The Young Kennel Club online dog show has drawn to a conclusion after 17 consecutive days of classes, which attracted more than 1,100 entries from all corners of the UK, culminating in Romeo, a two year-old Cocker Spaniel, owned by Ruby-Mae Brooks from York, being crowned the overall winner.
Launched in mid-May to celebrate the joy our four-legged friends bring, and recognising how they are helping their young owners through lockdown, the virtual show was open to Young Kennel Club (YKC) members aged 6-24 and showcased a whole variety of impressive tricks and handling techniques, as well as plenty of cute and cuddly pictures.
Despite being stuck at home, 18 year-old Ruby-Mae and Romeo have taken this time as an opportunity to do plenty of training, whether that’s heelwork, agility or obedience, which the pair regularly compete in under normal circumstances. The dynamic duo were named the winners after coming top in the Best Walkies class.
Speaking of their win, Ruby-Mae said: “I’m elated! I didn’t believe it was us at first! We celebrated with a long walk where he had a good run and play with his favourite ball. I’m so proud of Romeo and the fact that the picture sums him up so well – it shows how much he loves life and all the thrills that come along with it.
“Romeo is my world and has helped me through lots of challenges in my life by giving me a purpose and a hobby that I love and enjoy. He has continued to support me through lockdown by always being on hand for a cuddle or always being ready to work, either training in agility or obedience.”
As well as providing young dog lovers with a fun activity to enjoy with their canine friends, the YKC online dog show was initiated to promote the importance of mental and physical stimulation for dogs during lockdown, celebrate the companionship, love and joy that dogs bring into our lives, as well as providing hundreds of cute puppy pictures for dog lovers everywhere to scroll through.
The winners from each class were then judged by Tony Allcock OBE, Executive Chairman of the Kennel Club, who said: “I have been very impressed with the outstanding interest of this competition. It has been significant at this current time for YKC members to have a new opportunity for themselves and their dogs.
“The feedback from parents has been one of support for the competition and appreciation as this has reached areas of the membership that may not always have the chance to take part in a YKC competition and has given members something different to do at this difficult time. Choosing the overall winner was not an easy task but I believe the winning picture captured the optimism of what dogs are all about and everything they stand for.”
The winners of the classes were as follows:
Best YKC Gundog – Chester, a two-year-old Irish Water Spaniel, owned by Olivia Busby, 21, from Oxfordshire
Olivia is a university student, studying Canine Behaviour and Training, but is currently at home whilst her university is closed. They would normally be attending dog shows at this time of year, but during lockdown she has been taking her fun and loving dog, Chester, for long walks and discovering new places.
Best YKC Utility – Nico, a four-year-old Japanese Spitz, owned by Lyndsey Jones, 20, from Flintshire, North Wales
Nico is Lyndsey’s first home-bred dog, and they also share their home with his mum Kiki, brother Hugo, sister Esme, and Lyndsey’s Shetland Sheepdog, Cassi. The pair regularly compete across the UK in open and championship level dog shows, often successfully. Lyndsey describes Nico as a very cuddly, needy boy, so during lockdown they have been exploring new walks around where they live.
Best YKC At Home Trick – Apollo, a one-year-old, Collie/Poodle cross, and Emma Stock, 17, from Taunton, Somerset
Whilst in normal circumstances Emma would be competing in agility with her older dog, Athena, and was even on this year’s YKC Team GB squad with her, Emma is using the time in lockdown to work on training her “high energy bundle of joy” Apollo in heelwork to music, agility and tricks – the hard work for which has clearly paid off!
Best YKC At Home Agility – Emrys, a three-year-old Border Collie, and Emmy Figg, 21, from Dartford
Emrys and Emmy regularly compete in agility and, in fact, do everything together. They’ve been making the most of lockdown to try some at-home agility training as well as running together to keep their fitness up.
