Matthew and Max
In September 2014 I picked up my very first dog Max, who is a Havanese - a breed from Cuba. It had taken a lot of hard work and research, but I had finally managed to get a dog. I was advised to try a dog show training class so I took Max along every week, slowly making some 'dog friends'.
The time came where I entered my first show - a breed show in Birmingham. Max and I did well, coming 2nd place in our puppy class. I was instantly hooked on dog showing! Over the next few months we went to lots more small local dog shows. I had my picture in Our Dogs magazine for doing well at a show. We also went to more dog training classes, so nearly every week night was spent training.
I made a big leap when I entered my first championship show at Leeds. It was a massive show because championship shows are the big important shows. I was nervous. I spent the entire day brushing Max, in preparation for 10 minutes in the ring. He looked fantastic! To my surprise Max won second in our class and this qualified him to go to Crufts. I was ecstatic! I had a page written about me in Your Dog magazine.
The night before Crufts I had to bath Max in lots of different things that some of my 'dog friends' had given me. After an hour of bathing I attempted to blow dry Max but - he isn’t a fan of the hair dryer. I packed the car with his pushchair and cage as well as all of his grooming products and brushes because we needed to set off very early in the morning.
On Thursday 10th March 2016 we woke up extremely early and set off at 6.30am. The journey to Birmingham took slightly longer than expected but it was okay. After parking what seemed like 20 million miles away from the NEC, I put Max in his pushchair and had a very long walk down to the arena. When we got there it was packed inside and everyone was taking it very seriously. I found my bench and set up to get Max ready. Luckily some of my 'dog friends' and family were there to help me get him ready. Now I just had to wait until we were on. I was extremely nervous.
My number was called and I entered the ring. I kept my focus on Max and tried to forget about the massive number of people watching me and taking photos. We were competing against 7 other dogs. The judge made us stand our dogs and then he asked us to run around the ring. Max moved perfectly. We then waited our turn to go onto the table. Max stood on the table while the judge checked him over and then asked us to run in a triangle shape before joining back and waiting. Then he chose his 1st 2nd and 3rd. Max was easily the best dog there but the judge didn’t agree! We had our photos taken and watched the end of the Havanese judging.
The rest of the weekend
Later we went over to the Discover Dogs area. They have every breed on show, each in their own little booth with a big cage that the owners sit in and tell people about their breed. After Max had been fussed all afternoon he wanted to sleep in his pushchair while we looked around the show. There was everything you could think of for your dog at Crufts, from cages and beds to shirts and hoovers. You could even get a model of you and your dog 3D printed! We looked around some other rings at the judging and then we headed down to the main arena (the one that’s on TV) where we watched some flyball. After that we were all shattered and headed home, but we did not leave Crufts until about 9pm.
On Saturday we went down to Crufts again to do Discover Dogs. In the afternoon I watched some friends showing their Polish Lowland Sheepdogs. I was their chief photographer. My friend Lucy won Best of Breed with her dog Hero! She was going to be in the main arena later that night and even on TV. It wasn’t going to start until about 9pm so I stayed with Lucy who kindly offered to take me home so that Mum, Dad, Nathan and Max could leave. Lucy did well in the pastoral group judging but unfortunately the judge didn’t pick her.
I have had a fantastic time at Crufts this year and hopefully we will qualify for next year. In the meantime we will keep going to shows and dog training. Who knows, next year at Crufts we might have two dogs!
Matthew Langley, Year 10