Positive commitment on show at Discover Dogs

Whilst a move always brings with it some teething troubles there were very few to speak of on this occasion. Could this be due to the groundwork which was done by the stalwarts of the Kennel Club under the auspices of Vanessa McAlpine along with the band of stewards headed by Gerald King? I suspect the answer would be “probably”. At the time when passes were being sent out to the breed club representatives we were in the throes of a postal strike and the Kennel Club took the sensible precaution of not including car park passes in the envelopes. It transpires that the car park tickets had to be paid for in advance and it would have cost the KC a considerable sum of money as it is not possible to get a refund on pre-paid car park tickets.

Although a plan of the layout had been included in the breed club envelopes it was not an easy task locating the 7 Groups upon entering at the dog entrance. This was due to the fact that, unlike its newer sister, the ‘original’ building has several pillars which obscure ones’ vision and it was impossible to see the huge banners hanging over the booths of the respective Groups. Perhaps next year there will be several large maps adjacent to all the various entrances with a large ‘you are here’ arrow to assist both exhibitors and visitors in locating their eventual destinations.


The whole of the upper floor was sealed off and the entire ground floor given over to the event. It was apparent upon entering the area designated for the breed club booths that there was an increased amount of space allocated to the aisles and this was appreciated by those who manned the booths over both days as they did not feel so enclosed as they did in previous years. It was a pity that the booths themselves could not have been enlarged a little which would have provided more room for the very dogs who were, after all, is said and done, the reason for visiting the complex in the first place!

There was quite a good selection of outlets selling food for exhibitors and visitors but they did not open up for business until 9am and many had travelled for several hours in order to arrive at least an hour in advance in order to be able to set up their booths. As a consequence there were several thirsty and hungry individuals waiting to pounce on the outlets as they opened for business. Surprisingly I did not see any areas where only drinks could be purchased, thus significantly reducing queuing time.

Apart from the main Ring there was a constant stream of activities in 3 additional rings: the Young Kennel Club Ring had many Young Kennel Club (YKC ) Members participating in grooming presentations, obedience skills, jumping with Rufus & appearances by Britain’s Got Talent Kate, Gin & latest addition Ice. The Training & Display Ring featured all sorts and levels of Good Citizen Dog Scheme displays, including Dogs for the Disabled & Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. The Companion Dog Club Ring had multi-breed judge & Kennel Club General Committee Member, Frank Kane, judging the Pedigree Classes on both days and Annette Conn judging bitches on Day 1 and Carolyn Menteith judging dogs on Day 2. Best Bitch came from the Rescue Class in the shape of a Shih Tzu/Poodle cross called Polly Anna, owned by Jakki Mattingley from Broadstairs in Kent.

For those of you of either a squeamish or tearful disposition I would advise you to skip the next few lines as I have tears welling in my eyes as I write the next part. Polly Anna had her tongue cut off by a group of children and somehow she has had her faith in humans restored as the relationship she has with Jakki is a joy to behold. Best Dog on Sunday was Harvey, owned by Emma Tripp from Hitchin in Hertfordshire. Harvey won out of the Most Appealing Eyes Class. In the final challenge it was Polly Anna who came out on top.

In the Main Ring proceedings got under way bright & early for the National Junior.


Scruffts is guaranteed to pull a huge crowd of spectators and there was not an empty seat to be seen. In fact people were standing all around the entrances to the Main ring just to catch a glimpse of the competition. The judge for this was none other than that veteran of Blue Peter and popular doggie man, Peter Purves. The commentator was another celebrity, although probably on account of his voice, in the shape of Marcus Bentley who provides the narrative for Big Brother. Scruffts supports the Kennel Club Charitable Trust whose mission is “making a difference for dogs”.

There are 4 classes: Golden Oldie, Child’s Best Friend, Prettiest Crossbreed Bitch & Most Handsome Crossbreed Dog. The assets being looked for by the judge are: good health, good temperament with other people & dogs, good character & good personality. This year was the first time that the Wendy Richard Trophy was presented. Wendy was a great supporter of this competition and had a long association with Our Dogs and her husband, John Burns, presented the trophy to the eventual winner who came from the Child’s Best Friend Class in the shape of Bouncer, a 10 year old English & Welsh Springer/Cavalier King Charles crossbreed. His owner, Paula Cogan had a double lung transplant in March this year.

Mary Ray gave a superb master class in Trick & Treat Training and in another session provided us with the spectacle of Heelwork To Music in the shape of her Riverdance routine. Another heelwork to music display was given by talented Richard Curtis and his Portuguese Water Dog. The perennial favourites, the Southern Golden Retriever Display Team wowed us all with their with their musical routine.

