Going With The Flo … 2013 World Dog Show
by Lisa Croft-Elliot and Carrie Russell-Smith
From our house to the exhibition center in Budapest is 1,200 miles across the English Channel, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Austria and into Hungary – a long way to go but a World Show is not to be missed!
We made the decision to enter just three youngsters of three different breeds and ‘park’ the rest of our four-legged family with friends for the duration – except Flo, naturally as road trips would be hollow without her.
The young man who accompanied us to the World Show in Salzburg last year, Dom Santiorello, was cajoled to be our ‘slave’ again and we arranged to pick him and some hitchhiking dogs up at the Birmingham National Dog Show on Sunday and head straight for Budapest.
Our small show crew consisted of Darren the Cardigan, Griffin the Manchester Terrier and Eletta the Toy Manchester – all American imports to the UK and all under 2 years old.
The extra ‘passengers’ were a Toy Poodle, a Mini Wire Dachshund and a 12-week-old German Pinscher. Paperwork and various feeding instructions were given, dogs loaded and off we went.
The first slight detour was to home – we hadn’t brought all of our dogs’ pedigrees, essential to have in the vain hope they won anything major and we wished to receive Hungarian KC award certificates on the spot at the Show. We hoped this inclusion was not the kiss of death or arrogance and were glad in some ways as we were able to put right a few things at the house such as turning off the hot water, picking up evening wear for the “gala at the Castle” and set off just three hours behind schedule – which is quite good for us!
Fueled by a fabulous salmon and goat cheese quiche kindly made for us by Jay Horgan, the breeder of the German Pinscher pup, we didn’t need to stop for dinner.
Folkestone was our first destination in order to catch the Euro Tunnel train – there was roadwork, heavy rain, traffic jams and the passenger dogs taking in turn to howl. We missed the 12:22 am train by minutes as Lisa had inadvertently booked the crossings in reverse order – France to England and then England to France. Once this was remedied at the ticket office, we waited for the 1:22 am train. We tried to nap but the dog howling was like Japanese water torture so we all got more tired along with headaches. We walked the dachshund and pinscher in turns to establish who was the noisemaker and – guess what? – they took it in turns. The visiting poodle mewed like a cat and was enraged that she was crated, albeit the crate was on the sofa, not in the back of the camper. Ours were perfect, of course, but they are accustomed to road trips and seem to love them. Flo looked really put out – she rolled her eyes or sighed heavily every time a passenger dog made more noise.
We went to board the train but a mistake had been made by them regarding the number of dogs so it was a rush back to the ticket office, where we paid another $90, and back to catch the train. By this time no more high sided vehicles were allowed through, so back we went to the car park to wait for the 2:22am. It was frustrating as we could have been half way across Belgium by then. Carrie put headphones on and managed to block out the howling for some sleep while Dom and Lisa sat up front, parked in the train, which was then motionless for over an extra hour due to being stuck behind the train in front that had broken down in the tunnel.
It was almost dawn by the time we got to France, so after filling up with way-cheaper-than-UK-priced fuel, we drove in turn all day and most of Monday night across Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and into Austria, while Dom looked after the dogs on regular ex-stops. We had a ‘night tour’ of Vienna and found a parking spot on a main street with a view to morning exploration. After a few minutes of debate, we thought it might not be so dog friendly and drove to a super camp site on the outskirts of the city. The dogs had quieted down and the prospect of 2 hours of sleep seemed like a luxury.
We woke at 6 am, exed dogs, topped up with water and wandered over to the super shower blocks. Mid-shower, we shouted across cubicles and realized we had both forgotten to bring towels. Note for future reference – getting wet feet into Uggs is not easy.
We walked to the metro and were in the center of Vienna within minutes, marveling at the gothic and romanesque architecture of St. Stephens Cathedral and then a horse-and-carriage ride through cobbled streets to have a mutual ‘bucket-list experience’; a visit to the Spanish Riding School.
The school has been in existence for well over 400 years; the hall is light and airy with a great viewing balcony. Training sessions for classic dressage performances take place each morning between 10 and 12 and we were totally transfixed watching the Lipizzaner horses and their accomplished riders. It is quite an emotional stir to witness something longed for over the years, something so highly skilled and beautiful. After we dragged ourselves away, only finding a Starbucks could make us feel more ‘normal’, which is what we did before going back to the camper and setting off on the last part of the outward journey.
