Ca­nine Ca­pers

Dorset - - LIFE’S FOR LIVING -

‘The power of my fin­ger point­ing at some­one to come into the cen­tre of the ring was mag­nif­i­cent’

Tiggy and The Pi­rate en­joy a fun-filled af­ter­noon

judg­ing at the Tar­rant Gunville Dog Show

For 30 years I pro­duced TV com­mer­cials, and dur­ing that time there was re­ally only one brand that I want to work on – Wi­nalot. I would dream of be­ing on lo­ca­tion in the York­shire Dales with 50 pedi­gree dogs all run­ning for their lives up hill and down dale. Sadly, it never hap­pened.

So, my de­light when the sec­re­tary of the Tar­rant Gunville Horse and Dog show asked The Pi­rate and me to judge the ca­nine sec­tion was un­par­al­leled. I was be­side my­self.

This an­nual show, held on the mid­dle Satur­day of ev­ery Au­gust, is one of a kind. Set in a cor­ner of park­land in this lovely vil­lage, it al­ways has a charm that takes you out of the 21st cen­tury and back to a time of in­no­cence, good man­ners and green can­vas tents. The Fa­mous Five would have fit­ted right in.

It is the only show I know of that has taken place in north Dorset this year. The com­mit­tee in their Bri­tish stiff-up­per lip way, de­cided they should do some­thing, al­beit on a much smaller scale than usual. In­stead of show jump­ing, the horse sec­tion be­came a planned non­com­pet­i­tive cross-coun­try ride. This meant that the ‘ring’ be­came the do­main of the dog show.

With a £1 en­try fee per cat­e­gory, the temp­ta­tion was for own­ers to en­ter their hounds for as many rounds as pos­si­ble. And they did. There was a cat­e­gory for ev­ery dog: most hand­some dog, pret­ti­est bitch, most re­gal, scruffi­est, best six legs (the ex­tra two legs be­ing those of the owner), wag­gi­est tail, best old dog, best ter­rier, dog most like its owner and fi­nally, the dog the judges would most like to take home. It was a minia­ture wire­haired dachs­hund.

Add to these classes the cheek­i­ness of the two young men com­men­tat­ing, Si­las and James, there was plenty of ir­rev­er­ence at hand. In best six legs, one woman rolled up her trousers to the tops of her thighs (she and her mutt got third for courage); Bert, a curly-headed work­ing cocker, was elim­i­nated from most re­gal dog for hav­ing a poo in the ring; and Monty, who had wild­flow­ers stick­ing out of his furry head, proudly took scruffi­est dog.

The power of my fin­ger point­ing at some­one to come into the cen­tre of the ring was mag­nif­i­cent. But not as great as the joy they felt at be­ing se­lected. The grat­i­tude as we handed out the three rosettes per cat­e­gory was heart-warm­ing. You can­not be­lieve how com­pet­i­tive adults can be for their best friends.

The cul­mi­na­tion of the show was an out-of-con­trol race across the field. The Pi­rate called for a re-run af­ter the chaotic undis­ci­plined first at­tempt. The whip­pet won.

Suf­fice to say that judges, com­men­ta­tors and com­peti­tors would all be thrown out of Crufts. But I can hon­estly say that we would all have pre­ferred to be at Tar­rant Gunville, for the sheer joy and hi­lar­ity of the oc­ca­sion.

Tiggy gets an en­thu­si­as­tic re­sponse in the show ring

This gor­geous dog came sec­ond in Dog Judges Most Wanted To Take Home

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