A Trip To Crufts 2015

Crufts - the world's largest dog show took place in Birmingham last weekend. OneMind Dogs Coach Tuulia Liuhto and Pirtu were representing Finland in the international agility competition. Watch a video of their trip!

Crufts is one of the largest and best known dog events in the world. The international agility competition of Crufts is an invitational event to which only one dog and handler team from Finland gets to attend. This team is selected based on success in the Finnish Team Tryout competition.

OneMind Dogs team has been representing Finland at Crufts for several years. OneMind Dogs entered the ring with Janita Leinonen and Cosmo in 2006, Jaakko Suoknuuti and Zen in 2009 & 2013, Tuulia Liuhto and Punssi in 2011 & 2012, and with Elina Jänesniemi and Omie in 2014. This year, Tuulia Liuhto and Border Collie Pirtu got the honour of entering the famous main ring of Crufts.

Tuulia travelled to Crufts this year with OneMind Dogs Coach Jenni Leino. When travelling to Great Britain with a dog on a plane, there are many things that you need to consider, and it helps to have someone to assist you. The dog is flying in cargo and needs to be picked up at the Animal Center at Heathrow airport. Taking care of the paperwork at the airport can be a bit tricky, and it takes a while to be able to get the dog out of the Animal Center.

For drivers who are used to driving on the right side of the road, it is an exciting adventure to drive in Britain. Tuulia and Jenni worked well as a team and managed to get from Heathrow to Birmingham and back without any incidents.

There was a huge amount of people on Saturday at NEC, where the Crufts show takes place. The feeling in the main ring during the international agility competition was quite amazing. "It is always different and exciting, in a good way, to compete in front of a big audience", says Tuulia. "You can see how your dog gets more excited, too, than in a regular competition."

The arrangements at Crufts worked well. The competitors are well informed about what is happening and when, and they get to prepare for the competition in the nice, quite collection ring with their assistant. You get to have the course map before the course walk, which is useful, since there is really not too much time to watch the course beforehand. The courses are built amazingly fast since the schedule in the main ring is quite tight.

"The surface of the course is quite slippery. Fortunately Pirtu adapts very fast to new surfaces, but it takes a while to find the rhythm, because the surface affects the dog's movement on the course" says Tuulia. "The courses in Great Britain are often quite different from the courses that we are used to. The distances between the obstacles can vary from extremely short to extremely long, and you can have some funny looking obstacles on the course, like a tire without the frame".

In the international competition, a maximum of 16 dog & handler teams are able to qualify to the final round. This year, 12 teams made it to the finals. Tuulia says: "The qualifying courses had no surprises, and they had a good flow: the dog was able to proceed logically if the handler was able to keep him on the correct line. The final course, however, was more about keeping the dog under control, guiding him past the off course obstacles. It was not possible to let an obstacle focused dog read the course independently, and many of the competitors were unfortunately disqualified."

Tuulia and Pirtu ran clean on the qualifying agility course and were placed 3rd on it. On jumping, Pirtu missed the weave entry, but in the overall ranking after 2 runs, Tuulia and Pirtu were placed 3rd. On the final course, Pirtu missed the dogwalk contact, but Tuulia managed to guide her through the challenges of the course, and they were placed 4th. "I am not completely happy with my performance, but I am still very happy about the chance to represent my country in this great competition. It was nice to be able to experience this adventure with Pirtu, who always gives me her best, no matter where we compete", says Tuulia.

The top five of the finals was:

  1. Morten Juhl Hansen with Spottie
  2. Neil Lowndes with Foxy Roxy The Red Rocket
  3. Sally Andrews with Big City Border Jumper
  4. Tuulia Liuhto with Promillen Pirtu
  5. Thomas Thiesen with Viatt's Kick Ass

Watch the international agility competition on Crufts YouTube channel:

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