A talented Oakhamian, along with her dog Tia, is celebrating having won a much-coveted place in the Crufts ‘Agility Dog of the Year’ Final!
Impressively, Tia is the first dog Clare has trained and after just two years she has reached a Final at Crufts. Inspired by watching Agility on the television, Clare thought that Tia, a three-year-old Cocker Spaniel, would be a good dog to train because “she’s always had a cheeky personality but is also obedient and quick.”
Clare has been able to use one of her School ‘Activities’ slots to pursue her interest in working with Tia - learning the skills of how to instruct and train her to take part in agility. In their first summer of competing, Clare and Tia took part in the UK’s largest agility show - the Kennel Club International Dog Agility Festival. “The event is really well recognised and whilst anyone can enter, we made it into the Main Ring - which was great!” explains Clare.
The dynamic duo then qualified for the Junior Round of ‘Agility Dog of the Year’ at Crufts – making it into the semi-final in the Young Kennel Club ring. She and Tia stormed the course to place in the top three and win a much-coveted spot in the Final. “The judge sets a course, and you get a ‘map’ to show you which way around it you’re supposed to go, and you are only allowed a short amount of time to walk it once before you compete,” explains Clare. “It was an amazing feeling to take part – as neither Tia nor I had been in an environment like it before - so for us to place in the Final was just incredible.”
It’s not just the experience of being in the Final of the world’s leading dog show, but the process of learning Agility that’s made a real impression on Clare. “You can’t get angry at a dog. They have good days and bad days, just like we do, and if they go wrong it is usually because of something you have done – so it teaches you a lot of patience.”
“Our congratulations go to Clare, and of course Tia, for their exceptional success at Crufts,” says Headmaster Nigel Lashbrook. “I believe their accolade may well be a first for Oakham – to have a student competing at such a high level in this field is yet another example of the sheer breadth of talent of our students. Our activities programme is designed to encourage interests and develop talents beyond the classroom. In Clare’s case, she has been able to use this time to develop her skills to the very highest level and the patience she has learnt will no doubt stand her in good stead for future challenges!”