We had been to Budapest previously, to the European Winners Show in 2008, and it had been chaos. We hoped the Hungarian Kennel Club and Show Organizers had learned from the last big show and that this would be better planned and executed.
On arrival at the Expo, we were sent from one gate to another for about 20 minutes. There seemed to be no specific parking for Trade campers. We ended up near the campsite for exhibitors where we were met by further total confusion. We were asked to wait for 5 minutes while verification was made that we were expected and a place allocated near the buildings. We watched other traders drive around in circles, have arguments nearing violence with officious security staff, and our 5 minute wait turned into nearly 2 hours. It was irritating and frustrating; we watched and waited. Some traders had parked up on one side of a gated fence and were told they had to walk the entire perimeter of the showground to get back to their vehicle that was just yards from the gate. Fences were climbed in defiance, voices were raised. It was entertaining and appalling and passed the time a little. Our fears the show would be massively disorganized seemed evident from the onset, we stayed calm and upbeat convinced apologies would come soon and the situation rectified.
Eukanuba was the major show sponsor, we were working for Eukanuba, and the office in Geneva had confirmed our attendance and verified payment for parking. Phone calls, different staff and contradictory explanations came and went. Eventually we were told to ‘follow that car’ across the showground. We waited in a building for a good while longer while the camper sat in the searing heat, charged $516 and told to park at the exhibitors camp site on the far side of the showground from the buildings right where we had been held for so long.
At this point we gave up, went to the Hotel Expo at the show entrance to check in as we had a room booked, but apparently no parking was available and Lisa worked some magic. A nice man arranged for us to park in the Staff car park (with electric hook-up) so we had just burned all that time and money for nothing. Problem solved, camper, dogs, restaurant, and room all in one place near the buildings. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant where familiar faces from around the planet kept popping up. The service was slow, the main course okay but we were refused dessert and coffee as it was past 9 pm! Others were then served coffee but when queried the staff simply didn’t care.
The room was clean so we quickly realized that the lousy service was a small price to pay for the prime parking spot we had. Mental note made: remember to order dessert and coffee in advance along with the appetizer and entrée!
The first day of the show was the Budapest International CACIB Show – all three of our dogs were entered. After the experiences of 4 years ago we hoped it would all be better and it was. No long queues to get dog passport checked, microchip checked and entry gained this time, just a quick look at passport made by an efficient vet, entry forms checked and we were in. We had printed maps of the halls and rings for each day – the showground is vast but between the three of us, we soon found the relevant halls and rings and picked up the ring numbers. This has to be done first thing in the morning at all big European shows. This was a one-day show for all ten groups with CACIBs on offer as it was an International show. Four CACIBs awarded by 3 different judges across 3 countries over a minimum period of one year and one day enable the title of International Champion (except for breeds which are subjected to working trials such as hunting, rescue or schutzhund , then it is a little different). Puppies and Juniors are not eligible for CACIBs but the Junior winners compete for Best of Breed. Baby Puppies, Puppies and Juniors have their own “group” competitions in addition to the 10 groups for Breed Winners.
During the five days of this show there was the Budapest International, many breed club specialties and the World Show itself.
CACs were on offer in most classes for the class winners, and if two CACs were won by a dog, the title of Hungarian Champion or Hungarian Junior Champion was on offer. Three CACs led to the title of Hungarian Show Champion. The classes scheduled were Baby Puppy, Puppy, Junior, Intermediate, Open, Champion and Veteran. The challenge for Breed consisted of Best Dog, Best Bitch and the Junior of each sex.
The rings were a good size for our medium and small breeds and there was plenty of space to groom, though a few people complained about the rings for large breeds and those with massive entry numbers. Entry fees were in excess of $100 per dog so maybe exhibitors had the right to a few moans and groans. Exhibitors came from many different countries and the total entry for the shows was given as 17,000 dogs.
The main ring was light and spacious with the Eukanuba stand and VIP seating at one end, judges seating to one side and public seating at the other side. The ring was uncluttered and without podiums, which worked well.
