Best in Show at Crufts was awarded to the Scottish Terrier, Intl. Rus. Am. GCh. McVan’s To Russia with Love “Knopa.” She is beautifully presented by U.S. handler Rebecca Cross, was bred in the U.S. by Dr. Vandra Huber and is owned in Russia by Marina Khenkina.
The spectacular black bitch was declared the winner Sunday under renowned terrier specialist Ronnie Irving, multiple generation Border Terrier breeder and past chairman of the Kennel Club.
And then all hell broke loose.
By Monday morning, 38degrees, a UK petition site, had not one but three petitions posted on social media. The most aggressive petition, to “Strip Rebecca Cross of her Best In Show award at Crufts 2015 for her unduly harsh handling of the Scottish Terrier, Knopa,” at last count had 99,359 signatures decrying the handler’s presentation, which includes using the dog’s tail to lift her from the table.
Within hours, Social Media was flooded with photos of messages supporting Rebecca Cross, most written in ink on people’s hands.
In reply to a social media post Rebecca said, “I’ve kept pretty quiet, but just to put everyone’s mind at ease, I was reminded about the tail by the organizer on Sunday. In the moment and my nerves and everything else, I forgot and (operated) out of habit when I took her down. I did make an effort when I placed her on the table, but when I took her down during the Best ring, I simply forgot. I’m only human. I certainly did not do it on purpose and it was not a blatant act. I’ve been showing Scotties my whole life and also have working terriers.”
The Crufts Premium List includes the following advisory:
“Handling of Dogs: Exhibitors are reminded that the Kennel Club believes the practice of picking up dogs, often Terriers, by their tails and leads when lifting them to and from the table during judging is both undesirable and completely unnecessary.”
“I know how much Rebecca loves and cares for the dogs,.” Vandra said. “I met her and her mother when she was 16 and showed a dog at Puyallup, the last time Peggy Sue was shown in my area, the rotating specialty. She would never harm a dog.”
Vandra noted, “Rebecca got on automatic pilot. It’s hard when you are nervous, millions are watching and you have never done something before (e.g. be in a best in show ring at Crufts) and it is your last show before Knopa goes home to Russia.”
Addressing the difference in culture from between the U.S. and the U.K., Vandra commented, “We always learn from one another. And I doubt Rebecca will be picking up any dog in Britain by its tail ever again. She is smart, talented and respectful of customs and people.”
Vandra is no stranger to the danger of Animal Rights Extremists. Her dogs were turned loose from her yard after Peggy Sue, BIS Am. Can.Ch. Gaelforce Post Script ROM, who Vandra co-owned, went Best in Show at Westminster Kennel Club in 1995.
Knopa is the great great grand daughter of Peggy Sue.
“I am proud of that win,” Vandra said. “But …. winning Crufts with Knopa, a dog I bred, with a handler who is like a daughter I never had, owned by a friend in Russia, is my major accomplishment. My goal was to always be honest about my dogs, try to breed healthy and sound dogs that met my idea and the standard of type. When I began to send dogs overseas (my first was to Brazil, Japan, then Australia and Singapore) my goal was to mix up our gene pool to keep our beloved Scotties healthy and sound.”
“I think what is important is that this was done by three determined women,” Vandra continued. “We don’t have lots of money. All of us work, I as a full professor at UW, Rebecca Cross as a systems analyst contractor for Pentagon projects, and Marina as a travel agent. We don’t have lots of political savvy. We all do know about the power of social media and we know and love the breed of Scottish Terriers. We were determined, supported one another and set difficult goals. We each gave what we could and it paid off. Best in Show at Crufts.”
“I did not go to the show because of teaching responsibilities. So I was here at a local dog show. I watched her win the group on Saturday using my husband’s little phone. On Sunday, Best in Show was about 1:30 pm,” Vandra reflected.
“We decided to bring my computer to the show so we could see pictures a bit larger than 2 inches. So we are in the set up. Both the phone and computer were on. The phone was slower with the feed and about a dog behind. So we got to watch beautiful dog after beautiful dog. We watched Knopa and Rebecca move. We cheered. We watched each dog move again.
“Now, I am not joking. It is time for the famous judge to point. Both the phone and the computer stop and freeze. … I think what can I do! I have to know! I decide to call Dorene Cross. Just when she picks up the phone, she whispers, ever so quietly. ‘OMG, we won.’ I told her to say it louder. She did. I whooped and (just) walked around the dog show aimlessly. I saw Honey Glendinning and told her and got the biggest hug ever. Then I saw David Gignac, another Canadian friend, and got a hug. Life could not be better. I wasn’t at Crufts but I was with my extended dog family. I am so honored, a dog I bred could do this. No real power, just three dedicated women who love Scotties, working hard, sharing and dreaming big.”