Tails from front line
POPPY is nervous.
She’s had her hair styled, teeth whitened, nails done and has been on a diet for months.
Now it’s show time anxious to impress.
The p r o b l e m f o r Poppy t he bearded collie dog is she barks incessantly at the sound of applause, which distracts from her potentially winning performance at the world’s largest dog show, Crufts, held in Birmingham in the British Midlands.
In its 120th year, Crufts will attract some 28,000 dogs during its four days of competition up to and including Sunday.
For Poppy, whose facial hair is held back with a pink clip behind her neck, it’s her fourth year at the international event and this time, she’s made it to a senior category.
The grey and white-coated fivey e a r - o l d , whose f ul l name i s Athenburgh New Beginning, sniffs the air elegantly as she is brushed by owner Marilyn Gilbert.
‘‘ Don’t let her fool you – like most d o g s s h e ’ s c o m p l e t e l y f o o d - oriented,’’ says Marilyn, leaning in to give the eldest of her three bearded collies a kiss on the lips.
Poppy, who likes eating, walks and naps on Marilyn’s bed, also has a ‘‘ fetish’’ for Horlicks, which almost brought her exhibition days to an end when she crunched up a china mug trying to get her maltflavoured fix.
‘‘ She can’t get enough Horlicks, it’s her favourite. She sticks her nose in an empty mug to try and get every last taste,’’ Marilyn laughs.
Nearby, Harley the Australian shepherd is wearing a big smile, standing patiently, his tail end wrapped in a green towel to ‘‘ flatten his thick coat’’ before the show.
It’s almost as though six-year-old
Mia showed her prowess throughout the heats, always coming first against other dogs when sent several metres away from her handler to lie down on a pre-prepared bed.
The Heelwork To Music section also proved a crowd favourite as handlers danced with their pranci n g p o o c h e s w h o j u m p e d weightlessly through the air or balanced on their master’s feet for a waltz.
Back at hall one, Horlicks-crazed Poppy has had her turn in the ring. There’s no prize for Poppy.
Maybe 2012 will be her year?