This morning L, Daughter and I along with the two dogs are up at 6am and off to the NEC for Crufts. The loss of Doggo has made the arrangements a lot easier, although it’s not nice to admit that. We’re all missing the awkward old sod.
We get an excellent close parking spot and are in the Arena by 8:30am setting up our backstage area. The Lad has to stay in the car but the weather is still nice and cold for him. We can also check on his regularly. I don’t even try to convince the stewards that a three month old puppy is competing.
So we’re all calm and ready for our competition which is at 10:20am. Even MD is relaxed and tells me we’re going to win it for Doggo. I think he’s seriously deluded as I’m sure he’s going to embarrass me.
There are two problems threatening to disrupt the calm... a couple of our team members are running late and my parents haven’t even left home yet. I knew I should have picked them up.
My folks don’t make it until it’s all over, so all we can do is meet them for coffee and cake later. Our two missing team mates do show up but later than we would have liked and only after the text message from our reserve giving her apologies.
Then we’re on, the first of the eight teams to go, and being streamed live on YouTube. Fame!
Now our team knows it’s limitations and we racked up a few faults in qualifying but it was good enough to get us here. The same thing happens under the glare of the Crufts lights. We roll a few poles, grab a few refusals, miss the odd contact point and clock up 35 faults, although I think (secretly) it should have been 40 but in the end that doesn't matter.
MD does his usually trick of refusing on a tunnel and also fetches a pole down with his tail, not a problem I’ll have with the Lad because he doesn’t have one. However, and this is the key thing, not one of us goes wrong and grabs an elimination which is worth 100 faults. Team 2 do and then Team 3 do as well.
Team 4 also does but the scoreboard isn’t showing it even though the Judge signalled it. Cue confusion are we first or second? Meanwhile Team 5 and Team 6 both have double eliminations (e.g. 200 points), so we’re still second at worst as the red hot favourites take to the line.
These guys won not one qualifier but two and beat us in our heat. They are again paw perfect and record four flawless clear rounds although not as quickly as we expected. Clearly they are hedging their bets that the final team also do not go clear.
Team 8 don’t go clear but going into the final four obstacles they only have 5 faults and have second place in the bag until... cue massive secret unsporting cheers from our team as they get eliminated as well.
Are we second? We are and we head out into the Arena to get our medals.
Massively proud of our team, of MD and I suppose myself too. We very nearly did win it for Doggo and I’m sure he’s thrilled with our second place.
I have a quick wander round the stalls to press the flesh with a few of our club’s sponsors and then it’s home and a game of squash tonight.
(Thursday 8th March)