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Richie goes DOTY in Doncaster

Dalmatian of the Year 2006 - Ch & Ir Ch. Tollwood Lionel at Kilndandy JW with judges
Mr Ellis Hulme, Mrs Avril Bale-Stock and Dr Bill Gardner

It takes a full 12 months to arrange and run an event like The North of England Dalmatian Club’s (NoEDC) Dalmatian of the Year (DOTY). The first qualifiers for 2007 have already been chosen at Manchester Show (CC winners and best puppy) but for the organisers the hard work has already started.

The event took place at the Holiday Inn Doncaster on January 13th and lasted close to 15 hours. In the morning the team started setting out the ballroom for the day’s three matches. These start with the Puppies followed by Dogs then Bitches. Each competitor has to register an hour before the first match begins.

The formalities

At 11 o’clock sharp the Club Chairman Stef Kazana opened the proceedings and introduces the MC Andrew Winfrow from Pedigree, who are once more sponsoring the event.

Without delay the MC starts the first match by inviting the 12 Puppy competitors to enter the ballroom where they are introduced to the audience. The Chairman then makes the draw pairing the entry for the first round and the puppies return to the collecting ring, in a room, which adjoins the ballroom. At last, the moment has arrived for all to hear who the three secret judges are.

This year the first in to the room is all rounder Ellis Hulme dressed as befits the occasion in a dinner suit and black bow tie, following him came a very elegantly dressed Avril Bale Stock (Appaloosa), and a very suave Dr Bill Gardner (Wennedrage) also dressed in a dinner suit. Both well respected Dalmatian Specialists.

The puppies

Formalities over, the Match starts immediately with the first pair of puppies in the ring to be examined and moved before one is chosen to move forward to the second round. The match proceeds at a swift pace until we reach the final round and the three finalists - Dalmark the Shaded Moon at Nospar JW who is this year’s top winning Dalmatian Puppy, Dalpetro Desdemona, and Man about Town at Hunterswood JW - stand in the middle of the room whilst the judges ponder their placings.

Each judge marks his or her choice on a slip and these are passed to the MC who draws out the drama for a few seconds (which felt like minutes to these waiting) before declaring Man About Town at Hunterswood JW to be NoEDC Dalmatian Puppy of the Year 2006. A roar of applause and congratulations fills the room, but time presses on and with all the puppies recalled to the ring, the chairman invites the club Patron Lord Kirkham CVO (of DFS fame) to present the Cups, Medals and Certificates to each of the qualifiers.

The dogs

A ten minute break and the event begins again with the 16 Dogs now introduced and the draw made the judges return to their positions and the first pair was called to the ring for assessment and choice. Just one from each pairing moving forward to the second round. In this type of event there are no losers, as all of the competitors have had to win their way into the competition. So handshakes and kisses between handlers greet each announcement. An hour or more later the Dog finalist stand in the Ring Janice Petersen’s Ch Buffrey Beau Bell at Daedalus and Cathie McCarthy’s Ch & Ir. Ch. Tollwood Lionel at Kilndandy JW.

For what seemed like an age the judges look over and handle both dogs then move them once again before sitting down at their tables and taking one long, last look before putting pen to paper.

The MC tantalises the audience once again with a few jokes and then announces the Male finalist for Dalmatian Dog of the Year 2006. Qualified is Ch & Ir. Ch Tollwood Lionel at Kilndandy JW.

The bitches

Another short break and the ballroom audience were introduced to the eight Bitch competitors, the numbers drawn and the judges return to their task of separating the best from the best. Each pairing brings forward two top quality bitches and is a test of the judges as well as the competitors, but at last the final pairing Mark Dunnachie’s Ch Dvojica Voodoo JW and Naomi Forrest’s Choosespots Camellia by Spotswood stand in the centre of the ring and the judges make their penultimate choice. This time the Dalmatian Bitch of the Year 2006 is Ch Dvojica Voodoo JW. Already this lovely bitch is the top winning Dalmatian of 2006 and now she will go head to head with The Joint Top Male Dalmatian 2006 for the title NoEDC Dalmatian of the Year.

The Final!

In the ring; Ch. Ir. Ch. Tollwood Lionel at Kilndandy JW a 5 year old Liver dog, winner of this title in 2004 and Ch Dvojica Voodoo JW a 3 year old black bitch, winner of the title in 2005. Two very different Dalmatians. The dog, bigger than the bitch, is quiet and calm, moving on a loose lead he holds to a steady pace at all times. The Bitch, effervescent, tail wagging, eyes sparkling, showing all the time. She moves around the ring at a slightly faster pace but never takes her eyes off her handler.

Here a judge’s dilemma, two top specimens of the breed and only one can take home the title. The moment has arrived; the judges sit back, their decision made.

The MC checks and double checks the placing before announcing declaring The Dalmatian of the Year 2006 is known at home as..... RICHIE! The rest of his announcement is lost in a storm of clapping and shouting of congratulations. Each of these dogs is well known throughout the club by their pet name, no more was needed to identify the winning finalist.

For the second time in three years the NoEDC Dalmatian of the Year is:- Ch. & Ir. Ch. Tollwood Lionel at Kilndandy JW bred by Mr Tony Shuttlewood, sired by Ch. Ir. Ch. & International Truthful Tango at Kilndandy x Tollwood Eugenie. Richie is proudly owned by John & Cathie McCarthy from Buckinghamshire.

The match finished, the room was cleared and prepared for the evening celebration, which completes the event. More than 150 members attended the Black Tie dinner and dance which continued, with live music and entertainment until after 1 am.

Many continued celebrating in the bar until 4 am. The committee were already working on next year’s running of DOTY!

Every year the specials gets better and more brilliant, any breed who does not run an ‘of the Year contest’ should visit this event. It is quite simply the best show of the year and winning an invitation to compete in it has become the most important success of all the Dalmatian exhibitors.