Watch: Dog training trio from Suffolk aiming for Crufts' glory
PUBLISHED: 13:35 05 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:35 05 March 2019
Crufts kicks off this week - with three young Suffolk trainers hoping their hounds can take home the gold on the agility course.
The trio are 17-year-old reigning champion Hester Cowley with eight-year-old Shetland Sheepdog Ace, 16-year-old Fred Adams with five-year-old Cocker Spaniel George.
Brooke Smiles, 21, is taking double the dogs - with four-year old Shetland Sheepdog Dex and four-year-old Labradoodle Izzy.
All three of them train three times a week around work or full-time education.
Ms Smiles said: “It’s been a lot of training, a lot of hours and a lot of hard work, but I could never have done this without Jacqui.
“I’m just going to run like it’s a normal show, try not to get too nervous.
“I’ll always take the best dog home if I win or not.”
They are all trained at Ace Agility, near Glemsford, where teacher Jacqui Wood is getting them ready in the final days before the competition.
“This week everything we are doing is high-reward for the dogs and making everything we do very positive.
“If you can stimulate a dogs mind you will have a happy animal.
“Their dedication and loyalty to the sport is just phenomenal. Thankfully the weather was great last week and everything is going to plan.”
Fred, who has competed twice at Crufts previously, said: “It’s quite strange because there is a lot more pressure than the normal shows - but it’s still quite exciting.
“This time George is a lot more experienced. He’s a lot older and so am I, so I’m hoping to do better.
Ms Wood has a pedigree when it comes to agility courses.
She coached Julie Thompson to multiple medals and a world title at the paragility world championships in October 2018, with both her dogs taking home silverware.
Mrs Thompson uses a modified motorised scooter, with tighter turning and greater acceleration, to get round the same agility course with Nancy, a six-year-old Labradoodle, and Dodger, a nine-year-old Patterdale-Terrier cross.
The three contenders will be hoping to walk away with their best-ever performances when Crufts - the world’s largest dog show - kicks off at the Birmingham NEC on March 7.
“They have the same thing Julie had, you see the bond between dog and handler grow the more they do,” said Ms Wood, talking about her young trainees.
“To get to Crufts is just an amazing achievement.
“To see them on the television - words just can’t describe how satisfying that is.”