Best YKC Toy – Marcel, an Affenpinscher, owned by Sophie, aged 18
Best YKC Working – Brandie, a five-year-old Dobermann, owned by Ebony Judge, 20, from Liverpool
As a younger dog, Brandie used to compete in both handling and Disc dog (a sport which involves a flying disc, with owners and dogs competing in distance catching and choreographed freestyle catching) alongside Ebony, whilst they now often train in agility, canicross and heelwork to music for fun. During lockdown they have been exploring new walks in their area, swimming at the beach and learning lots of new tricks.
Best YKC At Home Handling – Dobby, a five-year-old Cocker Spaniel/Poodle cross, and Grace Westow, 11, from Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex
Dobby and Grace usually attend Clacton Ringcraft Club every week and take part in many companion dog shows throughout the summer. While they had been looking forward to attending the YKC Summer Camp this year, they have instead been taking very early morning walks on their local beach as well as practising handling and agility in the garden. Grace also took part in YKC Handling (six – 11 years) at this year’s Crufts, placing fourth with her friend’s Whippet.
Best YKC Pastoral – Dream, a three-year-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi, owned by Erin Logie, 22, from Carnoustie, Scotland
Erin and her family fell in love with Pembroke Welsh Corgis a few years ago and now own two, alongside three Large Munsterlanders. Erin and Dream take part in breed showing as well as attending YKC handling classes, but their overall goal is to strut their stuff in the YKC ring at Crufts. Erin works at a nearby veterinary group in Dundee who are continuing to provide emergency care for sick animals during Covid-19, so appreciates coming home to her dogs after hectic and stressful days.
Best YKC Hound – Roly and Ana, Miniature Smooth Haired Dachshunds, owned by Rachel, aged 19
Best YKC At Home Dog and Owner Workout – Fudge, a rescue dog, and Annabel Readman, 17, from Hertfordshire
Annabel’s family adopted Fudge from a local rescue centre in 2017 and since then he has changed their lives – as well as helping Annabel out with her sit-ups and planks, which impressed the YKC judges! The pair have been doing agility training for two years and started competing in May 2019. During lockdown they have been doing a lot of trick training at home, as well as agility training in the garden and lots of long walks.
Best YKC Terrier – Walter, a two-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, owned by Nicholas Duffield, 14, from Barnstaple, Devon
Walter and Nicholas love to compete at open, championship and breed shows together. As well as junior handling. During lockdown, as well as enjoying local woodland walks, Nicholas has been practising his grooming skills and describes hand stripping as “quite an art”.
Best YKC At Home Heelwork to Music – Luna, a two-year-old Cocker Spaniel/Poodle cross, and Lily House, 15, from Cornwall
Luna is an owner-trained assistance dog who helps Lily with her autism and seizures as well as performing tricks routines together. The pair love fun dog shows but as they haven’t been able to attend any this summer, they have instead been training on the beach and in their garden.
Best YKC Dog Doppelganger – Aspen, a six-year-old Siberian Husky, and Ashley Sutton, 13, from County Durham
Ashley has been handling Aspen since 2018 and together they have qualified for YKC Crufts classes over two consecutive years, and even achieved third place in the YKC Stakes class.
Best YKC Rescue – Titch, a 12-year-old Jack Russell Terrier cross, owned by Amy Challis, 18, from Dartford, Kent
Titch is Amy’s first dog and was originally found alone in a field, in a bad condition over ten years ago. Amy trained Titch in agility herself and the duo reached grade 5 two years ago and now Titch is enjoying her retirement, with plenty of walks and quality time with Amy.
Best YKC At Home Obedience – Archie, a two-year-old Lurcher, owned by Alex Cowtan, 23, from Oxfordshire
Alex and Archie usually compete regularly, in both agility and at fun dog shows. During lockdown they have turned their competitive nature online, adding this to an impressive line of successes.
Best YKC Crossbreed – Loki, a crossbreed, owned by Lydia, aged nine
There is more information for young dog lovers who are interested in joining the Young Kennel Club available at www.ykc.org.uk.