Elbereth Finnish Lapphunds

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

World Winner Dog Show - Helsinki 2014

When it was announced that the WW14 would return to Helsinki I was quick to plan a return trip, (I first visited Finland for the 1998 WDS) to see the breed I love, of course being in the breed's country of origin we could expect an amazing entry, though who could have predicted how big an entry it would be!

As the schedule was issued, the Finnish KC decided that the Finnish native breeds would benefit from a free entry and I started to think about actually entering Matkamies to be part of this once in a lifetime opportunity, so as entries were FOC I sent off the entry and then sat back to see if I would actually go through with it! Then I realised that flying a dog from UK is very complicated and expensive, £600 each way plus handling costs, so other ideas were considered and a plan of action made, "simples" drive to Holland, and fly out with Matka as escorted baggage from Schipol.  As planes usually restrict cargo load to no more than three dogs I had to get my booking in quickly - so the flights were booked and space reserved.

In no time at all, entry numbers for Finnish Lapphunds had surpassed 250 dogs and by the time entries closed, there were 526 entries! This certainly gave the organisers a headache?  Whilst there had been three judges advertised for the breed, there was no way they could judge this number of dogs between them, and provide the individual dog grading and critiques as is the norm in finland.  What would they do?  Then it was announced - FIVE judges:
  • Kirsi Honkanen - Finnish Lapphund (Puppies, veterans + *intermediate bitches)  - total of 87
  • Saara Sampakoski - Finnish Lapphund (junior, intermediate, champion dogs, CC, CACIB competitions, BOB) - total of 116
  • Elina Haapaniemi - Finnish Lapphund (open dogs) - total of 91
  • Mari Lackman - Finnish Lapphund (junior, champion bitches, CC, CACIB competitions) - total of 114
  • Tuula Savolainen - Finnish Lapphund (open bitches) - total of 118
So Matka was entered in Open Dog, a class of 91!  I debated long and hard about whether to go - but the booking had been made and it would just be amazing to be part of it, and the team of Nina, Jordie, Pia and Caron persuaded me to take him.  Of course his relaxed temperament is well known and I had no worries that the journey would be too much for him!

The WDS14 weekend was slap bang in middle of our family fortnight in Builth Wells, so my mad venture to Finland would actually be via Wales!  So on wednesday 6/8/14 Caron and I left Wales for Surrey, a stop over back home, then Thursday a quick visit to the vet for Pet Passport paperwork to be updated for entry to Finland/tied to cover return to UK as necessary too.  Then the drive to Folkestone and through Chunnel and onwards to Holland, and Jordie's hospitality.  Then an early start on Friday 8/8/14 for the flight to Helsinki.  As we sat on the plane, the Captain apologised for the delay in loading - but it appeared the plane was carrying an unprecedented TWELVE dogs on board, and at that point we could see the cargo team, loading the dogs via conveyer belt into the body of the plane.  

Matka on far right awaiting loading

At Helsinki we were reunited with Matka, and we headed out to meet up with Nina, who was kind enough to share her home with 4 mad lapphund lovers and a lapphund!  Pia had flown direct to Helsinki to join up with us.  Nina's kind friend Harri also provided the canine transportation for Matka as the hire car would not allow dogs!  
Another early start was planned for Saturday morning of the show, as with huge numbers expected at the show and Matka due in ring at 9.00am, we couldn't be late!  We were so fortunate to have Nina and Harri to get us to the car park, and navigate the short walk into the venue and our outside ring, arriving stress free and with time to groom up Matka, though like many of the dogs present he was rather in summer clothes!

photo by Melanie Holbaek
Because of the large number of dogs in the class the judge Elina Haapaniemi asked for 25 dogs at a time to come into the ring, after a look at the batch of 25 and moving them in two sub groups, we then left the ring as each dog was assessed in turn - Matka being dog 17 to be seen (not counting absentees). My dream, was to receive the excellent grade, and so was chuffed to hear this announced to the crowd by the ring steward after his judging and so we could rest until the class finale later in the day.  Once all the exhibits had been judged/graded, the dogs receiving the grade excellent were invited back in the ring - again in numerical order and the judge started the process of reducing the number down from approx 20 to the four final placings.  It was nerve wracking as we were moved around the ring, and then asked to present the dogs, and out of the corner of my eye I could see the judge shaking the hands of the exhibitors who were not making the cut.

The tension mounted and then I realised there was only 7 dogs left in the ring, again we all moved up and down, and three were unlucky, so I realised we had made the final 4 and would be placed at the WDS!  We were still standing in alpha order and I was at the front of the group, and then the judge moved another dog up behind me and asked us to move again.  Under FCI rules its quite common for judges to place the dogs in reverse order, so as we ran around the ring and the crowd did the usual excitement building, slow hand clap, as the judge pointed to me - I was sure I was fourth, so it was amazing when she pointed to the No1 place board, a truly emotional moment.

The day did not end there - after all rings had completed judging - the stewards called the dogs who were eligible for the CAC into the main breed ring, to be judged by Saara Sampakoski, this was awarded to the Junior winner Turnukan Nalle, and I was delighted to win the RCAC.  A super result amongst cracking dogs from around the world, see the full results.

Whilst at the show the Finnish press caught up with us, for an interview - really to find out why this mad lady had come from UK to Finland for the WDS!

Matka's critique "Five year old with pale cream markings, very typey male, not in full coat, strong well shaped head, excellent expression, good bone, healthy structure, good mover"

The return trip was planned for Sunday, but a decision had to be made - whether to leave Matka behind in Nina's care for another National Championship show the following weekend.  It was obvious Matka was very relaxed at Nina's and I just felt it would be the one chance to gain his Finnish title.  So we headed home, without Matka, doing the mad trip in reverse, flight to Schipol, and overnight stay with Jordie, to wish her a Happy 30th Birthday and a celebratory meal at Cafe de Hamer .  Then another early start for the long drive back to Wales, which was certainly made easier by the euphoria of what Matka had achieved.

photo by Harri Kivimäki
So Nina had the tough job of taking Matka to the show the following weekend, I was judging at WKC, so was unable to take her call/messages till lunch time.  When I finished judging I turned on my phone and saw a message, did I dare read it?  It was amazing Matka won Open dog, the CAC, and then best dog beating the champion dog winner and finally BOB over the bitches, BOS was the lovely  Lapinpeikon Namupala, the judge was Erja Nummi.  

Matka's critique "Excellent type, correct proportions, excellent head, attractive expression.
Good topline, good ears, excellent broad body and bone substance. Well balanced angulations. Moves freely. Beautiful coat. Entirely stylish" 

This win gives Matka his Finnish Sh Ch title.

Now to wait a few weeks till we can organise Matka's return trip.

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