During the five days entries were vast in some breeds, such as Cane Corso – 316, Miniature Schnauzers – 400, Great Danes – 253, Dobermans – 250.
It is always fun to see unusual and very rare breeds such as Bucovina Shepherd, Portuguese Cattle dog, Tornjaks, Cimarron Uruguayos, Danish Mastiff, Cao Fila Sao Miguel, and Karst Shepherd all represented in single figures. There were some breeds we do not see in the UK or USA shown here in great numbers such as over 100 Caucasian Ovcharkas (or Shepherd dogs) and South Russian Ovcharkas and nearly 200 Dogo Argentino.
One piece of news on everyone’s lips on the first day was that the new President of the FCI was announced; Rafael de Santiago, from Puerto Rico, a hugely popular choice.
Hospitality at the Eukanuba stand was super with coffee, cold drinks and nibbles available as we darted here and there with no time to stop for lunch. They are such a great team and the live streaming was super to see up on the big screen above the main ring. Knowing friends and family could watch from home was good. The ‘Eukanuba sofa’ was busy for interviews with breeders, handlers and other experts. Watch out for the interview with L C-E and Darren the Cardigan!
The Dachshund and German Pinscher had been united with their new owners, funnily enough, both Russian and both called Valeria! The Dachshund owners were a bit horrified when Carrie gave them the Pinscher pedigree, but this was quickly remedied. The Toy Poodle, who by now had given up her crate for part of the sofa along with Flo and Eletta was staying until the next day.
We were tired after the long trip and the first day of gathering our wits and learning the layout of the showground, so we celebrated our first wins by having comfort food of pasta in the camper and turned in for a relatively early night.
Thursday was the World Show day for Dachshunds (Group 4), Spitz & Primitive (Group 5) and Terriers (Group 3), with an entry of 420 Am Staffs topping the ratings. Toy Manchesters are called English Toy Terriers and are in the FCI Terrier Group. Our kids did well with Griffin being awarded CAC, Junior World Winner and Best Junior and Eletta her second CAC in two days. The weather was glorious, we were glad we had electric fans and ice beds for the dogs on board.
The Terrier Group, judged by András Korózs the President of the Hungarian Kennel Club, was huge fun with two very familiar handlers in the finals vying for the win for Victor Malzoni, Jr. who owns both dogs. Travella Starlord, the Wire Fox triumphed over Hjohoo’s Save Hjour Love For Me, the Cairn and a very elated breeder, Bill Brown-Cole shared some incredibly strong hooch with Carrie to celebrate the win. We were thrilled for Victor, gaining Terrier Group 1 & 2 at the World Show was really something!
Group 4 was judged by Luis Pinto Teixeira. The winner was a Rabbit Smooth Dachshund from Russia, Formula Uspeha Colibri. Rabbit is a size we do not have in the US or UK – it is the smallest of Dachshunds.
The winner of Group 5 was a Samoyed from Denmark, Cabaka’s Pretty Good Ideal, judged by Kari Jarvinen.
We dined with friends in the hotel restaurant and service was even slower, and although we remembered to order the panacotta in advance, there was none left by the time we were ready for it. Luckily, we had sampled some local food at the show at lunchtime – freshly cooked and tasty, the ‘chicken stew’ was more like a mild curry. Paprika is the ‘national’ spice, incorporated in a creamy sauce this was some of the best ‘dog show food’ we had tasted.
On Friday, while various specialties happened in other locations, the World Show Group 2, the biggest in the FCI system, Mastiffs and Pinschers, with 62 varieties took place.
We spent most of the day in one of the halls at Interra, the International Terrier show, total entry of about 650, where Griffin took Best Junior and Breed. We were so proud of him! There were some breeds we were not familiar with such as the Jagd Terrier (pronounced Yack), a German hunting dog which allegedly annihilates everything in its path. Best In Show at the Interra was the Cairn, handled by Gabriel Rangel.
The World Show Group 2 was judged by Ole Staunskjaer and won by a Leonbeger from Russia that we have admired before named Skjaergaardens Valentine Rua Soleil.
