Oh What a Feeling
"A Dream Come True" - Carol Wright
Preparation for a Royal always starts many weeks before hand, making sure the dog's coat is well groomed, exercise boosted a little to harden them up and wrap them up in cotton wool so they don't injure themselves.
Entries close a couple of months prior to the show, so you have plenty of time to make plans. My friend Jeanene Short and I booked our airfares and managed to get cheap tickets ($169), booked a hire car and then waited till the due date.
Dogs bathed, cases packed, crates ready, off to the airport we went. The flight arrived in Sydney on time. The dogs travelled quite well, I went to pick up a hire car and Budget told me they didn't have a station wagon available as ordered, they could only give me sedan. What a laugh. Two people, three dogs (2 males), three crates and luggage in a sedan. Impossible. They eventually found a Tarago van for us and off we went to Northbridge to stay with Eileen Huxtable.
Up the next day bright and early and off to the show. It was a beautiful day and the dogs were feeling good. We were the first breed on so it was a bit hectic getting organised. Eighty-two entries was going to take some time to judge but Mr Hubenthal (Sweden) moved along and didn't waste much time. My first dog was Echo (Ch. Grauhund New Man in Town (AI)) who was in Intermediate Dog class and finished up with a second. I was pleased with that because I always feel at a Royal, if you can manage a place you are doing well, the classes are big. In I went to the Open Dog and out of a large class of 15 dogs, he won. I was delighted. The challenge line came in and my dog Rudi (Ch. Grauhund Lord oth Rings) was awarded the Challenge. I was very excited.
Then came the bitches, I only had Holly (Ch. Grauhund Nite Moves (AI)) in Intermediate class. This was a good-sized class (11) also and she was awarded the first place. I was delighted. My friend Simon won the Open Bitch class and I thought this is going to be hard. Holly took over the ring in said, "this is mine". Yes, she got the Challenge, then the panic began. I have both challenges, what about handlers? We hadn't anticipated this was going to happen. I took Rudi and Simon took Holly and in we went. Poor Simon had a 20 second handling lesson and Holly wasn't sure either. Holly went Best of Breed and Rudi went Runner-up Best of Breed. This was a great thrill as Holly was only just two years old, just starting to reach maturity.
This of course meant that we had to come back to Sydney again the following week. Back to the airport Sunday night after a day at the Wei Specialty where Holly went Reserve CC and Intermediate in Show, and her brother Echo also Reserve CC and Aust. Bred in Show.
I was cursing having to go back, as it was Easter and the cheap airfares had finished, it was going to cost $300 to return. I booked my ticket with Australian Airlines ($289) on the Monday night but wasn't happy with the return times, so I thought I would try Ansett the next morning, I managed to get the times I wanted and asked "how much?" The lady said $149; I said "is that one-way?". She told me they had introduced the cheap fears that morning to use up the excess seats for Easter. Luck was in my favour.
The following weekend approached. On Friday morning I noticed Holly limping. Yes, you guessed it; she had sliced a piece of skin off her pad. Panic stations. It was Good Friday and I paged my Vet and he told me what to do. We went to Sydney on the Saturday night and I continued to treat the foot, it was drying nicely. We had a restful day Sunday and then it was off to the show on Monday. The foot was fine. Group 3 was the third group to be judged and of course everyone was on tenterhooks for the day of Specials. It was a hot day and everyone in Sydney went to the show, there were thousands and I think they were all in the dog pavilion. Even though it was hot, the rings were quite shady with big trees.
The time came for Group 3 Specials, we had a different judge; Carla Molinari from Portugal and I felt this was a bit of a disadvantage as she hadn't judged the breed. She judged all the dogs and Holly performed in the usual "look at me" attitude. She did not shortlist any of the dogs so it was quite suspenseful. I was very worried about the Setters, as it is very hard to get past the hairy dogs at the show at the best of times.
Came time for her winner to be announced and she has chosen Holly. I was ecstatic. I thought what an achievement for one so young. My next interest was to see who the other group winners were. Photos were taken etc, etc, and the wait for General Specials began.
Came time for General Specials. The officials brought in the seven group winners one by one. The Griffin, Staffy, Wei, Whippet, Collie, Boxer and Bulldog. All were judged again, then the judge Carla Molinari selected her winner. In true Sydney style it was not announced. She then judged the runner-up's in each group and made her selection, which was once again kept secret. Then came the puppies and the Australian breeds in show and all this time we were kept standing at the back of the ring. After all that, the President of the R.A.S. made a speech then they brought all winners back in line and proceeded to announce them starting backwards leaving the Best in Show till last. The boxer worried me, as she was beautiful, they announced her Runner-up in Show. The tension mounted. Then came the big moment - "and Best in Show has been awarded to the Weimaraner". I couldn't believe it. Twenty years I have waited to win a Best in Show with the dog I have bred and handled and it had to be at a Royal! Photo after photo, presentations, TV cameras, ABC radio - it all happened. Then on display in the centre of the dog pavilion for the rest of the day sipping champagne.
What a great win for the breed. The general comments were that it was wonderful that it was a short coated dog that had won, as it was nearly always hairy dogs. With a Weimaraner - "what you see is what you get".
This is a day I will relive many times over.