‘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