Barbet News (page 34)
11th Exposition Nationale D`Elevage
Le Blanc, France.
Setting off just after dawn in light drizzle, the weather could only improve. No change after a quick ferry crossing to Cherbourg but as we headed steadily south the cloud slowly gave way to sun and eventually clear skies. After an overnight stop in the medieval town of Loches we had time for a quick look around the old town before heading to Le Blanc, the site of the Exposition Nationale D`Elevage of the Club du Barbet, du Lagotto et autres Chiens d`Eau or to put it in English, the national show of the French water dog club. We met up with Fiona and NÚnu at our accomodation for the weekend, a lovely converted farm building, five kilometers from Le Blanc. On the night before the show we were all feeling the increase in temperature and with Betsy and Bepop looking to stretch their legs and cool down after a long journey we took a stroll alonf the banks of La Creuse, the river running through Le Blanc. Being water dogs, neither of the girls needed any encouragment to take a dip.
NÚnu and handler Sarah.
We were up early on the Saturday to give the dogs a quick walk before breakfast and then of to the show. There were 34 barbets in all from France, the UK, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, Poland and Holland. The day of the show was a real scorcher with temperatures over 40 deg C in the show hall. NÚnu was up first in the class for Young Females, and was handled by Sarah Cundy a friend of Fiona`s and was narrowly pipped for the class but had some very promising comments from the club president Mme Renne Rault who was judging the class and easily passed her `confirmation`, the first British born barbet to do so. Although `confirmation` is not required for UK dogs with export pedigrees it is definately a feather in our cap. NÚnu is definately one to watch in the future in either the open or working class.
With Bepop and Betsy in the same Open Female class, Annette Dinsdale (Ooli`s owner) kindly agreed to handle Betsy in the show ring. In France you are judged by three judges and given an aggregate score which has its advantages over the single judge system but in the sweltering heat became an endurance test for the dogs and handlers. With many of the dogs choosing to lie on the cooler concrete floor, We even took the girls outside inbetween judges and ran the tap over them!
Betsy and Annette during judging.
To make matters worse we think each judge had a trainee with them (or they may have been stewards) and were explaining their thoughts as they judged. There is no immediate result in the ring, you wait for them to be posted. They can get: Insufficient = fails to meet the standard, B (bon)= good; TB (tres bon) = very good; Exc = Excellent and Exc + = better than excellent. With neither of the girls being experienced show dogs we didn`t have too high expectations and as the judges didn`t seem to be spending too much time discussing Betsy and Bepop we were just hoping that we gave a good account for the UK. It wasn`t until sometime later that a few people walked past smiling and said `Bravo` that we dashed off to see the results. Bepop had been awarded Exc, Exc, Exc+ giving an overall score of Exc B, placing her near the top of the class. Betsy had been awarded Exc, Exc+, Exc+ giving an overall score of Exc A placing her as equal first with Quaciendas Amy Unique from Holland who already has a very full trophy cabinet. Going into the next round, Amy came out on top with Betsy being awarded the reserve ticket (RCACS). All in all it was a very good day for the British girls!
Even outside the show ring the Brits were making their mark, Odo, Betsy`s son, although not being shown, was there with his owner Yvonne Thomas and her family taking time out from their holiday to support the Brits. One of France`s long established barbet breeders enquired about Odo`s availability for stud and he also found time to give blood for international research into hereditary canine deseases as they need as large a pool of healthy dogs as possible. At the end of a long hot day the dogs were finally allowed a much needed dip in the river before everyone headed of to shower and eat.
Of course, it wasn`t all hard work.
The following day Wendy Preston was invited to represent the U.K. at a meeting of the Barbet Breeders Commission with representatives from Italy, Holland, Canada, Switzerland and of course France. With the majority of the meeting conducted in French it was always going to be hard to follow. Topics discussed, included in-depth interpretation of the standard and a discussion on the barbet coat and its presentaion. The meeting could have carried on all day but with many attending having long journeys home, it ended just after lunchtime.
Although success in the show was a bonus, the real purpose of the trip was achieved outside the show ring and in the cafe`s and restaurants of Le Blanc. We were able to meet up again with some old friends and make new ones who all share the common goal of promoting and developing the barbet breed.