Chapter 13 - IHF in Austria 2006

The summer of 2006 saw a new experience for Pines, with a visit to the IHF annual meeting and show with dogs. We took Mercedes, Orchid and Whistle, and Maggie and Lloyd Spencer went with Tiggy (Pines Charleston) and DJ.

Elaine, John, Maggie & Dogs, Austria 2006

The host for the event was the Austrian Club, and the event was held at Amstetten, a rural town between Salzburg and Vienna. There are a lot of orchards there, and the area bore quite a resemblance to our own Herefordshire, with cider being the local drink of choice. At the show, Tiggy did well in Veteran bitch, being graded excellent coming 6th out of 10, and DJ, also graded excellent, achieved the super position of 5th in a class of 28 dogs. All our girls had to be in the open class too, even a very young Whistle, at just over 2 years of age. Happily, they all also gained the “excellent” grade, which, under the FCI rules means they can challenge for places in the class. There were 14 in that challenge, from an original entry of 29,and the way it works is that you run round the ring until you are eliminated….winning a lot would keep you and your dog very fit!! Whistle went out early, in 12th place, but the other two kept in until Orchid came out 5th and Mercedes 4th. We were very proud, but not as proud as when we entered the breeders’ class. Orchid, of course, didn’t qualify, but the other four tramped manfully round and round, until an announcement over the loudspeaker (in German, naturally) stopped everyone. We didn’t know quite what was happening until a kind English speaker told us we had won, over 9 groups of Austrian dogs. What a moment!! I like to think that our rather smart waistcoats had a part to play.

One of the advantages of the FCI system is that every dog receives a written critique, not a scheme to make the show speedy, but at least you always know why you gained the grade and place you did. In the UK, you often feel a victim of the “I liked the first better than the second, and second better than third” syndrome that can feel so unsatisfactory

There was a secondary motive to our visit to Austria. We had been considering possible mates for Whistle, and the favourite was an Austrian dog called Cooper, and he was at the show, with a litter of his puppies. Despite some impressive photographs of Cooper doing man-work, he turned out to be a most gentle dog, and we were very happy to book an appointment for Whistle to visit at her next season. This turned out to be only a few weeks after the show, so Whistle must have felt a bit like a long-distance commuter. Unfortunately, despite some seemingly good matings, Whistle proved not to be pregnant, consigning herself to a return visit in the spring.

The Club Show 2006 was rather a red letter day for us, as our lovely Mercedes emulated her mother’s achievement by going Best in Show, under Dutchman Jan de Gids, who had liked her so much at the World Show four years previously. She wasn’t always very successful in shows here, but certainly, in his write-up, she touched his heart.

She also enjoyed motherhood more than any of our bitches, although almost all proved good and very capable mothers, the exception being, ironically, Mercedes’ daughter Whistle, more of which to come, so we decided that she should have one more litter. A call to Katrine in France set up a rendezvous for her with a dog called Ubaye, who lived with his family a little south of Angouleme. Nothing runs as smoothly as one might wish, and the right day to go to France proved to be Christmas Day, so, after the usual visit to his mother, John set off across the channel, or rather under it, on Christmas evening. It was a bit foggy, and to drive the Paris ring road with no other traffic in those conditions is a bizarre, almost other-worldly experience.

Dog people are very tolerant. Who else would put up with a virtual stranger arriving with an in-season bitch (to a house with 2 stud dogs, neither of whom were required) on a bank holiday? We went to meet Ubaye and his family the following day, and happily all went well with no complications.

Mercedes duly had a lovely litter of 10 puppies, all black and gold, even managing five of each sex. They were, naturally, named after French luminaries.


There are occasions when you do something strange, without quite knowing why, and yet fate shows you that the alien action has proved the right course. Such was the case now, because we decided, after more than 20 years of only having bitches, to keep a dog from this litter, which was to be Mercedes’ last.

Little Louis remained with us for all his short life. He was with us for some four months, during which he proved to be a delightful, sensitive, gentle and loving boy, totally different from the usual thuggish, all-teeth and jumping up puppies we have. A strange lump appeared on his side, which we initially put down to a knock from one of the adults, but it didn’t go away. A visit to the vet gave us no clue as to the problem, but his lack of energy made us return. X-rays revealed a fast-growing cancer that had already spread from spleen to lungs, which resembled pebbledash on the negative. There was no choice but to let him go under the anaesthetic.

Four months is no time, but he made such an impression on us, and is commemorated in a tub of plants that will always remind us of such a happy little puppy. We are so pleased that he didn’t go on to anyone else.

We accept that in breeding there are lows as well as highs, death as well as life, and it was so hard for us to lose him. How much worse it would have been for a couple, or a family with children, to have had him for maybe six weeks and lose him. It doesn’t bear thinking about.


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Chapter 12 - Orchid’s turn

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Chapter 14 - Highs and Lows