WDS 2015 in Milano: looking behind the scene (Interview with the participant of the Best in Show of the FCI group 3, the breeder Yana Portunova)
We interviewed the contestant of the Wold Dog Show 2015 in Milan, the winner of the Club Show and the participant of the Best in Show of the FCI group 3 – Yana Portunova, the breeder of Norwich Terriers from Russia.
Yana, how long have you been breeding dogs?
In a dog world I am more than 30 years and for about 9 years I’ve been breeding Norwich Terriers.
How many dogs are in your Kennel “Iz Plushevich Snov” now?
Altogether I have 5 dogs: 2 Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers and three Norwich Terriers – Kamaz, his wife Nusha and their daughter Trisha. All these dogs live with me.
How did you prepare your dog for the WDS 2015 in Milan?
Four years ago Kamaz became the Best Puppy on WDS in France, and then we travelled to Salzburg for Junior World Champion title and successfully obtained it. And all the following years I dreamed about the World Champion title. Of course, you need to do a great job for that. This includes various different things like keeping your dog in a good physical form; fitness is a must as well as special exercises that suit my dog best, keeping the dog in a tonus, mastering your handling, visiting special master classes. In my zoo-center “Curly Life” (Kucheryavaya zizn) I invited experienced handlers from Europe who gave lectures and master classes. On our own (me and Kamaz), we work pretty well: he feels me, I feel him, and I know how to show him well. But handlers’ advices helped me a lot as they gave important tips how to show my dog better.
Before WDS in Milan we had a lot different victories. Last year and the year before last Kamaz became the European Champion, but until this year I could reach my main goal – the victory on the World Champion.
You also visited the Milan centre. How you find this city and was it difficult to travel there? We lived for far from the place where the Show was. So the main thing for us was to travel from our hotel to the Show Expo. In Milan we went in the evenings after all rings. We travelled there by car and even had an opportunity to park for free, as the Italians were so kind that explained us where we can place our car and where not. We were very pleased by their friendliness. The city is beautiful but we didn’t have a lot of time to walk around because first of all we came there for the Wold Dog Show. We planned our trip in such way that we came to Italy a little bit earlier and had an opportunity to visit Portofino. We relaxed a little, swam and visited Bergamo. It was my first trip to Italy and I liked it a lot.
What can you tell about judges? To begin with I went to the WDS 2015 with Kamaz (Ia Muzzy Iz Plushevich Snov) and his daughter Sochi (Chernoe More Iz Plushevich Snov) that lives in Riga. Her owner gave me Sochi a month before the Show and I prepared her together with Kamaz at my place, in Kaliningrad. I had a strong desire for Kamaz to become the World Champion. I dreamed that Sochi will get the Junior World Champion title but I didn’t hoped much for that. And I was very surprised. Every time in ring when I was granted the first place I had tears of happiness. The fact that Sochi also became the Junior World Champion is absolutely fantastic!
Now about judges. On the first day there was the Club Show and the judge was Phillips Martin from the United Kingdom. He is a terrier specialist and in this years’ Crufts he judged the Best in Show of the FCI group 3. So this judge is very demanding and it was very interesting how he will evaluate my dogs. In the Club Show participated 48 dogs and I am extremely happy that this was my dog (Kamaz) that obtained the Best of Breed (BOB).
It is also very important to mention the second judge. On the World Dog Show there were 63 Norwich Terriers 20 of which were in Junior class. The expert was Crawley Lesley the famous breeder of Norwich Terriers from England. She has been mastering this breed for more than 50 years. Of course, she has her own line, which is completely different from mine, and I was nervous how she will evaluate my dogs.
Where was more challenging – on a Club Show or in WDS rings?
The Club Show is a warm-up in some kind. Of course, I wanted to win in both Shows and I cannot tell that in one of them was easier and in the other more difficult. We worked hard on both competitions. But we came for the World Champion title so for me it was more important to win on the World Dog Show. This time in Italy there were certain rules (maybe they were on other WDS shows, I don’t know): when a dog wins in Champion class it cannot get the Italian Champion title. So to become the Italian Champion you need to register your dog to an Open class but as I wanted the World Champion title I registered Kamaz both times into the Champion class.
Did you know your main competitors?
When I come to a Show I take the catalogue and run through my dogs’ class but all the energy I turn to my dog trying not to think about the others. I concentrate on my dog exclusively. For me the main aim is to show my dog and not to watch how others show their dogs. In Junior class I had a competitor that surpassed me at the Club Show. When I came to the Junior ring on the WDS and saw that this dog is again in my class I hoped that I could take the second or the third place. I didn’t dream about being the first as this competitor was really strong. I don’t know why it was my dog Sochi that won... maybe because the judge liked the type of Kamaz and Sochi being his daughter has, of course, the same type. Maybe that was the reason why an expert chose her. In Junior class I saw competitors, but in other classes tried not to pay attention to them and concentrate on Kamaz only.
