Louise Minchin on judging a dog competition
PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 October 2018
The Chester-based BBC TV presenter was charmed by pups and hounds of all shapes and sizes at a very jolly event in Holt
I know we are a nation obsessed with our pets, and I love my dogs dearly, but when I was asked by a friend to judge the novelty dog classes at an event for Nightingale House Hospice, I never imagined that 300 people would turn up in a field to proudly parade their pooches. By the time I arrived, the serious classes, judged according to Kennel Club Rules had finished, but I still managed to have a quick cuddle with one of the winners, a magnificent fluffy Chow. I thought judging would be easy, because in the first class, Best Puppy, there were only five names entered and we had four prizes. But as dozens of puppies bouncing on over-sized paws tumbled into the ring it was clear, there were in fact about 30 registered. The pressure was on: I was surrounded by their ‘families’ sitting in the sunshine on straw bales, willing them to win. How on earth would I choose between them?
Being a novice judge, thankfully, I was joined by a trainee vet, Claire Stephens, who had judged the show before. Her advice was to watch closely as they parade, have a chat with their owners, see what the dogs themselves were like and then go with gut feeling. Together we navigated our way through the classes including the Waggiest Tail, Most Handsome Dog and the amusing, Dog Most Like Their Owner, in which two women arrived dressed just like their huskies, with furry hats, and tails.
My favourite class was Best Rescue. I loved hearing their stories, from the Greyhounds who had been injured racing, to a tiny Chihuahua cross who had been found wandering the streets of Liverpool. Her adopted family had brought photos of her when she was rescued, and I would never have guessed the fearful, emaciated dog with matted hair, was the same one at the show, with sparkly eyes and a pristine white coat. The rescue dogs could not have been a better advert for re-homing. I fell in love with a Springer Spaniel, Jack, who had deep brown doleful eyes and now works as a therapy dog. It was a wonderful afternoon of pet celebration and I’m hoping to be invited back next year to see my four-legged friends again.