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(Updated 1/6/01)


Obedience Championships - 2001

by Janet Martineau

Judge - Mrs Kathy Ingram

The CRUFTS ring is a familiar place to Kathy. She has competed at Crufts since 1979, winning it in 1981 with her lovely stylish long coat German Shepherd Ob. Ch. Rintilloch Gingham. Now she had her turn on the other side of the coin as the judge for the championships.

On the first day she had 28 bitches entered, but one absentee in that Anne Northfield’s bitch is busy with maternal duties, one of many “casualties” to the change of date. There was one Tervueren, one German Shepherd, three Crossbreeds, fourteen Working Sheepdogs and nine Border Collies. Kathy was very smart in her approach to the job and had thought up an interesting and testing course. Her stewards were casual and relaxed in open neck light blue shirts and dark trousers, dark suits for the ladies. More casual perhaps that we have become accustomed to in the big ring but only in appearance, there was absolute efficiency in the running of the championships.

Photo by Alan V Walker
The winning line up of the Bitch Obedience Competition l to r, winner Mitchell’s Working Sheepdog Ob. Ch. Mitch’s Marvie, 2nd. Watson’s Working Sheepdog Ob. Ch. Forever Magic flute, 3rd. Ray’s Working Sheepdog Lunarlite Lady in Red and in 4th place Oliver’s Border Collie Bheinn Nice-Tri, seen here with the judge Kathy Ingham.

The various tasks were performed by Paul Ingham - ring steward, Kate Herron - scribe, Franny Herron - escorting steward, Anne Marie Parker - collecting ring, John Clark - distant control and scent decoy, Margaret Willis - collecting scores.

The tests for the bitches were in the order Distant Control, Retrieve, Heelwork then Sendaway. Stays followed the completion of the individual work, and then we had that cliff-hanging scent.

The handler came on and was ushered to the centre of the ring where the distant control was the first test, the dog being left by the large square box on which the positions were marked for all sides to see. The dog was left in the sit, and the changes were to the stand, down, sit, down, stand, sit. Five bitches went clear, 14 lost two or less. The on to the retrieve which was of a heavyish round article as it were a mock haggis with a cloth wrapped around it, no one went clear on the retrieve which is a bit revealing - it is one of the exercises that is taught right from the word go and one would have thought that some at least would get it spot on, but the most lost was 2.75. Then came the heelwork, the pattern that the handlers were given looked as if a spider had run all over the page according to one person I spoke to. It varied in time from 4.75 minutes to something over seven minutes according to how briskly the handler worked. Paul must have known that he had done a days work and a half, for each competitor he had to give something like 58 heelwork commands and keep up with them round the arduous course. By my calculations it contained 15 lefts, 11 rights, 2 multiple turns, the advanced positions which were posted up on little signposts, 9 about turns, a route which they had to follow exactly on a red tape which was a zigzag with curved turns down the side of the ring, this was done at normal and slow pace, and a similarly marked red tape pattern with two semi-circles joined by a straight line. There were two stretches of slow and two of fast. The red tape caused a bit of a problem in that it rucked up when walked on occasionally and at one time the scribe actually left her post by the judge’s shoulder during a heelwork round to sort it , but that was the only aberration that I spotted in the whole day.

Photo by Alan V Walker
Winning line up for the Dog Obedience Championship was first Woollam's WS Ob. Ch. Especially Russ and the runner up Bishop's WS Suenijon He's Magic, judge Kathy Ingham and third place Jeffries' WS Ob. Ch Tycoon Telepathy and fourth Neal's WS Ob. Ch. Chalkwell Chezzi.

The best heelwork mark of the day was appropriately performed by the eventual winner, Sylvia Mitchell with Ob. Ch. Mitch’s Marvie on 8.25, and right behind her was Wendy Beckinsale’s Ob. Ch. Limited Edition on 8.75.
The sendaway took it’s toll, right down the centre of the ring between two St Andrews’ flags to a third one as a back marker on the back fence, not flags exactly but painted ones on boards. Many dogs checked at the front markers, one or two were a bit lost on the way out but I also noted that distraction was caused to some by the T.V screen - at either end of the ring, up where the digital scoreboards have been in the past.


