Showing off

Derryn De Carteret, local dog enthusiast and owner of pet food business Raw to Paw, talks to Jo Le Page about the Guernsey Kennel Club and her own experience of dog ownership and shows...

What can you tell us about the Guernsey Kennel Club?

The Guernsey Dog Club, as it was originally known, was founded in 1901. It maintains its own registration department and holds a reciprocal agreement with the Kennel Club.

In November 2005 the club’s name was changed to the Guernsey Kennel Club to reflect its long-held status as a kennel club in its own right. The aim of the club is to promote the general improvement of dogs and dog shows.

Shows are judged under the seven group system and breed standards set down by the Kennel Club are recognised. Judges from the UK are approved and appointed by the Guernsey Kennel Club Committee.

The year starts with a members’ show in February, followed by three open shows – in May, September and October. These are open to Channel Islands exhibitors only. The seven Group Winners, Best Puppy in Show, Reserve Best Puppy in Show, Best Junior in Show and Best Veteran in Show from the open shows qualify for Crufts the following year.

How did you get involved with showing dogs?

I first became involved with dog showing when I went along to a Guernsey Kennel Club Show (it was called the Guernsey Dog Club back then) helping a friend of the family with her cocker spaniels.

I started handling for her and learnt how to trim and present them for the show ring.

It was from then that my love of cocker spaniels developed and I had my very first dog, a cocker spaniel called Sebastian, in August 1997. He was an orange roan, a little on the big side when I look back but he was my first ever dog so I loved him to bits.

We didn’t do too badly and he won a few classes.

If anyone reading this is interested, how could they get involved in showing their dog at the GKC?

If you love everything about your dog, which must be a pedigree dog and classified as such under the UK Kennel Club Breed Standards, then pop along to ringcraft, which is specific training on how to show and handle your dog for a show. These are run on a Sunday afternoon at the Vale douzaine room, 2.30pm for puppies (under 12 months) and 3.30pm for adult dogs (over 12 months). You must bring proof of vaccination and if you both enjoy it, your dog will need to be registered with the Guernsey Kennel Club.

Tell us about dog showing and your experience of showing further afield than Guernsey

Up until this year I used to travel regularly to Jersey to compete, which would be up to four times a year, but unfortunately this year this has not been possible with the schedule that Condor Ferries has put out.

Up until a few years back during the summer months we could go down in the morning, leaving Guernsey around 7am and returning the same day. Even with an overnight stay it was still affordable, but unfortunately this year you are looking at two or three nights’ accommodation.

We have made the most of being able to travel this year though and have been over to the UK with friends competing at championship dog shows, where you can qualify for Crufts in your breed classes, so competing against cocker spaniels of similar ages. This is a lot of driving and travel but with good friends we have had a blast.

What breed of dogs do you own and what drew you to that breed?

Cocker spaniels currently and I did have a beautiful English springer spaniel until he passed over to Rainbow Bridge in October 2019.

I’ve had cocker spaniels since 1997 due to the family friend and absolutely adore them – they are a perfect size, not too big and not too small. They love going for long walks, or having a mooch around the beach or the islands at Bordeaux.

I love getting them ready for a show – you start off with a hairy mammoth and when you’ve finished you have this beautiful sleek dog with the long feathering, long ears and lovely tight feet.

The soft, melting expression of a cocker spaniel is just so enchanting I’ve got three. With the English springer spaniel I wanted something a little bigger than a cocker and my boy Oliver was fantastic – so gentle, loving and a true showman.

How has being involved with dogs and dog shows been therapeutic for you and how do you think it would benefit other dog owners?

During lockdown it was so nice to be able to go out and walk for your allocated time with your dogs and of course working at home, they were always there so you had the company. Dog show people are quite mad – we get up at silly o’clock, travel miles and miles with our dogs, spend hours bathing, grooming and trimming them, all for a bit of card and, if we are very lucky, a rosette.

The friends you make all share the same views as you so you can go out for a meal and talk dogs all night. We are a bit dog crazy, some might say.

Have you any fun stories to share about your pets?

Freddie when he was a puppy shredded £50 in notes. I had put it to the side as my uncle wanted me to get some T-shirts etc. in the UK when I was over. The wind blew the money onto the floor, where Freddie got hold of it and shredded it to pieces. A friend and I spent hours trying to piece it all back together again.

Alice and Norah at their second time being shown as a brace (this means that you show them both together) at a recent championship show in the UK were acting like a pair of clowns to start with but soon got their act together and won a lovely fifth place out of a class of 22.

What are your hopes for the future?

My biggest hope for the future is to finally breed a puppy of my own and do well with him/her in the show ring. This is still my biggest dream, which up until now I have not fulfilled.

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