- Written by Jan Cobley
This is the picture I dreamed of but did not expect. Cleo getting Best Champion Female and her point for Portuguese Grande Champion title. Thank you to Ana for the photo and Raquel for showing her for me. I hope my little story may inspire someone that there is no ‘mountain too high’ and that anything can be achieved with determination and focus.
It is very tough at times but it is always easier to ‘not do’ than ‘to do’ is my motto.
I started to show Cleo, aka Ibn Harun Coral, six years ago, initially in the little local Water Trial shows. I had never shown a dog ever, the Portuguese Water Dog was a new breed to me, so it was all very confusing. We attended our first major Dog Show here in Portugal at Estoril 2006. I must thank Laura Browne and her family for all the support over the years, I would not have even thought of it without Laura.
Over the years we have achieved much together, Cleo and I, three trips to Crufts and trips all around Portugal and Spain. Cleo has given me back the courage I lost on becoming ill 12 years ago. Three years ago Cleo chose to support me as my Medic Alert dog and she gives this all her attention. She can read me like a book and warn me of impending collapse, trouble and even if I have forgotten to bring my medication out of the house.
So...earlier this year it was suggested I campaign Cleo for a new achievement a Portuguese Grande Champion. This was a huge mountain to me, especially as when she was in a ring in June she refused to run as I was not well enough to run. So was I being very optimistic - I felt I was. I was encouraged by friends to try.
I started to train Cleo by running her around our roads for at least an hour a day. I also cut her food down to reduce her weight a little to try and give us as good a chance as I could. I had an offer of grooming from Maria from Woof Woof Boutique in Portimăo which was very kind and has been very successful.
First show to visit was Lisbon. My good friend Anne agreed to keep me company, we booked up a nearby Ibis and set both our GPS to try and find the showground, I have been lost so many times getting to it I was not enthusiastic. Lisbon is a tough show, it is usually very hot, long walk with goods and dogs. So we were prepared. Found the Hotel easily and amazingly the venue the next morning after one false move. There were many PWDs at the ring. Cleo achieved the CCC card both days , however the Judges both said she needed to move faster. This I knew and was entirely my fault. Many people stopped us to compliment us on how Cleo looked which was lovely. In my head I went back down the path of ‘I need a runner’ but was out of ideas.
Several show friends over the next week agreed I needed to find a runner for Cleo. I attended the Water Trials at Olhaão the next weekend, a lovely result with Cleo as Best Female and Reserve Best in Show. The Judge here again said I really must find someone to run her as I was holding her back. Then my brilliant friends came up with an answer for the next two shows, at least. Raquel Colaço would run her for me.
Next show was Sintra, this is a lovely village setting. Had been very difficult to find over the years but my trusty GPS found it. I had to travel alone this time, a worry as I am not very fit but I had Cleo with me. We set off from The Algarve early on the Friday and with no false moves were at the show by 15.00pm. Wonderful. We met Raquel who is amazing with all the dogs, Cleo took to her instantly - watching Raquel run her around a ring to practice was like watching someone else’s dog in a ring. The weekend was fabulous. Cleo was Best Female, Best of Breed, Third Best in her group and Reserve in Portuguese Breeds on Saturday. She achieved the CCC card on both days. It was such an exciting weekend.
We then had a few weeks break until Estoril show. This again is a fabulous summer show, wonderful setting in front of the Casino. We had 3 shows to take part in and needed the CCC ticket in each. One show was the Monografica or Speciality, which is the main PWD show of the year. Raquel showed Cleo again and Cleo obtained all the points she needed so on Sunday evening she became a Portuguese Grande Champion, the first female PWD to achieve this. I am still in shock.
Cleo and the shows have given me so much. The Portuguese people are so helpful, so friendly, the CPC (Portuguese Kennel Club) and A.P.C.A.P (Portuguese Water Dog Club) have been so supportive. The shows are obviously all in Portuguese which I struggle with, the wonderful Portuguese Judges and Stewards have been fabulous---sending me to the correct place at the correct time. We love going to the shows to meet our friends, we now have some wonderful Spanish friends as well and cannot imagine not attending shows.
Where do we go from here, I am not quite sure. After Cassie was badly spooked by a Foreign Judge in a ring when she was 10 months old I am not convinced I can get her back in a ring. I may try. Cleo and I still have some plans. However as Cleo is my Medic Alert dog she will continue to work by my side at all times. Cleo will look after me I know, and she has given me so much.
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