This year’s novelty was a large screen on which was shown the dog actually working, and the scores came up over the picture, with much the same timing as we are used to on the digital scoreboards of previous years. One or two dogs were surprised to see themselves running out on the sendaway maybe. There were some good sendaways, 14 losing less that 2, but 6 went somewhat astray.

Photo by Alan V Walker
All the bitch Obedience Championship exhibitors performing their stays.

Only one bitch lost anything on the stays and we had a line-up for scent of a 9.25, 11.75 and 12.25 with 18.75 in potential fourth. It was an interesting test with the cloths laid out in a big K for Kathy, but the bitches found it hard to work the big K pattern systematically. It was sad to see two of the good marks go out here, but the test isn’t over until it’s finished as they say, and we ended up with a magnificent and well deserved win for the only bitch to complete the test within ticket marks:-

1st. Sylvia Mitchell with Ob. Ch. Mitch’s Marvie, Working Sheepdog - on 9.75 points.
2nd. Herbie Watson with Ob. Ch. Forever magic Fluke, Working Sheepdog, who did a clear scent and ended on 18.75 to hold onto this place ahead of
3rd. Mary Ray with Lunarlite Lady In Red, Working Sheepdog. On 19 points.
4th. Mandi Oliver with Bheinn Nice-Tri, Border Collie. Who ended on 20.25 points.

On the second day it was the turn of the dogs and there were 24 entries, but one was absent through his handler being abroad and one was unable to perform due to unsoundness, so we had a relatively small class to watch. One German Shepherd, one Golden Retriever, one Crossbreed, twelve Working Sheepdogs and seven Border Collies were entered. On this day the stewards were Franny Herron - ring steward, Anne Marie Parker - scribe, Kate Herron -escort, Paul Ingham - collecting ring, Gemma Lewis - distant control, Shona McCracken - retrieve and scent decoy, Elaine Wilson and Margaret Hillis - scoreboard.

The order of tests was Retrieve, Distant Control, Heelwork then Sendaway, Stays then Scent.

Photo by Alan V Walker
Obedience exhibitors have a reputation for decorating their benches, this year’s bitch competition was no exception, as demonstrated by Robertson’s working Sheepdog Sinedes Wild Orchid, seen here resplendent within her good luck cards.

The test was similar in concept and the same taped patterns were own, this time with better (stickier) blue tape. The retrieve article was the same except for the colour of the cloth, and we had one clear retrieve on the day, with 17 losing two or less. Distant control was done diagonally from the corner by the collecting ring, the changes being to the stand, down, sit, down, stand and sit, and there were six dogs that went clear on it. The heelwork was approximately the same length with 58 commands, tow bouts of slow and fast and similar in time taken to the bitches. the best mark of the day was once again by our eventual winner, Stephanie Woollam’s Ob. Ch. Especially Russ on 6.75, with Herbie Watson’s Whatknow Razzamataz on 9.5 being next in line.

The sendaway was exactly the same but for three large painted Scottish Thistles, two for front markers and one on the board at the back, the marks were on average a bit better than the bitches, one dog went clear but only eight lost less that two. Stays saw two breaks and on to scent. The pattern was a large R this time and the dogs worked the cloths in a much more systematic manner and I think I’m right in saying that no wrong cloths were brought in, two dogs railed however in that they just would not go over the right cloth and were called in. We had four within ticket marks before scent with Stephanie Woollam with a comfortable lead of 5 points, one of these four was one of the above that failed to cover the correct cloth and so the results left us with a fantastic round and a fantastic winner, and this time two others within ticket marks.

1st. Stephanie Woollam with Ob. Ch. Especially Russ, Working Sheepdog. 91/2 years.
2nd. Sylvia Bishop with Suenijon He’s Magic, Working Sheepdog. 14 points lost.
3rd. Phil Jeffries with Ob. Ch. Tycoon Telepathy, Working Sheepdog. 15 points lost.
4th Anita Neal with Ob. Ch. Chalkwell Chezzi, Working Sheepdog. 16.25 points lost.

A championship not of the highest order I felt, rather lacking in atmosphere compared to some I have attended, but the test and the work that we watched certainly brought out the best in two extremely worthy champions.