Veteran of Veterans 2010

Before this year’s Easter we were very busy, we had two litters at home and a bunch that planned to go to the Grand Hotel in Stockholm to attend the Champions of Champions and Veterans of Veterans.
It was Berit (SE V-09 VEUW-08 VWW-08-09 KBHV-07 Verbanssg-02 BROV-02 Landes Sg-02 Bd(jgd)Sg-00 H(veteran)CH VDH(veteran)CH De(veteran)CH CIB DECH VDHCH SUCH DKUCH FIUCH Hardy-Flap´s When Trumpets Fade) who had qualified for the Veteran of Veterans. This was the second time in a row. In 2009, Berit became Best Veteran in both Malmö Int and Växjö Int and thus she was invited to this prestigious show. To be invited the dog has to become BIS-veteran at one of the Swedish Kennel Club shows during the year. We thought a lot before the decision to participate was made. Would we go there? It was short on time. In late 2009, we had been considering to stop showing Berit, because her coat condition.Age takes its toll as well, she’s had five litters with 6 pups in each, all in all 30 pups. It all took a big turn when we realized that the coat became much better during the rest period, and that it was the absolute last time the gala, Champion of Champions and Veterans of Veterans would be held. Then the decision was made and we ordered 11 tickets to the gala at the Grand Hotel, ten people from the south and one from the north. We planned to go there by train and once the tickets were booked we realized we had forgotten to book the dog compartment… Luckily it was possible to change two of the tickets! When it was time to go, it was unfortunately impossible for two people to attend, but a place could be filled with one of our puppy buyers friends from Stockholm. On the trip were Stig and Marita, Marita, Inger, Persson family and mom and me. Cattis had to stay home this time and look after the dogs, and she had the assistance of Ulla, who helped with puppy gang.
The journey began early on Easter morning from Malmö Central Station. The main character in question was calm and resting in her favorite pose, on her back with paws in the air. At noon, we arrived at Stockholm, and then we took a taxi to the hotel. It was a perfect place for dog owners, just beside the hotel there was a park. Once there, Berit and I strolled for a while and then we went to bed and rested so we would be prepared for the evening’s activities. The others went to the centre of the city and had lunch, baked potato. When it was time to set off in the evening, we were all dressed up to visit an event of this kind. Berit was ready and in a brilliant mood. The reception took place in the conservatory at the backside of the Grand hotel. It was full of both people and dogs. After I had gotten Berit’s number, I and Stig went up the stairs to the lounges on the second floor. In the room at the back there was plenty of room. Berit looked around and then went into her crate. Once we got down again, the inlet had begun. The others had already found our table and we had a perfect view of both the stage and the rest of the room. Before dinner there was a slide show on the big screen of all the Champions of Champions and Veterans of Veterans winners during the 28 years that have passed. The evening was coordinated by the famous Swedish judges Kennet Edh and Dan Ericsson, and they did a very good job.
When it was time for the appetizer the waiters came in and at a given signal they began to serve us, it felt very classy! The appetizer was a salmon dish with caviar and vegetables. For main course we had grilled veal tenderloin, mashed potatoes, bacon wrapped vegetables, homemade sausage and tarragon, served with wine, beer or water. All the guests enjoyed the dinner and we had a lot of fun. At our table we discussed all topics during the evening. It was a wonderful evening and it would be even better.
I had an incipient feeling in my gut. Probably due to an eager anticipation and nervousness. But, when I feel it – I usually have a really good show…
When it was time to serve the dessert, the entire room became dark. In darkness, the waiters came down a stone staircase carrying glass bombs with a fireworks torch in each. It was a wonderful creation with homemade vanilla ice cream with rhubarb sorbet and a meringue base.
When the dessert was done the stage lit up and Dan informed the participants that all veterans would make themselves prepared for the show. Stig came with me to help. A cheerful Berit met us. After a short time to prepare her, we went down to the others. 30 veterans had been entered. It was a big entry, and one could only hope for the best.
The judge was from Italy and unknown to us, Claudio de Giuliani. The contest was arranged as a match show, two dogs compete against each other and the winner advances to the next round.It wasn’t hard to find the place but it was crowded and still some distance to travel. We had to go through the hall, entrance and a corridor before one ended up in a small and totally black room and then out on the scene. The scene was located right in front of the audience. The hall was crammed full, the expectations were on top, and the headlights were directed straight towards the scene.
