The conclusion of the last show of the year always provides me with a chance to reflect on the year that was. And WHAT a year it was.
Of course the hero of the year was Benni (Supreme Ch. Armahani Heliodorr Hulivili (ai) ET).
I should have known it was going to be great year, when on our opening weekend of shows he took 1 x Best in Group (BIG1) and 2 x Runner-up Best in Groups (BIG2).
With February and most of March seeing me tied up with work, we resumed showing on 23rd March. Benni took a tidy Runner-up Best in Group (BIG2) and Best Australian Bred in Show, under Working Dog Specialist, Shaneen Bendixon (Qld).
The following weekend Benni made history, becoming the first Finnish Lapphund to win an all breeds Best in Show in Tasmania. He is also the first Wolf Sable Lappie to win an all breeds Best in Show in Australia. Thank you so much to Miss Marilyn Hoy (NSW) for this honour.
In April we travelled to Sydney for the Finnish Lapphund Club of New South Wales specialty show, under breed specialist Esa Ruotsalaimen (Finland). Benni won Best Opposite Sex Australian Bred in Show (to the BISS winner), receiving a lovely critique:
"Lovely type. Excellent body proportions. Beautiful head form and expression. Eyes could be slightly darker. Lovely topline and tail set. Maximum depth of rib cage. Correct bone and angulations. Lovely coat quality. Lovely mover." Grading: Excellent. Classification: Champion Quality.
Throughout winter, Benni continued on his way, taking multiple Best and Runner-up Best in Groups and Best Australian Bred in Shows.
Then, in August, Benni won his 10th Best in Group, under judge Arthur Fry (Vic), qualifying him for his SUPREME CHAMPION title. He is only the 7th Finnish Lapphund to achieve this Australia and the first Wolf Sable.
The final highlights of the year came at Hobart Royal. First, Benni took Best of Breed, under Mr Svien Helgenson (Sweden). Then he was a 'swap' dog for the National Junior Handlers Final. He worked so well with New South Wales Representative, Taylah Rattray, who went on to be awarded Runner-up National Winner.
So, in a nutshell, 2019 saw Benni:
#2 Finnish Lapphund (Australia)
#3 Working Dog (Tasmania)
1 x Best in Show (all breeds)
5 x Best in Groups
12 x Runner-up Best in Groups
5 x Best Australian Bred in Shows
1 x Best Opposite Sex Australian Bred in Specialty Show
30 x Best Australian Bred in Groups
Whilst Jäger (Zuleika Gold Digger) lives in Melbourne, with his co-owner Stephanie Ives, and doesn't get shown often, he and I still managed a few 'hit outs' together.
His first trip back to Tasmania in March saw him take his first CC, over his dad...on the same day Benni had taken Best in Show!
From there we travelled together to Sydney Royal, where Jäger took Best Puppy of Breed and Final Four for Best Puppy in Group, on General Specials day. He received a lovely critique from judge Davor Javor (Croatia):
"Nice young male. Nice head. Excellent neck and topline. Well angulated. Moves well. Nice expression. Excellent coat and condition. Well done."
In June Jäger's co-owner, Stephanie, ventured into the ring herself, for the first time, to pilot him to Runner-up Best in Specialty Show, under breed specialist Wayne Sharp (Janoby) at the Finnish Lapphund Club of Victoria's Open Show.
It wasn't until October that Jäger got to visit Tassie again. But at nearly 18 months of age, he showed he is really starting to mature and blossom. At his first weekend out he took both Best Junior in Shows on offer, a Dog CC, BOB and Runner-up Best in Group (BIG2).
The following weekend saw the Tasmanian FCI show, where Jäger took the CACIB over his Supreme Champion father and uncle, going on to win Best in Group 4th (BIG4).
We then travelled to Victoria for the Finnish Lapphund Club of Victoria's Specialty Show, under breed specialist Elaine Short (Glenchess - UK). Jäger won Best Junior in Show, receiving a grading of 'Excellent' and a 'Champion Quality (CQ) certification.
So, for Jäger, 2019 saw:
1 x Runner-up Best in Specialty Show (Open Show)
2 x Best Junior in Show
1 x Best Junior in Specialty Show
1 x Best Opposite Sex Puppy in Specialty Show
1 x Runner-up Best in Group (BIG2)
1 x Best in Group 4th (BIG4)
1 x CACIB
I can not wait to see what we can do with this boy in 2020.
Fleur (Ch. Armahani Iolite Ilo (ai) HT) didn't really see the inside of the ring this year. But she did mother her second litter. Sired by Ch. Lempo The Great Gatsby, two boys will make their debut in 2020: Zuleika Le Bombe (Theo) and Zuleika Bombe Cerise (Mishka).
So I look forward to 2020 being the year that really puts our homebred Zuleika boys on the map.