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Scruffts final hotly contested

The PAL Scruffts family crossbreed of the year competition was very hotly contested this year and the decisions were exceptionally difficult for the judge, TV vet Joe Inglis and assistant judge Ben Ashcroft.

Heats for each category of this final are held throughout the year and they cover a good geographic spread.

The first category was the most handsome crossbred dog 6 months to 5 yrs, The Chief steward was Dr Mason Minns, and he managed to get the audience to give the competitors a rousing applause in time to the music as they each trooped in so proudly, most of the dogs were wagging their tails constantly. Nick Brooks-Ward interviewed the handler of each qualifier while the judges started at the opposite end of the line up and checked over each exhibit.

The eventual winner of this final was Jaffa who came from Markinch, Fife and he had qualified in the Edinburgh heat; born in rescue he had progressed to gain his Bronze and Silver Good Citizen Awards and also does agility. In 2nd place was Dickens who had spent months in the NCDL kennels at Kenilworth, but after being nursed back to health he has gradually regained his trust in humans. Third spot went to Finnley who qualified in the Shoreham heat and is another rescue dog with a loving gentle nature.

The second final was the most handsome crossbred dog 6 years+. Again Mason Minns lead the crowd into the clapping as each qualifier appeared and again Nick Brooks-Ward carried out the interviews. The eventual winner was Sue Small’s Merlin, a lurcher who was abandoned by his owners when he broke his foot, he followed Sue home and has been with her ever since. Second was Casper, a member of the Snow family who originally came from the RSPCA kennels at Leicester; he has watched the children grow up and he enjoys the fuss they make of him. The third place in the final was Ben who qualified from the heat held at Battersea, another rescue dog, he went to the Westerman family at the age of 11 months, he is now 11 years and they say he is an absolute star and they could write a book.

This time it was the turn of the Prettiest Crossbred Bitch 6 months – 5 years. Again the audience clapped in time to the music as each competitor entered the arena and they all fitted the class description so well. The winner of this final was Buffy, a bichon x collie who is trained by her young owner in obedience classes and has just started agility too. Mrs Susan Pearce’s Heather won through from the Birmingham heat, Heather was another rescue dog, this time coming from the Blue Cross. A rescue from the NCDL at Sadberge took third place, Little Bear looked just like a bear – hence the name and she brings much pleasure to the family with whom she lives.

When asked what had brought him to this decision, Joe Inglis said that this young owner and her dog made such a wonderful team.

The fourth of the six finals was the Prettiest Crossbred Bitch 6 years+. And the very pretty Portia, a mostly white springer spaniel cross belonging to the Mackenzie family from Croydon in Surrey, she is so clearly full of energy and enthusiasm. A very happy looking Mrs Emery proudly brought out her Kimi to take the second place and third spot was given to Rosie another NCDL rescue who had been found in a box aged about six weeks, she now lives with Judith Rigby and her Dachshunds and does obedience.

The category Child’s Best Friend was described by Joe Inglis as the hardest class yet, it as about the bond between child and pet and he gave this final to Arzhia Habibi and Dylan, another NCDL puppy they got when Dylan was 12 weeks old and they certainly had a very good relationship. Emma Hobday and Milo from Bromsgrove took second place, Milo is a three year old English Mastiff x Irish Wolfhound from the Animal Samaritans – every dog deserves his moment of fame, but part way round their lap of honour Milo cocked his leg and although the other dogs waited for him for some time, eventually all the dogs had left the ring before Milo finished, much to the amusement of the entire audience and embarrassment of his young owner. In third was Miss Laura Moreno and Scampie from Plymouth, Scampie is now eight years old and Laura wants to work with rescue dogs when she is older.

The last of the finals was the class crossbreed The Judge Would Most Like To Take Home and this was judged on the dog’s personality and temperament. The winner of this final was Sue Sharp’s Jinnie, a Border Collie x lurcher and they are active members of the Prince Rock Dog Training and Agility Club, Jinnie loves agility and flyball and has gained her KC Good Citizen Bronze Silver and Gold awards. Second choice was Taffy who went to live with her new owner Alison Welch when her previous owner could no longer care for her, Taffy is a Welsh Springer x Labrador and is a great protector of the five family cats. The final placing of the finals went to Monty, owned by Mr Iain Airth of Oldham. Iain said Monty has been more therapeutic than any drugs since his partner was diagnosed with MS.

It never ceases to amaze me that these dogs can ever trust people when they have been so abused, I don’t think it works the other way round, on the few occasions that people are hurt by dogs, they seem to carry that mistrust for the rest of their lives, and often seem to pass it on to their children too.

Now for the Grand Final when the winner of each final competes for the title PAL Scruffts Family Crossbreed of the Year 2003 Overall Winner. Each of the winners came in to rapturous applause and Joe Inglis and Ben Ashcroft considered each one again. They said it was a fantastic competition and it was good to judge on personality and character instead of looks, it was very hard to choose, but they eventually decided the relationship between dog and owner which won them over was Dylan and his young owner Miss Arzhie Habibi who won a year’s supply of PAL, life membership to the KC Companion Dog Club, a free KC Good Citizen Dog Scheme and a PAL Scrufft crystal trophy.

This is such a rewarding competition and more details can always be found on the website.