dog, where he placed again, this time in Reserve. One of the competition in this class was Taito with Emma. Taito doesn't go to many shows, but I always have high hopes for him when he does as he's such a beautiful specimen and he normally does very well. However, he doesn't go to ringcraft, either, and so you never know if you're going to get Taito the showdog or Taito the utter clown. You can guess which dog turned up for Crufts, can't you? Yup. He ran, he skipped sideways, he danced, he laughed, he hoovered everything up off the floor. You can see in his photo how much fun he was having and that his feet are not even straight on the floor. After their turn around the ring, Emma's face says it all, really.
|Naughty Taito & exasperated Emma|
|Taito proving he is capable of standing nicely occasionally|
For the very first time ever - and not unsurprisingly - Taito did not place. Oh, the shame! Such is life when you share it with a big, goofy and adorable clown of a dog.
After the judging of the dogs was completed, it was Neka's turn in Veteran Bitch. She looked fabulous on the day and was handled so well by Jane Treasure who has Infindigo Riemu Emmi. Neka is not always the easiest dog to show as she tends to get rather - how shall I put it - enthusiastic in the show ring. Jane did a brilliant job of keeping all 4 of her paws on the floor and her mouth mostly quiet. We were utterly thrilled when Neka placed 1st in a class of really beautiful veterans, taking out no fewer than two former Crufts champions in the process. Well done you two! I haven't yet broken it to Jane that I may never show Neka myself again.
|Hard to tell, but it is indeed Neka & Jane|
|Another blurry Neka & Jane|
|Neka chilling in her crate after her triumph|
The judge's critique of Neka:
VB (5) 1 Henson & Simmons’ Elbereth Onnekas for Infindigo, feminine, correct proportions. Just a bit better in head than 2. Well set ears, good neck, nice front. Feet slightly flat. Correct body depth & short loin, moderate rear;Finally, it was the Special Puppy Bitch class for Kiittaa and Lexi. It was my first chance to see Kiittaa in the ring as I didn't get to many shows last year, and it was lovely to see how well Lexi has trained her pup to behave so nicely in the show ring. After a great performance, they won their class! I was so proud of them both at their very first Crufts experience.
|Kiittaa & Lexi|
PB (2) 1 Birks’ Infindigo Riemu Kiitaa, nice type pup, feminine head, pigment & eye colour match coat, enough neck, well made front & rear, nice profile mover. Can develop in width of chest & tighten in front;It's always a nice bonus when you get to qualify for next year's Crufts at the same time as attending this year's, and so it happened for Kuura, Neka and Kiittaa.
Due to the changing status of Finnish Lapphunds from Rare Breed status, last year it was tougher than ever to qualify for Crufts. So I was very proud indeed of the dozen or so who did. And I was very proud indeed, too, of those who turned up whether they behaved well or not and whether they placed or not. In fact, I'm pretty proud of all the Infindigo Finnish Lapphunds whether they have ever been to a show or not. Can you tell?