SHELTIES featured on the front page of DOG WORLD for the second week in a row this week, but this time for the most positive of reasons.

In a remarkable double, the Shetland Sheepdog Ch Edglonian Singin The Blues not only took the breed’s challenge certificate record at Three Counties but went on to win his first best in show award.

Shetland Sheepdog Ch Edglonian Singin The Blues (photo by Alan V. Walker)

Debbie Pearson’s homebred blue merle won his 36th CC, all from different judges, under Mylee Thomas, and went on to take his seventh group win, judge Jeff Luscott, and BIS from Mark Cocozza, judging the top award for the first time.

Now six years old, ‘Sid’ is by Ch Milesend Nightforce ex Ch Edglonian Kiss ‘n’ Tell, herself a group winner, and was the only surviving puppy in the litter. Both parents descend from the bitch Ch Edlonian Rather Dashing who later went to Scandinavia.

After a puppy career unbeaten in his classes, he won his first CC at Midland Counties 2009 under Derek Smith, going on to win the group under Marion Spavin, his second a few weeks later at Working and Pastoral Breeds of Scotland under Eddie Cushley, along with a group 2, and his third from Peter Bailey at Manchester 2010.

Further group wins came at City of Birmingham (Sigurd Wilberg), Darlington (Ferelith Somerfield) and South Wales (David Cavill) in 2011, and Bournemouth (Sue Garner) and Driffield (Gordon Rual) in 2013.

As well as his seven group wins, he has five group 2, four group 3 and two group 4. He was BOB at Crufts 2012 and 2013, going on to group 2 in 2012, and won the CC there this year.

The Edglonian kennel was founded 40 years ago by Debbie’s late father Roy. She was ‘born into a house with Shelties’ and when she was five years old they obtained their foundation bitch from the Riverhill kennel.

Edglonian has produced 19 UK titleholders including champions of both sexes in all three main colours. Gradually Debbie came to handle the dogs and after her father’s death she was determined to continue: “I felt I had to prove that I could succeed by myself,” she says. She also pays tribute to Derek Smith for his advice and mentorship.

Sid is the fourth Shetland Sheepdog to take the top award at a UK general championship show, three of them being merles. The first, and the only other male, was the sable dog Ch Sandpiper of Sharval, Sid’s great-great-great-grandsire in the male line, followed by the bitches Ch Myriehewe Rosa Bleu, who was Top Dog all breeds and held the CC record until last Thursday, and Ch Francehill Icemaiden.

And it emerged this week that a second overseas judge caused consternation at Southern Co champinship show. The Shih Tzu judge was the subject of critical comments and those were lodged with show secretary Angela Cavill. The judge was Pieter Burema from the Netherlands and he was accused of not judging to the British Standard – as was Shetland Sheepdog judge Kari Jarvinen from Finland who gave the BCC to an American import.

Sheila Atter provides one of her usual well crafted columns this week, in which she discusses what makes people want to go to shows. Under the chairmanship of Keith Young the Kennel Club has set up the Dog Show Promotion Working Party and recently the Canine Alliance made a presentation to the working party which Sheila says contained a lot of commonsense – combining the ideas that many have put forward time and again and a few new ones that are worthy of further examination.

Here is what Sheila tells her readers this week: “One point made throughout the presentation is that in order to make shows vibrant and interesting there must be something that keeps exhibitors on the show ground right until the end of the day.

“Is it too simplistic to suggest that the decline in participation at our major shows can be traced right back to the abolition, apart from Crufts, of the requirement for exhibitors to stay until at least the middle of the afternoon? Someone recently asked me why I enjoy going to European shows so much. There are naturally several different reasons, all of which combine to give a different ambience to the day. Of course one is the choice of judge. European judges are, in general better educated about my breed, which is always an advantage. But the thing that always strikes me is the party atmosphere that can be found among the exhibitors in the afternoon when the serious stuff is over for all but a few. Since everyone usually has to stay until the start of the groups, when breed judging is finished the picnic tables come out, hampers and cool boxes are opened and whole families or groups of friends sit down to a meal together. Then there is time for a leisurely stroll around the trade stands, maybe a glass of beer, and since they are about to start anyway, many feel that they might as well watch the group judging. This, together with the spotlights and music that seem obligatory at many FCI shows nowadays, builds up an atmosphere of anticipation and a sense of occasion. Add to this the enormous trophies that are often on offer: yes they may be somewhat tacky when compared to the solid silver that is briefly displayed at our championship shows, then carefully locked away again until next year – but oh, the sense of achievement when the winners proudly wave them in the air on their lap of honour.

