Gallery: Four proud dog lovers from Mendlesham qualify for Crufts with their four-legged friends
09:00 22 January 2014
They insist there will be no rivalry when their pampered pups prance for prizes at Crufts.
But it is difficult to imagine that bragging rights in the village park will not be coveted when four proud owners from Mendlesham enter a combined eight dogs at the prestigious show in early March.
“It is a great achievement for such a small village,” said experienced handler Debbie Gaskin.
She is just as familiar with the cavernous National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, where Crufts has been held since 1991, as she is with the nutritional and dietary needs of her three standard smooth dachshunds; three-month-old Rodney, Lenny, three, and Skipper, two.
The latter is a Malaysian national champion, recruited by the housewife as she bids to top the podium for the ninth time of asking.
“I give them a couple of miles’ walk every day,” said Mrs Gaskin, who has earned a top-five finish every year.
“An unfit dog will not do well.”
This year will be different though. Along with husband Gary, she will be joined by three other competitors from the village vying for approval from the quizzical judges.
Sharon Marshal, aided by son Aaron, has Afghans Annais and Thierry. Kay Crisp has Cocker Spaniels Mini and Dexter. Isobel Eastell has Airedale Terrier Susan.
But Mrs Gaskin said they will be driven only by individual honours.
“There is no rivalry,” she said. “We all want each other to do really well. We are all friends and although we don’t train together we will be supporting each other.
“Let’s hope we come back to Mendlesham with plenty of ribbons to show off.”