Our journey to Crufts 23 started on the Saturday as we travelled up to the hotel in Birmingham. Surprising the journey was good and the dogs settled well. Trying to keep the dogs clean with the weather in March can be a pain, but luckily we managed to find a spot at the hotel that wasn’t too dirty. After their dinner and relaxation, the dogs settled down for a good night’s sleep before their big day. We were up bright and early, all be it not as early as we would’ve been is we had travelled up from the island that morning, and managed to make our way to the NEC.
Once we had parked up and completed the typical trek to the halls we managed to pitch up at our benches and start to prepare the dogs. Judging for the other breeds went quicker than we thought so luckily it was only 2pm ish when we went into the ring. It was nice to see some different dogs in the ring, especially from Europe, and a few dogs that we hadn’t seen in a while. Over the years, Cassie has always seemed to have a mixed bag of results as Crufts. I would always joke that she had a Crufts curse, however if she did she truly broke it this year. To our astonishment after a pawfect performance, Cassie (Donocielo Cassia) was awarded Best of Breed at the ripe age of 7 years. Both mum (Carol) and I were truly shocked that she had achieved this. Even though you always dream and think maybe this could be the year, you never truly believe that it will be.
To win BOB with Cassie was an immense moment of pride considering we not only own and handle Cassie, but also bred her, the first Crufts BOB like this for quite a while. It was so lovely to share this moment with Debbie T, Joy H and Melanie, whose dogs all have a connection to Cassie, however it was with sadness that dad (Dennis) couldn’t be their in person to celebrate this moment, as he was puppy sitting at home.
When you win BOB you always think that the job is done, but then you remember you have to go in the main ring for the Toy group. Due to the TV aspect of Crufts, the schedule for the groups is so rigid meaning immediately after Cassie had been awarded BOB, and we had taken the obligatory group photo, we rushed off to the main arena for the group. Being in the collecting area, waiting to go in the big ring, can be slightly overwhelming with the pictures, vet check, paperwork etc, however at the same time its interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes. I always vowed that I would never go in the main ring at Crufts and would make mum go in, however when it actually got to that point she gave me no option and told me I was going in. With some apprehension I did walk Cassie in to the big ring and to be honest it isn’t as bad as I thought. You never want to be the person with the dog who gets stage fright and lets down your breed, however as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels owner said to me before we went in the ring, you’ve already done the hard part so now just go out and enjoy it. Thankfully Cassie performed like a dream and shone under the bright lights. She honestly enjoyed her big 5 minutes of fame. This was our 11th year at Crufts, Cassie’s 6th, and you could not have asked for a more fairy-tale ending to Cassie’s Crufts career.
Becky Mulligan, Carol and Dennis Mulligan (Owner and Breeders of Donocielo Cassia)