A woman from Skeld returned to Shetland from the UK’s top dog show laden with five rosettes after a successful showing from her two German wirehaired pointers.
Fiona Johnson took male Gunnar and bitch Ylva to Crufts this month to compete against some of the finest canines the UK has to offer.
Both earned red rosettes after winning the postgraduate class for their breed. Gunnar came third and Ylva fourth in the gamekeeper’s class and Ylva came fifth out of 30 among working gun dogs.
“When I was called out first, one of them said ‘you don’t look very happy’ – it wasn’t that I wasn’t happy, it was just I was so stunned and surprised that I wasn’t quite sure if I had won,” Fiona said.
Three-year-old Gunnar belongs to her husband David and is his “constant companion”. He is a working dog and goes out wild fowling and shooting on the West Side with his owner.
The breeder they got two-year-old Ylva from has judged at Crufts, and told Fiona she expected the animal would perform very well at shows.
That persuaded her to enter Ylva for the Scottish Kennel Club at Ingleston last year, where she finished third.
“I was dreadfully disappointed [and] folk couldn’t understand why,” she said. But finishing third did secure qualification for Crufts.
She took Ylva to Birmingham last year but the trip was an “absolute disaster”. Just five minutes before going into the ring she developed a problem with her tail.
“It was hanging down and she couldn’t move it – it was very traumatic for her, and what a long way to go to be disappointed.”
Thankfully, this year’s trip to the NEC had a much happier ending.
Fiona, who works as a safety manager for the council, said Ylva and Gunnar both performed beautifully.
She was particularly proud with Ylva’s fifth place in the working gun dogs section as she was up against full champions.
“I was absolutely delighted, it really made for a great journey,” Fiona said.
Having won their classes this year, Gunnar and Ylva have both automatically qualified for the 2014 Crufts. She is also taking them back to Ingleston in May for some more practise.
Fiona wants to hear from other dog owners interested in training their animals so that they too can enter shows.
“The problem is there is nowhere in Shetland to train dogs,” she said. “If there’s anybody else interested in doing it, I’ll happily do the classes. But we need folk and we need to get together somewhere and do it.
“I certainly know a couple of folk that have taken their dog south and entered them in shows. Both of those owners have said the dogs needed more experience in the ring, and that’s what we just don’t have here.”
Anyone interested should email Fiona at firstname.lastname@example.org