Tails from front line

Townsville Bulletin - - Your Money -

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

and

she’s

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?

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