“So I would add something else to the list of items that might encourage people to participate at championship show level and that is more prizes – not just higher value prizes at the top end of the scale, but something for those whose ambition is simply to win a class. It’s a strange phenomenon of the British show scene that the higher the level of the show, the less reward exhibitors get for their achievements. Many championship shows nowadays have pared down their rosette allocation so much that if we are lucky they go to BOB, BOS and BP – compare that with the Eurodog Show in Kortrijk where every exhibitor goes home with a cup or a rosette as a memento, unless their dog is disqualified. True if the dog only merits a low grade the cup is a very small one, but the higher up you go the bigger the cup becomes. Again, these aren’t available until later in the afternoon, so there is a sense of anticipation as the queue by the trophy tables starts to grow, and everyone leaves with a smile on their face and a cup balanced precariously on top of their trolley. Here in the UK if you want to find a similar level of prize allocation you probably need to visit your local companion show. Again, people go for a good day out. They don’t show their dog and then disappear, but take part in other things, and proudly collect their prizes, whether it is a sack of dog food or a packet of chews. It’s a prize – their dog has won something.

“I have several friends that are in numerically strong breeds. They have nice dogs that are frequently in the cards, and very occasionally a top award comes their way. I admire them all. I know that I couldn’t go to shows week after week knowing that the highlight of my day would probably be to make the cut in a large class. These are the people that are propping up the championship shows and they are getting absolutely nothing back. Is it surprising that an ever-increasing number are looking at the amount of money that they are spending and wondering whether there might be something else that they could do with it instead?

“I’m not suggesting that we should dumb down the competition, even if prizes for all might give that impression. On the contrary, conformation showing is a competitive sport and having something to aim for – and someone to beat – is the basis of our hobby. However, if we consider another of the CA’s suggestions, that of grading every dog, we immediately begin to see that rewards can be given, and the greater the achievement the greater the prize, instead of the present scenario where the elite few seem to be handsomely rewarded whilst the rest get nothing.

“The idea that the KC should run other shows apart from Crufts is something I have never seen mentioned before, but what a good idea it is. We all recognise that the KC is actually very good at running events. That is in direct contrast to many societies, certainly at open show level, where it is a constant battle to find people to fill committee positions, and those that do so are increasingly elderly. KC shows could utilise the enthusiasm and skills of YKC members, giving them worthwhile roles and helping to hone their organisational and people skills, valuable lessons for life and a worthwhile addition to their CVs at the same time – and the shows could even make money for the KC.

“If it is reactionary to propose that exhibitors should have to stay for the best part of the day, it is perhaps even more controversial to suggest that the problem is simply that we have too many shows. We do pride ourselves on the size of our major championship shows, which are undoubtedly bigger than those of, I think, every other country, with the exception of one-off events such as the World shows. But does biggest necessarily equate to best? One of the results of a grading system is that an exhibitor whose dogs are regularly given a low grade might eventually come to realise that maybe they are not really of show quality and either find some other means of enjoying time with their dog – or simply go out and get a better one. If shows are just a means to provide dog owners with a pleasant day out among like-minded folk, then that is probably a shame. However if we are to think of our championship events as somewhere to showcase the best of our breeding, as well as the handling and presentation skills that are necessary to achieve the highest success, then does it actually matter if there is a fall in numbers? Surely 20 top class examples of a breed gives a better level of competition than an entry of two hundred, where 190 are really not in contention for top honours?”

As ever a thought provking piece and it will be interesting in the coming days to find out what our readers have to say about it.