THE TOP ten finalists in the 2002/3 Vetzyme/Our Dogs Pick of the Litter Competition received their trophies and prize money, plus bags full of goodies, at the Chesford Grange Hotel, Kenilworth last week from TV presenter Peter Purves writes Sally Pointon. The lunch-time event was a celebration of the competition which has proved to be a stepping stone for some of our top winning dogs over the past 15 years.
This years winner, Carol and Gordon Fosters Briard, Fostebrie Fabulous Dream (Nico), amassed a staggering 288 points to take the title, winning 13 BPIS along the way. BPIB at Crufts, Nicos ancestry has a good record in the competition as his mother is a past runner-up overall and winner of the pastoral group, and his grandmother came second in the pastoral group and third overall.
Two Border Terriers filled second and third spot, with Ian and Linda Hardmans Bonosue Ozymandious (Ozzy) pipping Betty and Brian Dickinsons Badgerholme Ripon Garnet by just three points (256 and 253 respectively). Both these dogs, too, have a history in the competition - Ozzys mother came second in the terrier group in 2000, and this is the sixth time the Dickinsons have had a finalist in the top three. Sadly, this will be Betty and Brians last Pick of Litter competition as they have made the hard decision to give up breeding but not showing, so we will continue to see them in and around our rings.
Tim Smith, PR for Vetzyme, welcomed the winners and their owners on arrival as they met in the Terrace Suite for tea/coffee and biscuits before the official introductions. After welcoming everyone and thanking them for their contributions, Ian Leadingham, general sales manager for Vetzyme, explained that, unfortunately, Lisa Carlin, marketing manager, and Debbie Harness, who organises the competition, were missing as Debbie had developed conjunctivitis overnight and Lisa was driving her back to Hull hope you are feeling better, Debbie.
In getting through Lisas wish list, Ian outlined what the competition means to Vetzyme, saying that one of the most important elements is that it should be fun; and, as it is one of the first competitions new exhibitors get involved with, that it brings new people into dog showing.
David Cavill, with his Dogs Monthly cap on, spoke about the importance and responsibility of breeding healthy, sound dogs with good temperaments, something that the competition encourages, rewarding consistency in the ring. David had just returned from Finland where 98% of the canine population are pedigree dogs, a key reason being that, of course, you know the size, shape, temperament etc of a pure-bred dog as compared with a cross-bred a trend the UK may follow as society becomes more complex.
Vince Hogan, managing director of OUR DOGS, then entertained us with his witty talk in which he said how good it was to see some new faces among the audience, as well as some old ones. Unfortunately John Holden, OD advertisement manager, and Norman Clifton, who are both involved with the competition, were unable to attend this year.
Guest speaker Peter Purves then took the floor, saying that Vince would be a hard act to follow though from what I gather he had come out the victor on the golf course but thats another story!
Attending his 8th (or was it his 9th?!) Pick of Litter final, Peter said that he enjoys it as much as any of his dog days out, and he entertained us with his version of This Is My Life, recounting his days as an actor before becoming a household name in the television programmes Blue Peter and Dr Who. Nowadays, of course, he is well known for his involvement with the BBCs coverage of Crufts and this years was his 25th anniversary of the show. A dog lover himself, he current has three dogs as he describes them, very sensible breeds - Newfies and Pekes!
Once the presentations had been made everyone enjoyed a delicious finger buffet before wending their way home some of the contestants having a nine hour journey to end this memorable day. The stamina and enthusiasm of dog folk never wanes, does it!
Footnote: This years competition ran from August 5, 2002 to April 13, 2003 under a new set of rules and points system, with wins in adult and puppy classes between the age of 6 and 12 months qualifying.