Crufts - A border Collie's story

Today Crufts is now the world famous dog show by which the dog world and dog shows set their standards by. It was started in 1886 by its founder Charles Cruft, a manager at a dog biscuit manufacturer. Travelling in the UK and internationally with work he was able to network with people at other dog shows, establishing that there was a gap in the market for a high end dog show.

The very first show, in 1891 had 57 classes and was called the 'First Great Terrier Show', and was held at the Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington. All dog breeds were allowed to compete.

There were approximately 2,000 dogs with nearly 2,500 entries.

Fast forward to 2019 and this has risen to over 22,000 entries

Crufts like most dog shows of its ilk, is governed by the Kennel Club of the United Kingdom and is the oldest kennel club on the planet. It was founded in 1873. It governs canine activities such as dog shows, dog agility and working trials.

It also governs dog obedience, which has for a long time, been a popular event at dog shows around the world, including Crufts.

Imagine competing at Crufts with your best friend in an obedience class! Well, that's exactly what Sara Louise Killelay did with her faithful red merle border collie, Parsnip, in the The Kennel Club Good Citizen Special Obedience Stakes this year. As dog names go, Parsnip is a pretty cool name!

Parsnip, AKA 'Pitter Patter Parsnip' has just turned 2 years of age and Sara has had him since he was a puppy. Sara also competes with her other dogs in agility shows around the UK and has had some great successes, mainly due to the hard work she puts in with obedience training and agility training. Sara uses a dog clicker and treat in the initial stages of teaching something, then moves on to a verbal reward once the exercise or dog trick is solid. Marmite, her other dog has been winning agility classes recently after a resurgence in her ability (see earlier blog post here).

Winston and Porter now sponsor Parsnip and did so for his appearance at Crufts.

As Parsnip is the star of this blog post then I will leave it up to him to tell the story of his trip to Crufts with his owner Sara. You can also see how he got on in the video of him performing his dog tricks on this blog.

A view through the eyes of Parsnip.

I knew something was going on when we all went to bed super early on the Friday night. I had seen my mum packing our bags and saying we’re going on a big adventure tomorrow. I laid down and shut my eyes to go to sleep, but before I knew it, I was being woken up again. It was only half past 4 and I remember thinking mummy must have misread her clock!

Alas, it was no mistake!!! Mummy went through our usual morning routines, before putting on my smart collar and bundling me up in the car. We were off! I slept most of the way there, so I didn’t really mind the long journey. Once mummy had parked the car, out I jumped, to be greeted by lots of other doggies all in their smart collars too.

We wandered off with all our bags, I was super excited to see where we were, so mummy had to walk a little faster than I think she had planned. We were greeted at the doors by a very friendly security guard who kindly let us enter the building. I stopped for a second and suddenly realised…. It’s the famous green carpet mummy had kept going on about!!!

Before I was allowed to put my paws on the green carpet, mummy had to go and sign us in, meaning I had to go and sit on the benches in my crate. I was a little upset with mummy at first for this, so I told her in my own barks that I hadn’t been a naughty boy, so why was she making me sit on the naughty bench?

After a couple of minutes, I realised I had made a school dog error and in fact this was not a naughty bench, but a bench for the Special Good citizen, obedience dogs! Me obedient? Ok… don’t laugh, I like to make mummy proud!

Before I knew it, I was being whisked away by mummy towards THE GREEN CARPET!!!

Mummy told me she had just had her briefing with the nice judge lady and she was ready and excited to go. I needed to be on my best behaviour so I didn’t let her down. The lovely steward guy ushered all the other doggies, including myself into some sort of order, I can’t count though, so I didn’t know if we were in the right place or not.

Mummy told me I was a good boy, so the steward guy must have got us in the right place.

A very, very loud tannoy started speaking and all of a sudden, I heard a lot of shouting from the other side of the hall…… “the flyball has started, that’s all we want” said mummy in a concerned voice. “I hope I can hear the steward” she exclaimed. I jumped up and gave mummy a biiiiiiig hug to let her know I had her back and we got this!

And we’re off, my paws finally made contact with the green carpet! It was awesome; however, I was a little unsure about all the people staring at me and clapping as the tannoy lady said my name. I jumped forward and looked up at mummy for reassurance. “It’s ok Parsnip, lets have some fun, this is only the introduction parade” mummy said. Suddenly I was heeling, spinning about and doing a few tricks in the ring. I loved it and felt like a celebrity!

And then it was all over….. or so I thought!

Mummy made a big fuss of me and we had some cuddles again, before I was put back on the good boy bench. I kept hearing the others dogs’ names called by the loud tannoy lady and wondered if my name would be called again. The nice steward guy came over and called us back to the ring. “What’s going on mum, I thought the green carpet was already done?”

We were ushered into a little holding area where mummy did a few tricks with me and had a little pep talk “Now then Parsnip, we got this! Let’s go have some fun and whatever happens, I get to take the best dog home”. And we were on, apparently the first time was only an introduction, and this was the big boy stuff. I heard the nice tannoy lady announcing our name and telling all the people what breed I was. The steward lady came over to mummy and told her she had to have a play game with me.

Mummy unclipped my lead and we were off! What a game we had, there was spinning and leg weaving and tugging and it was sooooooooo much fun I actually forgot we were being watched. But the lady steward came over and took the toy off mummy. What a spoilt sport, but ok mummy is calling me to heel. Initiate Obedient Parsnip!

I had to do a very long round of heelwork with 8 turns and a halt. This was longer than any other class I had ever been in before, but mummy said I nailed it. Next up, we had to do our recall. I was set up, as close to mummy’s side as I could be. She left me and the second I was called, blink and you missed me! Into mummy’s front like a bullet and round back to heel the second she asked.

This wasn’t it though, we then had to do our control exercise. Mummy set me up in front of a gate, and told me to wait whilst she walked through it. I so desperately wanted to join her, but I was a very good boy and waited until I was called. Vroom! Back to mummy’s side like a bullet again, the second she called me. She closed the gate and walked off with me, back to the nice steward lady.

Finally, mummy asked me to stand still whilst she examined every part of my little body.

She kept telling the examiner what she was doing and why, whilst I just stood there like a statue. The judge thanked mummy for our round and we left the arena. Well, I don’t think mummy has ever hugged me so tight in my life before! I think I must have done it good.

After a little while on the good boy bench, mummy took me back towards the green carpet, where the nice steward guy again put us all in order. We all entered the ring and stood in a long line, whilst the judge gave out our rosettes! We had come 8th!!! Mummy was so proud of me and I don’t think she could believe we were in the top 10.

After being given a goody bag, we all left the arena and mummy took me for a little walk, where she spoilt me rotten with lots of goodies! Has Christmas come early I thought? After a little while we headed back to the good boy bench, where we just sat and chilled out for a bit until it was time to go home.

What a day I had! I would love to go back again with mummy, it was such an amazing experience and I couldn’t believe all the fusses I had from lots of different people. Mummy said if I had been given a biscuit for every time someone asked to take a photo of me, I would have exploded! Now it’s time to sleep and catch up with all my dreams!

Lot’s of love,


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