The Kennel Gazette Junior Warrant Winner of the Year Semi Final Competition attracted an entry of 64 dogs who had qualified over the past year. The two judges for this were Stuart Plane, of Scottish Terrier fame, and Marita Rodgers of Standard Poodle fame. Between them they selected a total of ten dogs to go forward to the Final which will be held at Crufts. Annette Oliver-Wyles provided the commentary as both judges assessed their allocated dogs simultaneously in adjacent rings and she never fluffed her lines once! Stuart’s final selection was: Alexander’s Dalmatian, Offordale White Lady JW, Daltrey & Brooks’ American Cocker Spaniel, Bananadance Ben Jammin JW, Garbutt’s Standard Poodle, Tianola Step Out With Style JW, Lawless’ Rhodesian Ridgeback, Faahac Farenya JW & Sandiford & Lewis’ Gordon Setter, Hernwood Talladega Racer JW. Marita’s final selection was: Holman’s Pomeranian, Altina’s Truly Celestial JW, Sheridan & Walker’s Newfoundland, Hanningfield Touch of Magic JW, Studholme’s Maltese, Zumarnik Forget Me Not JW, Tait’s German Shorthaired Pointer, Benboee Bachata JW & Wiseman’s Standard Poodle, Angelic Aphrodite For Millbelle JW.


Frank Kane was available to sign copies of his newly-released book, Judging The Gundog Breeds, exclusively at the Our Dogs stand. This book is a must-have for all judges of not only this group but of any breed because it is written in such a manner as to assist all aspiring and established judges in the task of assessing dogs. Lavishly illustrated it is a sound investment. Our Dogs’ David Cavill was very much in evidence and I spotted him at various points around the venue.
Feedback from the breed enthusiasts was positive on the whole. They were very pleased with the layout & with the width of the aisles which surrounded the breed booths. Contrary to a popular misconception, members of the General Committee were highly visible on both days as they walked around inconspicuously. I pointed out Chairman Ronnie Irving, Valerie Foss, Dr. Ron James, Meg Purnell-Carpenter & Ruth Barbour to several exhibitors as they strolled around the event. Perhaps it might be a good idea to publish their photographs ( especially a recent one ) prior to such events in order to introduce them to the hundreds of dog folk who would welcome the fact that they are not remote in any way and do take an interest in what is going on.

Yet again Discover Dogs was a runaway success thanks to the participation of the hundreds of dogs and breed aficionados who gave willingly of their time & expertise. They are the real stars of the event and I would like to take this opportunity of thanking them all for the wonderful time that was had by each & every visitor as a result of their positive commitment to our wonderful sport.

View pictures from the show by clicking here

Bouncer top of Scruffts 2009

Judge Peter Purves with Kennel Club Chief Executive Rosemary Smart, winner Paula Cogan and John Burns
Judge Peter Purves with Kennel Club Chief Executive Rosemary Smart,
winner Paula Cogan and John Burns

Bouncer from Willesden in London was crowned Scruffts Family Crossbreed Dog of the Year 2009 at a packed Earls Court 1 in West London.

The glittering grand final took place today, with celebrity judge Peter Purves, of Blue Peter and Doctor Who fame, taking into account the importance of dog training and responsible dog ownership, judging the entrants on good character, health and temperament as well as looks. Bouncer, aged 10, stood out above the competition with his owner Paula Cogan, to win the overall prize.

Bouncer was up against over 70 other competitors, after winning the Child’s Best Friend class earlier in the day. He collected the ‘Wendy Richard Trophy’, in honour of the late EastEnders star, who was a long-standing supporter of the competition and Discover Dogs. The trophy was presented by her husband, John Burns.

Her owner Paula had a double lung transplant in March, and her best friend Bouncer was allowed to see her after a week. She said: “I was in my dressing gown when he came to see me, he was a little sheepish at first but when he realised who I was he came running into my arms. ‘He’s so affectionate and calm for a spaniel, and to win the Scruffts Grand Final was a dream come true, I can’t believe it.’

Scruffts is run in support of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, which has donated over £4m worth of grants to benefit the canine world since its inception in 1987. Its mission is to promote the improvement of dogs through charitable donations and helping to fund research into canine health problems.

Polly Anna crowned at Discover Dogs

Polly Anna

Polly Anna, a Shih Tzu/Poodle cross aged seven from Broadstairs in Kent has been named overall Best Bitch in the grand final of the Companion Dog Club Competition at London’s leading dog event, Discover Dogs 2009, held at a packed Earls Court.

Renowned canine behaviourist, trainer and author, Annette Conn, who judged the competition, congratulated owner Jakki Mattingly at Earls Court today on their amazing achievement.

Polly Anna was crowned overall Best Bitch after winning the Best Rescue Dog category of the competition. She has spent long periods of her life in rescue centres after enduring a great deal of suffering. One family she lived with were cruel to her, and her tongue was cut out with a pair of scissors and she suffered facial disfigurement. Jakki Mattingly said: “When we got her from the rescue centre she was so frightened and nervous. After coming to a loving family she was able to overcome her fear of children, and now works as a canine client contact, assisting adults and children as well with therapy sessions.She is a truly remarkable dog and we’re delighted she has won this prestigious award here at Earls Court.”

The competition saw hundreds of dog of all ages, shapes and sizes step into the ring to compete in a series of fun categories. The dogs are split by sex, with the girls taking centre stage today and the boys following suit tomorrow.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club spokesperson, said: “The Companion Dog Club competition is always one of the great highlights of Discover Dogs as it gives all kinds of dogs the chance to shine. In our new, bigger arena for 2009, I’m sure the contestants had a fantastic day and we’d like to congratulate Polly Anna and Jakki on their fabulous success with this truly remarkable story.”

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