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Purina Pro Plan/Dog World Pup of the Year 2006

Purina ProPlan Pup of the Year 2006 was Mrs Ellen Blackburn’s Miniature Wirehaired Dachshund Ch Kanix Hilda at Stargang pictured here with handler Joanne Blackburn, judge Miss Ann Ingram and Nestle/Purina Managing Director Mr Stuart Irvine.

The Purina Proplan/Dog World Pup of the Year contest is one of the most prestigious events of the year and winners from these heats have gone on to become some of the most important dogs of their generation, including eventual Crufts BIS winners.

This event usually takes place in London, but after consulting various qualifiers and guests over a period of time it was clear that they would prefer not to have to battle with the capital’s traffic or the London underground system in the rush hour if it was avoidable.

After much deliberation it was decided to make the move to The Corn Exchange at Bedford, and they made us all most welcome. Hospitality and the dogs’ benching were in the Harpur Suite, so it was a very busy and excited atmosphere from the start. As the main event approached people made their way across to the Main Auditorium to take their seats around the white fenced and green carpeted arena. The venue has exceptionally high ceilings and this made it possible to project the events of the main ring onto a huge piece of wall so a good view of the ring was guaranteed regardless of where one was in the room.

The new venue was not the only innovation this year, the commentary has previously been given by the eminent Mr Bernard Hall, but this year it was decided to have two commentators and they were Mr Frank Kane and Dr Jessica Holm. There was a natural rapport between them and it worked very well.

When everyone was seated the events got underway and the first to enter the ring for a lap of honour was the PotY 2004 Overall Winner, the Mini Wirehaired Dachshund Ch Drakesleat Otto Bahn with his owner/breeder Mrs Zena Thorn-Andrews. Otto has now notched up 10CCs, including BIS at the Wire Haired Championship Show and two Group places as well as proving himself as a sire having a six month old daughter who has already one CC to her credit; having started the year as the PotY 04 Overall Winner he ended it as the Top Mini, what a lovely year he had!

The qualifiers for the Pro Plan/Dog World PotY Final 2005 entered the ring one by one in the order in which they had qualified; and after they had all been presented they exited again and the judge Miss Ann Ingram was introduced to everybody. Miss Ingram originally showed boxers and subsequently Lhasa Apsos, she has had 21 UK Champions as well as over 100 Irish Champions, and is an All Breeds FCI judge.

The first three qualifiers then re-entered the ring and as each dog was gone over and put through its paces, the voices of Jessica Holm and Frank Kane each gave a detailed account of every dog. After being assessed, they left the ring for the next qualifier to enter, keeping three dogs in the ring at all times.

After every dog had been seen they were all brought back in for the judge to cast a second eye back over each one before making her decision on which she would retain for the first cut. This really was a case of being spoilt for choice, and it must be said that each one of them was a winner just by virtue of the fact that they were there at all. The quality was exceptionally high with many of the qualifiers having already won CCs and several more being Top Puppy in their breed for 05; and so the choice was made and the 30 dogs were down to 12.

In the first cut Miss Ingram kept the OES Allmark Georgio Armani, Mini Wire Haired Dachshund Ch Kanix Hilda at Stargang, Miniature Poodle Minarets Star Assignment, the Boxer Bellvalley Meridyth, English Springer Spanial Roandew Dez Diddit JW, Golden Retriever Shinehill Winter Solstice, Standard Long Haired Dachshund Dachville Perfect Blend, PBGV Soletrader Donald Duck, Lakeland Terrier Saredon Paint The Town Red, Pekingese Yakee Sight For Sore Eyes, Beagle Ch Dialynne Chaise and the Weimaraner Gunalt Muse at Rutillis.

