Having had to decline previous invitations to judge in Russia we were pleased that on this occasion we were able to accept. Little did we realise that within a matter of days we would receive a call from Hong Kong inviting us to judge for them a week later.
We decided that this was just too good an opportunity to miss and the best way to tackle it was to fly onto HK from Moscow. Of course fate almost took over! During the week leading up to our departure the snow came to the UK and numerous flights out of Heathrow were cancelled which could have easily scuppered our plans. Fortunately the Moscow flight took off without a hitch and we arrived to temperatures of -12 to -15 degrees and wondering what all the fuss had been about back home! There was so much more snow and ice in Moscow yet everything seemed to be running smoothly. Traffic volumes are a real problem there and one never quite knows how long even a short journey might take. The warm welcome and kind hospitality more than compensated for the outdoor temperatures.
There was a panel of 27 judges from around the world, most had around 100 dogs to judge under FCI rules meaning grading and a critique for every dog. The panel was very knowledgeable and although judging did not commence until noon all judges managed to finish in the allotted time. It was an excellent show and we judged some quality dogs. The majority of dogs were shown in good clean hard condition and we could not help but be impressed by the exhibitor’s friendliness towards each other and politeness to us. Vince Hogan and Joanne Blackburn-Bennett have already written of the principal winners. (More in OUR DOGS March 8th issue).
As first time visitors to Russia we were shown the sights including Red Square and the delights of the Kremlin with its distinctive onion shaped topped buildings, awesome indeed. On the last evening a surprise visit to the Bolshoi ballet had generously been arranged and one could not help but be impressed by the grandeur of the building and that was before the dancers took to the stage – a spellbinding performance and an experience never to be forgotten. That evening we had expected to be dropped off at the entrance and picked up later in the same manner. It took a while to gather our party together for a group photo and we really regretted leaving the winter wear back at the hotel, again Vince did not waste anytime getting those pictures onto Facebook! (We’ve seen them…brrrrrr - Ed)
Hotting Up In Hong Kong
Less than 24 hours later found us on the flight to Hong Kong and arriving to a very welcome 24 degrees and even warmer welcome from the folks there. With a total entry of 162 dogs they had arranged not back to back but side by side shows! We both judged all the dogs completely independently from breed classes right through to BIS. The venue was an excellent conference centre not unlike NEC and laid out with two huge rings running alongside one another. The public interest was most interesting with numerous spectators 4 or 5 deep all-round, we were too busy to be able to see what each other were doing. Stuart’s BIS was a stunning top winning Siberian Husky from China with a B&W Pointer RBIS. Rod’s BIS was a US Grand Champion Keeshond and a previous dog of the year winner in HK whilst RBIS went to a recent UK exported Palacegarden Pekingese. We both finished up with similar winners most noticeably the Baby Puppy which was the most enchanting Pomeranian, 4 months old and totally self assured, compact with the neatest ears and sweetest of expressions. On the move it just never put a foot wrong and a real treat to watch it step out so accurately.
Once again the exhibitors were polite and very friendly to each other and many of the handlers reappeared in our rings with several different dogs of varying breeds who seemed totally unfazed by it all. When one considers that 94% of the population lives in apartments, bombproof temperaments are a definite must. Since the two shows were going on at the same time and handlers were busy in both rings it was a miracle – or good planning – that everything ran so smoothly with no hold ups.
Various trips had been arranged for us including the must see ‘Hong Kong by night’ experience. Keen to explore a bit on our own we even ventured onto the metro. A masterpiece in modern engineering and so clean as was the entire island.
Two great shows with such keen dog folk, long may it continue.
Stuart Mallard & Rodney Oldham