Image above: ‘The Rolling Bones’; Best in Show Chief, with owner Relphine
By Beccy Bollard
The Chiswick Dog Show returned on Sunday after its one year hiatus due to the pandemic, and what a return it was! With excited tails wagging and tongues lolling, dogs and their owners came from all around to Chiswick House and Gardens to compete in and watch fun-spirited contests, vying for titles such as ‘prettiest bitch’ and ‘waggiest tail.’
The theme this year commemorated the 50th anniversary of Glastonbury festival. Camper vans serving mac and cheese and classic burger stalls aptly recreated the festival feeling. The outfits, whether human or canine, didn’t disappoint. The ‘Fancy Dress Children + Dog’ competition in particular provided some great moments, notably the winners, the ‘Rolling Bones’, a Rock n’ Roll septet complete with instrument-laden dogs.
The atmosphere throughout the day was a poignant reminder of why events such as this have been so missed; supportive crowds cheered and laughed along with the competitors – even when things (as they inevitably do with dog contests) went wrong. As comedian Herbie, the presenter of many of the day’s contests, observed: sometimes it’s funnier that way.
As the three acts who competed in ‘My Dog’s Got Talent’ and tried and failed to flip a treat from their nose into their mouth will tell you, the crowd was behind them whether they succeeed or not. That particular contest, performed for celebrity judges Neil Dudgen of Midsomer Murders fame and Harriet Thorpe (known for her roles in Absolutely Fabulous and Mamma Mia), also presented one of the most archetypal “Chiswick” moments of the day: when a delightful dog named Ginny played fetch and caught the cork from a bottle of champagne popped by her owner.
Images above: Chief and Hope; Mark with his ‘dog’ Stanley
The competition for ‘Best in Show’ was fierce as usual, but the winners were the cocker spaniel Chief and his owner, 10 year-old Relphine.
At only 13 weeks old, Chief was a gift for her 10th birthday, and won the judges over with his laid-back charm and silky soft fur. When I spoke to Relphine and her mother Lulu after their win, with the sun symbolically illuminating the Dog Show for the first time that day, Lulu, tearing up slightly, told the Chiswick Calendar that this win was “exactly what [they] needed” after she sadly lost three of her businesses over the course of the pandemic.
Operating in the hospitality industry and owning a hotel, she was one of those hit the hardest by all the lockdowns. Chief and his twin sister (aptly named Hope) were bought to allow their family to focus their energy somewhere else rather than dwell on the negative.
Lulu even jokingly suggested that dog shows might be a “new business” venture for them. Their joy at their win, alongside the support from the crowd and the general atmosphere of the day, are a lovely reminder that bringing the community together (and doggies!) can provide us with some much-needed comfort after a tough year or so.
As always, the show owes its success to the volunteers who sign up to help. They ran it seamlessly and ensured the day was a success. A special shout out also goes to Mark who somehow managed to compete in the Best in Show competition with his ‘dog’ Stanley (constructed out of Wellington boots). He proudly showed me the ‘Well done!’ ribbon they received and truly proved that anyone, dog owner or not, can enjoy the Chiswick Dog Show!
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