What qualities must a dog have to enter the Best in Show?
A dog must be spirited and passionate. It must love the Show. When me went with Kamaz outside to make some professional photos I couldn’t do it. He stood correctly but something was wrong. By when we went back to the pavilion and entered the ring he shook his body as he was saying “so, lets go”. So the dog must be a fighter. Kamaz loves the Best in Show, he dashes into the ring, he stays, he is not bored, he knows what to do and he loves applause. In Best in Show wins a dog that has a drive and makes an impression as this is a Show first of all. It must be a Show dog with ideal grooming, handling, and the dog and the handler must make such a duet that a judge will have no chance not to pay attention to them.
What does an owner feel when he or her enters the Best in Show?
First of all, I don’t remember my emotions when I was in a ring. Only a while after when I looked at pictures my friends made I saw and understood that I cried and that at some moment I threw myself on the judges’ shoulder and began to cry out of happiness. I told to myself in my head “I don’t believe, I don’t believe”. And then after the ring I was telling everybody that in English. There was a feeling that this was happening to somebody else like you are watching a film where by some reason you are playing the main role and you are looking at yourself through other persons’ eyes. So that’s what I felt.
And entering the Best in Show is like the final point, like we are telling, “Look at our job”, as this is really a hard work and every person and a dog that enter the BIS are hard-workers. Best in Show participants are people, who invested a lot in their dogs, who have contact with their dogs and who know what they can show. When you enter the BIS ring you feel that your work didn’t remain unnoticed. Everybody sees, everybody applauses, you are happy, you dog is happy like it wants to say, “Look what I’ve been doing for the last year! Hurrah! I am here!”
It is not your first experience of participating in such a big Show. The WDS 2015 in Milano had something that you remembered especially?
The organization was very good: there was no crowd, places for walking with dogs were very nice, everything was beautiful and what is the most important – there was an air conditioning inside the Expo. It was very good and dogs weren’t overheated in spite the fact that outside was really hot. So we weren’t’ worried for our dogs and they remained in a good form.
Also for dog owners there were comfortable conditions. When we visit a big Show like WDS or EDS I have my personal rule to come a day or two before the Show and visit it. I start from place where I stay to look how much time it will take to reach the place of the Show because there were incidents when people were late because of the traffic jam. On the WDS 2015 in Milan rings began at 9:30 a.m. and pavilions opened at 6 a.m. So we got up at 4 a.m. to be in time in spite that we lived only in 5 km from the Expo. When we came there was no traffic jam and so was during all three days. There were, of course 2-3 cars in front of us but you cannot call it traffic. For this a give a credit to organizers of this Show and it was really nice because when there is no rush before the ring and there is a possibility to come beforehand there is not tension. We came at 6 a.m., placed our things, found all rings and were not late.
Where their latecomers?
In our ring, no. But there were people who were late. However, that was their first Show and they simply didn’t know at what time it is better to come.
So the experience of participation in Shows is an important factor of the success?
Of course. For example, on this Show I also encountered the lack of experience. When it was time for me to enter the Best in Show for juniors of the Group 3 I saw that in the pre-ring are already coming participants of the adult BIS of the FCI group 3. At that moment I had to decide which dog I will exhibit myself and which one I will give to the handler because in pre-ring as a rule the judge already chooses dogs. So I gave Sochi to the handler and rushed to Kamaz to prepare him for BIS of the FCI 3. I saw afterword that more experienced participants, professional handlers, managed to show the dog in one pre-ring and then they ran and showed another dog in second pre-ring.
What are the main tendencies in a dog world today?
Concerning dogs or Dog Shows?
Both. As it seams to me today an important role play grooming, handling...
Grooming and handling were always important. Today the more attention is paid to making a Show. The dog that wins is not always the ideal one in terms of breeds’ standard. In Best in Show there are many conditionalities: the right handling, the judges’ mood, the light. More and more attention is paid to the handling. Professional handlers can show the dog better. Remembering that it is a Show everything is theatricalized, beautiful and a person who cannot show the dog properly will never win. So that’s the tendency.
Going to the dog breeding... Russia is very strong for today. We took a lot of BOBs (best of breeds) on this Show. And my dog Kamaz became the first Norwich Terrier from Russia that became the World Champion. And there were many such breeds. I can be proud and happy that in spite the fact that the Norwich Terrier is an English breed and in the show participated dogs from different countries it was a Russian dog that won. Two main titles – the World Champion and the Junior World Champion – obtained Russian dogs. This indicates that our breeders follow the right direction and develop constantly. As a terrier specialist I can say for sure that Terriers in Russia are very strong for now. When we were in Best in Show about 1/3 of all participants spoke Russian.