How did you get into showing dogs?
I grew up with my parents’ Weimaraner. When my husband Andy and I bought our first Weimaraner we often thought how lovely he was and wished that we had shown him. I did a lot of research into bloodlines when we were looking for our next puppy, which led us to Lancashire in our quest for our next dog. One of my clients at the hair salon where I work knew of local ringcraft training at Cucklington and we decided to go for it.
How did Amelia get into handling dogs at dog shows?
Amelia came along to ringcraft with me at the age of five. She just had a go for fun, but she proved that she was a natural and as soon as she was six she attended her first show in her first junior handling class. (Children aren’t allowed to compete at Kennel Club affiliated shows until the age of six.) Amelia has qualified every year since for the Junior Handling Association semi finals, this year coming fourth.
How many shows do you attend per year?
Most weekends we travel somewhere in the country to a show and think nothing of going from our home in Brewham to Yorkshire for the day. There are plenty of open shows, which are smaller, but the championship shows are the ones where you can qualify for Crufts. These are usually held over several days, with a different day for each dog group. We always enter the gundog group.
Which dogs has she shown over the years?
Amelia has shown a beagle, papillion, Staffordshire bull terriers, a Bracco Italiano and Weimaraner.
Tell us about Renata, Amelia’s Crufts dog
In the Young Kennel Club Junior Handling finals at Crufts, Amelia will be paired with Renata, a Weimaraner. They are a great team and Renata has a tail that never stops wagging. Renata belongs to our Friend Jean Powell, who also owns Sienna, a Bracco Italiano who Amelia will also handle at Crufts, but in the Young Handler 6-14 class. This class takes place within the Gamekeeper classes, and is only for dogs who work on a shoot. We can’t show our own dogs at Crufts even though they have both qualified. This is because of the docking laws which ban any dog docked after 2006 from entering Crufts.
What makes Renata a particularly good dog for the young handler classes?
Renata loves showing and so is the ideal partner for Amelia. The pair have been together since Amelia was six and they have built up a great rapport.
Tell us about Amelia’s debut at Crufts last year
Amelia showed Renata in the Gamekeepers Young Handler Class age 6-14. She was one of the youngest as she was only eight at the time. She won the class and was subsequently interviewed and photographed by the BASC magazine. When all the classes had finished there was a presentation to all the winners and Amelia received a cup.
How did she qualify this year.
To qualify for the YKC Handling Finals, she had to secure a first placing at a championship show in the YKC class. She did this with a Bracco Italiano at the Bournemouth Championship Show last August.
What will she have to do at Crufts this year?
As Amelia enters the ring, the commentator will talk about her and her dog. She will then be asked to do different patterns, to show that she can move the dog well, and demonstrate good presentation at all times. She must never break the golden rule which is to not get between the dog and the judge — which is easier said than done as they may move to catch the young handlers out. Amelia will be expected to have a good knowledge of showing, points of the dog, etc, and she can be asked a wide variety of questions, such as how many teeth does a dog have.
What will the judges be looking for?
They will be looking for smart but sympathetic handling, straight lines in her patterns, politeness at all times and an awareness of where the judges are. The young handlers have to make sure that their dog is presented to its best advantage at all times.
How hopeful are you that she will win?
If Amelia concentrates at all times then she has a good chance of winning. She knows that herself, but understands that on the day it may not happen. When she first started, it took a long time to get her first first-place rosette, but that was a good thing as she now understands that she can’t always win although she will always try her hardest.
Are you thinking of getting more dogs for showing?
We had a litter of puppies last summer and are hoping to have another litter next year. Hopefully we will keep a puppy from that litter who we will show.
Tell us about Amelia’s charity fund-raising
Amelia ran a raffle at the Gillingham & Shaftesbury Show last year in aid of the charity The Humanimal Trust. She is looking forward to presenting the funds to TV’s Supervet Noel Fitzpatrick, who founded the trust.