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Dalmatian of the Year 2004

Dalmatian of the Year 2004 winner, Ch Tollwood Lionel at Kilndandy JW

The tenth annual running of the North of England Dalmatian Club’s special event Dalmatian of the Year took place at the Sheffield Park Hotel on Saturday 15th January writes John McCarthy

The Special takes the form of an invitation only match with three secret judges (identified only as they are introduced to the ring), two breed specialists and one all rounder form the team. This year Jean Lanning was joined by Shirley Aldenhoven and Diane Dinsdale, each charged with the task of finding the best of the best.

Since its inception ten years ago this show, which is both admired and envied by many other breeds for its professional presentation and smooth running, has been the highlight of the Dalmatian show year.

The ballroom is set out with a carpeted ring and the competitors collect in an adjoining room to be introduced to the audience. The draw for the first round match is made, starting with the puppies. Only after this had been completed are the judges announced and welcomed to the ring. This year 19 puppies qualified and 16 were paraded for competition. Each pair are matched and dispatched in turn with handshakes and hugs from each handler when the winner is announced.

After three rounds, the last of which produced a tie, the Dalmatian Puppy of the Year was announced: Karen Goff-Leggett’s 10 month old black bitch She’s A Legend of Washakie.

The procedure was then repeated and the Dogs, with 15 qualified and 12 competing were paraded and judged. Yet again the final round produced a tie, and this time the winning dog was John and Cathie McCarthy’s 3 yr old Liver Ch.Tollwood Lionel At Kilndandy J.W.

The pace now quickened with the bitches in the ring, 18 qualified and 12 appeared for the judges. Once again the third round produced a tie, and after a rematch the winning bitch was Brian and Gail Levy’s 3 yr old Liver Norwegian import Svolvaergeita’s Crown Jewel At Motek.

Finally the winning dog and bitch were called in to challenge for the title of Dalmatian of the Year, and after a final look and a circuit of the ring the judges choice was Ch.Tollwood Lionel at Kilndandy J.W. handled by Christine McCarthy. Lord Kirkham, the Club’s patron, presented each of the three winning competitors with silver cups and a large bag of Pedigree Complete. In addition Lord and Lady Kirkham awarded every competitor both a medal and a certificate. the club President Joe Neath then presented each of the judges with a memento of their day.

The event then turned into a social evening with a black tie dinner followed by music and dancing until the early hours. With the first competitors for next year’s event already chosen at Manchester Show (You have to win a CC or Best Puppy to be invited), speculation on the names of next year’s Judge’s was already under way, and planning a campaign to acquire an invitation was on everyone’s mind.