The restaurant service at the hotel was even more painful. We ordered the elusive panacotta, Carrie and Dom waited an hour for their entrée, Lisa got a serving of the panacotta but there was none left for Carrie. We vowed to find a nearby alternative the following evening! There was an amazing electric storm and we watched forked and sheet lightning, then the heavens opened.
On the Saturday, Lisa and Dom went to the British Herding and Sheepdog Specialty some 20 miles away from the Expo. This was held at the Castle and was a glorious location. Carrie stayed to attend the press conference, the Eukanuba World Challenge draw for the groups in Orlando in December, and do some candid and group winner photos. There were more visitors on this day, being the weekend, and the trade stands started to get really busy. It was hard for the traders, as they were located in the stuffy halls and most people preferred to be outside in the sun.
Group 6, Scenthounds, was judged by Rui Oliveira and won by a Rhodesian Ridgeback from Russia, Faira Arif Kamilifu. Group 7, Pointers and Setters, was won by Goango Black Booms, a Gordon Setter from Finland, and judged by Hans Van Den Berg. Group 9, Toys, judged by C. V. Sudarsan, was won by a Finnish Lhasa Apso, Chic Choix Cleopatra Eurydice, which ended up Reserve Best in World Show on the final day.
Lisa and Dom returned triumphant and suntanned but Lisa had to get changed quickly and go all the way back to the Castle again to attend the gala dinner. Carrie and Dom took the dogs for long walks in the park just outside the Expo and took themselves for a long walk to a chinese buffet.
Sunday was the last day; the storm had cleared the humidity somewhat though it was another scorcher. The halls were really hot and the ceiling fans were once again inactive. The last three Groups were Group 1, Herding, judged by Rafael de Santiago, won by the Old English Sheepdog from Hungary, Bottom Shaker My Secret, known as ‘Jimmy’; Group 8, Retrievers and Spaniels, won by a Labrador Retriever from Italy, Loch Mor Romeo that was judged by Carla Molinari; and Group 10, Sighthounds, was judged by Kennet Edh who pointed at a stunning Azawakh called Azamour Wahid, also from Italy.
Best in Show, judged by Dr. Tamás Jakkel from the Hungarian Kennel Club, went to the Old English Sheepdog Multi-Ch. Bottom Shaker My Secret, bred by Dr. István Szetmár, owned by József Koroknai and handled by Zsolt Hano. It was a Hungarian triumph for what had been a really good event with very few problems. Another World Show done and Helsinki to look forward to in 2014.
Dom had been a star, towing laden trolleys, getting ring numbers, ‘minding’ the dogs, returning to the camper repeatedly during the day, all without complaint or loss of humor. We took ourselves off to the chinese buffet again and laughed, as it was full of friends we had told about it as an alternative to the dire hotel restaurant! We had a jolly couple of hours and got a fleet of taxis back to the hotel as another amazing storm chose to manifest just as we were leaving. The next day Dom had to fly home to get back to his studies so we loaded up the camper – including the Toy Poodle who was also getting a ride home with us and a Standard Poodle being returned to her owner after a year in Poland – and started the long drive back.
It was a national holiday in Hungary and Austria so the roads were initially quiet and free of those big semi trucks. We were happy that our dogs had all gained their Hungarian Champion titles and it had been great to spend time in a warm climate. We drove and drove stopping only for a short sleep, gorged on cakes in Germany, martinos (a sandwich of crusty bread, fillet American and pickled gherkins) and frites in Belgium and then the camper refused to start after a visit to a shopping center. Lisa figured out what the problem was with text help from our photographer friend, Bert Peeters, but we had to call out a mechanic who simply showed her exactly where to hit the starter motor with a hammer. This worked once or twice but Lisa noticed a loose wire. We took the dogs for a good run on the beach while our laundry was ‘doing’ at a launderette nearby, fiddled with the wire to get started and headed for the Euro Tunnel.
The camper gave up again at the entrance to the tunnel. We held up the line of traffic and tried not to make eye contact with drivers as they pulled out and around us, glaring all the while. More wire fiddling and one very impressed mechanic as he arrived just in time to see Lisa appear from under the engine and the camper start. Lisa successfully repeated this process each time we stopped. Carrie managed not to run over Lisa while revving the engine and we got home safely. Another adventure completed with just 48 hours to spare before setting off to do the round of UK Summer shows.
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