Chapter 8 - Landmark Dates

One of the things Ans suggested to us was that we attend the World Show, being held in Amsterdam in April 2002, so, for the first time we entered an overseas event. We put Chelsea, Tilly and Mercedes in their appropriate classes, but at the last minute John had to go on his own, so only Chelsea and Mercedes set off with him from the car hire depot at Stansted. The venue was in the outskirts of the city, but the hotel suggested by the organisers was in the centre, so walking the dogs last thing at night was an experience. All that can be said is that the girls “on display” appeared much more enthusiastic about Chelsea and Mercedes than their handler…..good thing too!! The show day dawned, and having gone through our first vet check, we found our ring, and much to our surprise, some other UK exhibitors, as well as Maggie and Lloyd, there to support, and most welcome. Dogs and bitches had different judges, we had Jan de Gids, and both our girls were graded “excellent” before winning their classes. This gave John a dilemma, but Maggie stepped into the breach, handling Mercedes in the challenge. We were astonished when she was declared best bitch, with Chelsea in tight consideration for reserve. In the run-off against the males, Mercedes was beaten for best of breed by a very handsome dog from the Czech Republic, but Chelsea was declared best veteran so she had to go into the veteran group, where she was a creditable fifth. She had scraped her nose, burying bones, so who knows whether she might have done even better. It was a very happy and excited little group phoning home that evening!!

National Dog Show 2003  Breeders Stakes Winners

At the National Dog Show (Birmingham) in May of 2003, we entered for the first time the breeders’ stakes classes. These classes happen at most Championship shows, and require breeders to display between 3 and 5 dogs that they have bred (they don’t have to own them), and the overall winner from each show qualifies to be at Crufts for the grand final each year. We were fortunate that day in having, in addition to our own Chelsea and Mercedes, Ann Travis with Beck (Tipperary), and Alison Lawson with Max (Jaguar). Under judge Mrs R Vuorinen, we won not only the Working group, but also beat the Pastoral group winners to be best on the day. Our return the following day to compete for best in show and the prized Crufts entry place was less of a success, as the complete team were not able to take part, but the group win was a first for hovawarts in the UK.

Jordis had got a bit achy in her joints as she got older, and was prescribed anti-inflammatories, which certainly perked her up. Unfortunately we didn’t realise that a possible side effect of this treatment over a long period could be fits, and Jordis suffered in this way. We managed this for a while, but each fit was more severe than the last, and finally she appeared to lose the connection to her hind legs. This was definitely the signal for us to call the vet out for one final time, and her going was peaceful and serene; she was thirteen and a half years old.

We took Orchid, on the recommendation of several German breeders, whom we now knew well, to mate with an experienced stud dog, living in Wuppertal, called “Fellow“. Unfortunately, although Orchid, then a maiden bitch, stood really well for him, his owners felt he may have had a bad or painful previous mating, because, although he managed the preliminaries well, and had no problem ejaculating, penetration was a step too far for him. On five occasions, in various locations, potential puppies were spilled on the floor. As we said to Orchid on the way home, at least we tried! It only goes to show that breeding dogs is not always straightforward, as we found with Mercedes.

Crufts 2004 was a real landmark for us. Our breed judge was from Slovenia, and fortunately for us, he took a liking to our girls, with Chelsea and Tilly getting second prizes, and Mercedes and Orchid the coveted red rosettes, Orchid going on to win Best of Breed. At that time, we had an American girl, Anne, living with us. Her stay, for nearly a year, in the end did not work out very happily for a number of reasons, but that day in March was a red letter one for us all. Anne had had a lot of experience showing in the US, especially Irish Wolfhounds, but other breeds too, in a professional capacity, and with some considerable success, so when it came to the group, with the crowds, lights and TV cameras, we thought Orchid’s best shot would be with Anne handling, and so it proved. In a first for Hovawarts, Orchid was pulled out in the last 8 for consideration!! We were, as they say, over the moon!! However, the achievement was put in perspective the following day when, at the “Discover Dogs” stand, a man came up to Orchid, asked us if she was the dog he had seen on TV the evening before, and when he received a reply in the affirmative, said that it was so nice for an ordinary dog to do well for a change. Once we had time to reflect, actually we were pleased, because one of the great virtues of the breed is that they are very much the dogs they always were, and haven’t suffered any makeovers, or exaggeration. Long may it remain so.