Sheffield’s top dogs are being groomed for glory as Crufts gets under way today at the NEC in Birmingham. Eagerly awaiting the latest of her many appearances at the prestigious competition is Jane Jacques, from Beighton, showing off her eight-year-old smooth fox terrier, Copper.
Jane, aged 63, will put Copper through his paces in his breed’s veteran class, under his show name Jacqspot Icefyre.
The retired teacher said she was excited about her pet’s prospects, having won best of breed in 1996 and ’97 with Copper’s father – Champion Mosvalley Helmsman of Jacqspot.
“They’re independent, feisty, fun and friendly, though they can be disobedient!” said Jane, who also owns 11-year-old fox terrier Mae.
“The judges will look at their ears, eyes and teeth, and the terriers need to move well. They’re supposed to be large enough to chase after foxes, but small enough to go to ground.
“They look at the overall animal, but sometimes the terriers have that spark, that ‘something else’.”
Copper gained entry to the four-day Kennel Club contest last year when he won his class at the Smooth Fox Terrier Association’s championship show in Staveley.
Jane, who used to teach English at Oakwood Comprehensive in Rotherham, has prepared for Crufts by cutting Copper’s fur to give him the terrier’s signature, smooth-coated look.
“They have to be trimmed and bathed the night before,” she said. “But he’s just a pet when he’s not being shown. He gets treated the same as any other dog – he gets taken for walks and likes to go down rabbit holes!”
Also heading for Birmingham is Linda Marsden, from Bradway, set to show 13-month-old English setter, Harry, in his breed’s ‘special puppy’ category.
Linda, 68, who is married to Terry, has owned setters for 35 years and is ‘excited but nervous’ about Crufts with Harry – show name Upperwood In The Groove.
The young dog has been preparing with ring training in Unstone and has already qualified for next year’s Crufts after gaining three firsts at the Matlock and District Canine Society show in Newark last month.
“It’s really very difficult to do,” said Linda, a former receptionist for British Coal, who keeps Harry as a family pet.
She said she favours English setters above other breeds as they are ‘lovely-natured dogs’.
“They just get into your soul and you have to keep having one. They are so loving – terribly difficult to bring up as pups, but once trained they’re a pleasure to own. They’re very mischievous.”
Both breeds are on the Kennel Club’s vulnerable list – which monitors varieties with fewer than 300 registrations a year and which are in danger of dying out.