SO here we are celebrating Christmas 2013 when traditionally we look back at all that has happened in the year just gone and assess what has happened and what impact those events have had.

For this week we have encouraged all of our writers to look at the positives. In recent years it has been all too easy to concentrate on the negatives of the world of pedigree dogs and to become introspective when what we really need to do is start looking outward, looking at where the next generation of breeders and exhibitors will come from and encouraging them to get involved.

The young Kennel Club Summer Camp, Our next Generation of dog Fanciers

At Dog World we have, I think, been doing our bit for some time in nurturing young people. On our staff we have Adrian Marett and Marina Scott who were both accomplished junior handlers in their time. Adrian is the face of Dog World at championship shows all across the UK, his work for the world of dogs and in the world of dogs leaves him little time to compete any more. Marina shows her own Border Collies and still handles for others from time to time and she is one of the faces of our monthly TV programme Around the Dog World. We also regularly use members of the Young Kennel Club (YKC) to help us out and we have been sponsors of the Junior Handling Association (JHA) for three years now and we want to look at ways that we can strengthen our links with the JHA. Why did we do this? The answer is simple we want to encourage the next generation because without a next generation there is no future.

But so many of the highlights of the year just gone have been down to one member of the new generation and the team he built around him. Gavin Robertson the man who handled last year’s Crufts best in show winner Ch Soletrader Peek a Boo or Jilly have surely made their mark on the year in so many ways.

Gavin and Jilly made a great partnership in the show ring. Their Crufts triumph was the culmination of a lot of hard work, work that had seen Jilly win the reserve best in show at Crufts two years before. Jilly has that glint in her eye, she is a characterful dog who just so looks like she is enjoying herself. At the end of her lead is Gavin, someone who has been in the dog game since childhood. He met his wife Sara through their shared love of dogs and together they have nurtured the Soletrader kennel and secured too many top honours to mention here.

Gavin Robertson and “Jilly” Crufts 2013 Best in Show winner – CH Soletrader Peek a Boo

I was frustrated by the lack of attention the Kennel Club appeared to pay to Gavin and Jilly’s win. I felt they embodied everything that we should be shouting about; here was a great dog from a great line owned by a young family who are totally committed to this world of ours, what better way of attracting other young families to a least come and have a look and find out if the world of pedigree dogs could offer them an enjoyable hobby.

But master of his own destiny Gavin decided he wanted to do something, he wanted to give something back to the world that had given him so much and so Jilly’s Jolly Jaunt was born. The 140 mile sponsored walk was covered in depth earlier in the year so I won’t go over all the details again here but it brought the world of pedigree dogs together in a way I had never seen before and if that wasn’t enough it raised just short of £50,000 ($82,000) for good causes.

Out of the Jaunt has come the idea for the Pawscars which will take place next March and for the establishment of a Trust – the Peek a Boo Trust in celebration of Jilly – which will help and encourage the world of pedigree dogs to get involved in fundraising activity and to engage with those who don’t know much about this world – who knows they might find it’s the hobby for them.


Across the world we have suffered in recent years from the economic malaise that left our economies in a mess. Looking back to 2007 and 2008 I have to wonder how much of that downturn was self-inflicted? Every news broadcast for a couple of years carried reports of impending doom and gloom, broadcasters and journalists told us how bad things were going to be and guess what? Like a self-fulfilling prophecy what they said turned out to be true. And in the world of pedigree dogs it’s been much the same. For the last five years or so as we have picked over the wounds inflicted by the Pedigree Dogs Exposed TV programme that was first broadcast here in the UK.

Well for 2014 I think we all have a duty to stop the introspection, to stop telling the world about our faults and our failure and to start celebrating our success.

Tell people why you enjoy your hobby, tell them what got you involved in the first place. Tell them what’s great about owning a pedigree dog, tell them how when you take your dog for a walk people will stop and talk to you in a way that never happens when you’re on your own.

This world of pedigree dogs is a great one, it’s filled with great people achieving amazing things and having a lot of fun while they do it. So why would we not want to share that joy?

If we keep talking ourselves down we’ll only have ourselves to blame if our shows continue to fade from falling entries. As Gavin Robertson has clearly demonstrated we control our own destiny, we know why we want to be part of this great hobby so lets make sure other people know too. And have you ever noticed people who own a crossbreed always want to reference it back to what it is a cross of, they want the association with a recognised breed, that’s the power of the pedigree dog!

When you read this Christmas day will be behind us, I hope you had a good one. 2014 is less than a week away may I wish you and your dogs all the very best for a prosperous and successful year.

HAVE you cast your vote for the Pawscars yet? You don’t have to vote in every category. Have a look at the voting form and have your say on the winner.