Each of these dogs resettled and moved again and Miss Ingram was left with the very difficult task of making her second cut. After due consideration she retained the Mini Wire Haired Dachshund Ch Kanix Hilda at Stargang bred by Mrs Wilberg, owned by Ellen Blackburn and shown by her daughter Joanne Blackburn Bennett. Second to be called was the Miniature Poodle Minarets Star Assignment owned and bred by Melanie Harwood who was put through by Tom Mather and Ken Sinclair at SWKA, Melanie is the third generation of Poodle breeders following in the footsteps of her mother Carol and her grandmother Muriel Harwood. The next to make the final line up was the English Springer Spanial Roandew Dez Diddit JW, owned and bred by John Palmer who qualified at Midland Counties under Derek Smith, he had won his JW by the age of 10 months and on the day Dez qualified his sister Daizie Dunnit won the bitch stakes. The PBGV Soletrader Donald Duck which was Howard Ogden’s selection from Richmond took the penultimate place in the shortlist, Donald was bred by Gavin Robertson & Paul Sparks and is owned by Sara Robertson & Paul Sparks, he has one CC, three RCCs, BPIS at Belfast and was Top Puppy in Breed; the final selection was the Lakeland Terrier Saredon Paint The Town Red owned by John Averis and Pamela Cross Stern, bred by Judy Averis he has one CC & two RCCs.

So now we were down from the original 30 to the very final five and Miss Ingram stood and looked just one more time before announcing her decision – for a second year running top spot went to a Mini Wire Haired Dachshund, this year Ch Kanix Hilda at Stargang. Hilda has four CCs and eight RCCs, was Top Puppy and Top Mini Wire Bitch 2005, BPIS at her first Championship show and BIS at a Club Championship show soon after.

The Reserve PotY 05 went to the Miniature Poodle Minarets Star Assignment, Ozzy has only been lightly shown as he has had to make way for his famous dad Ch Minarets Secret Assignment (Rodney) as well as several other young males from this hugely successful kennel.

There was a note of irony to the final when one realised that Melanie’s mother Carol Harwood had been the heat judge at Southern Counties who qualified Hilda, but Melanie said her mother was delighted that her selection had done so well and so had their own breeding.

The event decided and credits given, everyone retired to the Harpur Suite for light refreshments and lots of talking – we doggie people enjoy that! After our drinks and talks we returned to the main auditorium for a super meal which was second to none and this was followed by the address from Stuart Irvine.

There had been over 10,000 puppies entered for the heats to get to this final, so he congratulated all the qualifiers and the winner on their achievement. Nestle Purina will continue their long association with this competition and will keep it open to all puppies, but they are particularly proud of their product and the clients who use it. He also congratulated all their members who have done so well in the ring, before handing over to his guest speaker Mr Frank Kane.

Mr Kane thanked his hosts and said the topic of his talk was Little Britain, which brought quite a giggle to everyone present; he explained he was not doing an impersonation of ‘the only gay in the village’ but he was talking about our little islands which make up our little Britain. He compared the entries at foreign shows where they are delighted at entries of 2,000 dogs at the top shows, or even 7,000 over a two day show when we have 10,000 dogs at shows every week during the season and sometimes twice a week. He compared how a judge can be qualified to judge a Group or BIS at Crufts and not be classified as qualified to do a group in other countries because they don’t judge some obscure breed. In short we should be very proud of everything we have here because our shows, judges, clever breeders and our dogs are amongst the best in the world, with UK champions prized world-wide.

Stuart Irvine then announced the presentation of the trophies; firstly the Catherine Sutton Memorial Trophy was presented to Hilda by Catherine’s daughter Patricia, then Marion Spavin awarded Zena Thorn Andrews the trophy in memory of the famous Champion Dialynne Gamble for last year’s winner Otto. The final trophy was the Tom Horner award which went to Patsy and Stephen Hollings who were Top Breeders for the 12th time and this year had seven new champions and 14 CC winners. They have well over 50 UK champions, the UK Breed CC Record-holder, Top Brood All-breeds and the first All-Breeds Championship BIS winner.

Congratulations to the organisers and sponsors for a wonderful day, and a terrific competition. Congratulations too, to all who have done so well and achieved so much in this ‘Little Britain’ of ours.

To see Photo Special 1 - click here

To see Photo Special 2 - click here

To see Photo Special 3 - click here