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Combined Canine Pup of the Year 2001
report by Marleen Collins

Music Man hits the right note

Let’s meet the Knowles family, as they used to say in a certain family quiz show. First we have daughters, Haley, Sam and Kirsty whose hobbies include Junior Handling. Indeed young Samantha, Irish Junior Handler of the Year, made it through to the final six of the International competition at this year’s Crufts. Then there‚s Dad, Barry and Mum, Jackie who is fast becoming a star around the Glen of Imaal area since her appearance on East Coast radio.

Finally but not least, there is their young homebred Cocker Spaniel, Riley who, on Thursday , March 14th, gained the grand title of Irish Pup of The Year, 2001. Riley, or to give him his more formal title, Rushmi Music Man, appeared to be not in the least bit daunted by the attentions of the press photographers although he seemed less sure about what to do with the very large cup which he now owns. The Knowles family, I am sure, will be delighted with the trip Riley has won for them although I foresee possible family disagreements about who is actually going to avail of the opportunity to visit a European Dog Show.

The judges for the first part of the event, the sixteenth Combined Canine Irish Pup of the Year competition, were Irish judges, Mrs Elaine Drennan, Ms Una Rigney and Mrs Patsy Lawlor. They were involved in individually assessing the sixteen POTY finalists. The Foot and Mouth crisis last year had caused the cancellation of many of the Irish All Breed Championship Shows which normally provide a Best Puppy Stakes winner for this prestigious competition. This year, with a fewer number of shows, the Combined Canine committee allowed the top puppy dog and bitch in each puppy stakes to become POTY finalists.

Celebrate

Eight of the sixteen were then shortlisted to be examined by Mrs Paula Lehkonen from Finland. As already mentioned she chose Riley, the Cocker Spaniel for the top spot. Runner-up this year was Mrs Frances Toman’s Pembroke Corgi, Ardenlee Desert Fox At Mango.

Desert Fox’s breeders Gail and Ken Huttley were on hand to take photographs and also help Frances celebrate winning a large trophy and a trip to Crufts. In third place and winning a weekend golfing break for her owners, Moira and Stephanie Walsh was the American Cocker Spaniel, Kroonagem Lady in Red At Silvercross who was bred by Joe Harvey . Gemma, who was handled on the night by Sean Carroll, has only been to two open shows where she collected BPIS on both occasions and only one championship show where she won the puppy stakes at six and half months.

In fourth spot was the apricot Toy Poodle, Trendicote Fireflame who is owned by Kay Ryan and Ann Ingram; little Amy has already two group twos under her belt. Fifth was Michael and Linda Durcan‚s Boxer, Redstone Double Trouble while sixth was Mrs Liz Wogan;s homebred Keeshond, Deminac The Partisan. Young Jacques has already won two GSs with BOB, a third group placing at nine months and he won the Utility group at only eleven months of age; he was also second in his puppy class at LKA.

Seventh in the competition was Annie and Billy Cochrane‚s homebred Miniature Schnauzer, Kinorla Just Blame Me. Freya was obviously following in her litter brother, Kinorla Made Ya Look, who attended the POTY finals in England. Freya was handled on the night by a very dapper looking Paul Hanna. In eighth spot was Noreen Clarke‚s homebred Samoyed, Icemist Nordic Dancer. Whoops , I nearly forget to mention the two IKC scrutineers for the competition, Dolores Nugent and Josephine Pope.

All eight finalists won a large trophy and a rosette; the first three also won the additional special prizes mentioned above which were provided by the competition‚s main sponsor, Pampered Pets who were represented by Mr Aidan McNamara. Each qualifier also received a lovely crystal plate courtesy of OUR DOGS ; these are really special reminders of the occasion for the owners as each plate has not only their dog‚s name engraved on it but also a copy of their dog‚s photograph which was contained in the colour programme for the evening.

There are always two sides to an Irish Pup of the Year evening; the more serious side of the competition for the much-coveted title and then there is the social side of the event. It always amazes me each year how well the dog fraternity can clean up !!! The sparkle in the clothes (and in certain eyes) could nearly blind you and that was just the men!!

Who was it once said Œ Go west young man ? Perhaps it was John Walsh Senior talking to John Walsh Junior for this year the POTY final was held in a lovely new venue to the west of Dublin, in the aptly named CityWest Hotel, Saggart. For those not present at the Edo‚ and who think the grandeur of the previous venue, the Selbourne Hotel, could not be surpassed, then think again . indeed several people were so impressed that they began to mimic Lloyd Grossman‚s famous saying Œ Who do you think lives in a house like this‚.

This hotel has an entrance hall to die for with a spectacular old sweeping staircase and antique fire-place with dancing flames. The staircase was a fitting prop for the photographs of the committee as many of the ladies, dressed in their finery, looked as if they had spent their life gliding smoothly down the wooden stairway (Scarlett O‚Hara eat your heart out).

The ballroom where the main event took place was spacious with a large hall off it housing yet another ring in which the preliminary judging had taken place in the afternoon. This year there was seating around the second ring which allowed spectators to watch that part of the proceedings. Both rings and tables were decorated with large and small floral displays which had been arranged by Mrs Ann Rafter, President of the Combined Canine Club.

Bouquet

There was as usual, a break between the parade of competitors and the final judging during which dinner was served. How can I describe the meal which was one of the best I have ever eaten at a large function? I think I‚ll have to copy Jamie Oliver and just say it was ‘pukka’. The Irish musicians who played during the judging, took a rest while the meal was served ; two young Irish dancers, however, ensured that the spectators were not bored during the interval. Before judging recommenced, Gerry and Louise Casey, members of the committee were presented with a large bouquet of flowers to celebrate their twentieth anniversary.

To keep everyone amused during the early part of the proceedings, each table was invited to complete a quiz with multi-choice questions; this served as an ice-breaker at those tables where the diners did not really know their companions. It must have worked very well for, by the end of the evening, it appeared that almost everyone was bopping away on the dance-floor when it was time for us to go home. Perhaps I should rephrase that; some people were bopping while others tried to jive with their husband’s with somewhat disastrous results. My only complaint about the whole evening was that we had to drive home instead of flying in one of the two helicopters parked at the front door of the hotel!

Combined Canine Pup of the Year 2001
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