From Marsh to Crufts – Dave Rigby and his Chesapeake Bay Retrievers

I’m one of the new probationary members of the club and a few of you might have seen me out with my two Chessies. These dogs are classed as rare breed in the UK, less than 100 puppies are registered with the kennel club each year, so with imports from USA and Europe that probably equates to around 1,500 dogs of the breed in the country in total, so when you compare that to 35,000 Labrador puppies registered each year no wonder they are classed as a rare breed.

Last year I was on a training weekend put on by my dogs breeder and it was suggested I should try showing the dogs as it’s a great way to promote the breed with the ‘discover dogs’ areas at country shows where people can come and meet the dogs. I decided to give it go and signed my dogs up to a few shows. The first show I attended, City of Birmingham dog show, I was definitely out of my comfort zone, I was the guy with no gear and no idea! Fortunately, my breeder was there and lent me benching chains and collars and show leads.

The second show was Driffield championship dog show, so as it was East Yorkshire and show day was Friday, I booked overnight accommodation just outside Driffield at a very nice pub with rooms and real ale. Fortunately, I has decided to arrive at the show early and did not hang around for breakfast as when I input the show ground postcode in my sat nav it told me I had a 60 mile drive to Ripon race course. With 90 minutes before the show started, that’ll teach me to read all the info properly. My older dog was placed 2nd in his category and my younger dog won best junior dog and got reserve Male for the breed. These placings were enough to qualify them both for Crufts. In the other shows we did we picked up mainly 2nd places.

So it was decision time; Crufts or the clubs end of season dinner. Crufts won that one even though it was a free dinner. But I then had to go cap in hand to my daughter and ask her to show the dogs for me as I had fallen down two stairs in mid-December and torn my quad tendon from my quad muscle and I was in a leg brace after a two hour operation and unable to run in the parade ring. Philippa agreed and we managed a fourth place in limit class for Trigger (older dog) with a reserve certificate and Gunnar was placed 5th in post grad class with a highly commended certificate.

So not a bad first outing at Crufts and it goes to show how versatile these Chesapeake’s are at home on the marsh or in the show ring and the great thing is, there’s not hours of grooming to prepare them just chuck them in some salty water to make their coats curl and give them a quick brush.

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