Going Dutch – Ray Owen

The meaning of this English ‘saying’ is sharing and could easily be the password for the Euro Show. A yearly gathering of OES enthusiasts from all over the world, who share their knowledge and love for a special breed of dog.

This year, 2013, the venue was hosted by the Netherlands, or Holland or the Low Country, so good they named it thrice. The OESN Club had invited me to judge and I, in turn, invited Ronnie Burns to be my co-judge. I get this honour by way of judging Crufts next year, 2014, and this format was determined by the Euro Show committee. My co-judge would be officiating over the baby puppies, puppies, juniors, intermediates and veterans a total of 80, the exact limit for a day under FCI rules. I had to judge the remaining 86 in open, champion and breeders classes, and couples and groups.

The flight from Stansted to Amsterdam was only 40 minutes in the air but from Essex to Oosterbeek in central Holland was about 7 hours. The Hotel Bilderberg was impressive and the site of the show ground on the lawns in front and the camper vans in a parking area behind the hotel was also a master stroke. Keeping all the 300 participants from 20 countries in one area gives a ‘family gathering’ flavour to the event, with old friends able to meet up at breakfast and in the bar and be sociable.

The first evening is free to do as you wish and all the early arrivals ate together in the ‘top-rated’ restaurant, although being a Bank Holiday in Holland the service left much to be desired taking over 2 hours to serve one course, but we chatted and the time passed by. The breakfast on Friday morning was superb and we registered at the Euro desk collecting a bag of dog treats and toys etc. The programme listed a golf tournament but the response was poor so it never took place, a shame as this was a first time cancellation. I usually play but like Barbara Mueller, one of the stalwarts on the Euro show committee, I was judging and missed out. The sightseeing trip was amazing, a Guppy bus took a group to the open air museum nearby, showing the history of life in Holland, the houses, windmills, trams and all set in wonderful parkland with amusements, cafes and excellent displays. We ate our lunch then left in the bus for the seminar back at the hotel. This year the topic was ‘In breeding’, and a good crowd enjoyed the presentation. The buffet on Friday evening was excellent, so many dishes of meat, fish, pasta, salads and all looking so appetising. The idea of including 4 drinks by way of tokens was a huge success and worked well and kept the wine flowing and the waiters were kept busy.

The morning of the show dawned bright but cloudy. The large tent on the lawns was dark inside and the show management listened to my plea for more light and the removal of the side panels helped a little. The decision to judge inside was proved right when the heavens opened just after the opening ceremony The balloons went up and the rain came down and the ‘tent city’ that surrounded the marquee was deluged and the exhibitors struggled to keep their dogs dry for the ring. The judging area in the centre of the big tent was very dark during the storm but my eyes grew accustomed to the poor visibility and care was taken to assess eye colour as I dictated my critique to the excellent ring steward Pamela Runderkamp, herself a judge of OES, so well used to the terms and phrases we use for this excellent FCI system of judging. An entry of 176 from 166 dogs takes a lot of time to sort out and go over. The opening ceremony was delayed as the ring stewards were lost in their car, their sat navs taking them to an old peoples home nearby. I am saying nothing!!

Lunch was taken at 12 noon as we had kept good time and the hours break left people to browse the stalls and buy all sorts of doggy related items. Lunch was again, a treat, they know how to cater in Holland. The afternoon session was for the bitches then at 4 o/c I started the couples class and the group class. Then came Best Dog, a wonderful line up of the winners from both rings and a delight to see a whole range of ages from a few months to 10 years old. The standard had been high all day with only 10 dogs absent and I found my winner in the hugely impressive and upstanding Hungarian male, Champion Bottom Shaker My Secret with the reserve from Germany/Holland, Champion Sweet Expression’s Meet & Greet. Then came the bitches, another line up of top quality OES and topping them all was the German/Swiss combination Champion Argovian Jump N Jive at Klit-Lys and the reserve was the novice from Denmark, Grizzly Dream Blaze of Glory. So the scene was set for a decision between a delightful ‘pigeon pair’, the male tall and elegant standing four-square and a mature bitch in full, harsh coat with a break, both with swan like necks and the required rise to loin, both could move like a true Bobtail and so effortlessly, both expertly handled and presented, a joy to behold, I asked myself the usual question, which one would you take home?, only one, you cannot have both, then I was asked to say a few words on the microphone to announce my decision, I handed the title to the best on the day, the bitch, then there was an explosion of noise as the whole tent went up with cheering and clapping as the lady handler/breeder who is so often the bridesmaid became a bride, at last, at the Euro show.

I did something I have never done before when judging, I cried!! I was so moved at the reception and the emotion of the handler and her supporters that my feelings welled up inside me. A moment I will savour for ever.
There were a few more details to wrap up and then we were free to enjoy the Gala dinner and dancing to the early hours. The presentation to the winner by the Great ‘Danes’ to the tune of Fly Baby Fly is a tradition and is at the heart of the festivities. The photos can never do justice to this great event, if only we could bottle the atmosphere of the 3 days, it would be priceless. It was announced at the drinks reception before the dinner that the following years Euro show, 2015, will be held in Denmark after France in 2014. Now the Danes do know how to party, I hope the French can match this years’ event, a big act to follow, but we will all turn up determined to make it a success as we do every year. Long live the Euro Show and well done the Dutch, thanks for sharing.

Ray Owen, Judge and proud Silver Pin owner.

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