First time on the scene was just a brief check of the dog, stacking and movements. When it was time for us to board the ring, Berit came in with her eternally youthful charm. Wagging her tail, barking of happiness and sparkling eyes. She showed her very best, both standing and on the catwalk.
Then couple after couple entered the scene. We were the last group, and our competitor was a shih tzu. Later we found out that this Shih Tzu, had during the day won BOB at Stockholm International show. When the curtain was drawn aside and it was time to go in, Berit literally grew several centimeters. With an amazing charisma she showed herself on the stage. Applause, whistles and cheers were heard. We stacked our dogs and then walked with them back and forth. The dogs were judged on the table, and Berit stood like a statue. Once it was time to move she went off like a shot. When the judge decided he turned to the speaker and said quietly … Bichon!
Dan announced that Berit had won the first round and was on to the next one. This was just wonderful, she had now repeated the result from last year. We walked around the lounge towards the entrance where the gathering was. Stig was there and offered the lady water but she was totally uninterested and totally focused on what would happen next. Our next participant was a schnauzer, tails and ears docked originating from the United States. The dogs were judged and once again it was heard “Bichon,” and Berit won again.
The feeling in my gut would not go away and started to become more tangible. Maybe she had a chance to fight her way to the top, even if the competition seemed to be overpowering.
A Gordon setter was the next one for Berit to compete with. We went on to the stage. The crowd had begun to select their favorites and excitement was in the air. Little Berit stood and moved as a real lady, fast and agile in her movements with a youthful charm and charisma. The audience loved it, and the volume increased. The judged looked at the dogs and it was announced that the Bichon went on to the quarterfinals. Now it was really exciting. The sweat ran, the heart was pumping at a substantial rate and Berit was in a brilliant mood. During the evening reports had been made to Cattis via mobile, but it was later revealed that it had not worked properly! Towards the end of the quarter-and semifinals Mom had forgotten to end the call, so Cattis heard only when all the people screaming in the hall, but it was impossible to know what happened.
When it was time for the semifinals, it was near the boiling point, people stood up to see better, screamed and cheered for their favorites. A 11.5 year-old English cocker spaniel was ready. We went in and the same happened AGAIN. “Bichon PROCEEDS” was announced on the loudspeaker, I was overjoyed and Berit was happily barking by my side, it was time for the grand finale.We had to run fast with the officials cheering for us, to get to the starting point so there would be no delays. Now it was time, FINAL!
The skyterrier who was the other finalist was six months older than Berit, ie 11 years. It was the same dog that earlier in the day at Stockholm International show exhibition had become the best veteran! The room was black, sweat poured on the forehead and over the back. On the other side of the curtain, the audience stood up, eagerly cheering, clapping and shouting and with their cameras ready. Everything was black in the room except the scene that was illuminated by light. The judge was waiting for the dogs. The curtain was drawn aside, flooded with light. First up was Skye Terrier then Berit.
Berit moved across the floor with such a drive, grace and style and she received cheers and applause. The dogs were stacked. The judged checked them thoroughly once again, picked them up on the table once more for individual review. Finally they got to show their movemenst. Our Berit was more eager than ever and literally swept the floor. The dogs are on the scene. The people screaming and the judge announce his results to the speaker. The rosette, is given to … The speaker takes the floor. The winner of the Veterans of Veterans 2010 will be …..
“Bichon Frise !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Berit barks and is very happy, the audience literally explodes, photo flashes from all sides and the judge hands over the biggest rosette I’ve ever seen. With the prize  there was a champagne bottle, a big trophy, and a really nice chair from AGRIA with Veteran of Veterans 2010 embroidered on the back. Cattis becmae overjoyed when she finds out what happened. For a long time we stay on the scene and get photographed. We receive lots of congratulations and both Berit and I get lots of hugs after this fantastic win. To win in the last Champions of Champions and Veterans of Veterans, and also be the first and only Bichon Frise who has ever won this gala in Sweden, it feels great.
A fantastic experience which was incredibly fun to share with our friends and family. The rest of the evening I sat on the floor with Berit. Berit in her favorite position, lying on her back and stomach constantly petted. During the evening there were many who came both to congratulate and also to talk. Our little lady was really a popular winner this evening, with her youthful charm.
The winner of the Champions of Champions was last year’s winner, the amazing Old English Sheepdog Villa Cruella at Dizzny, owner Inger and Per Wallström, this was also one of the most winning dogs in Sweden last year. Judges for this show were Göran Bodegård, Kari Järvinen, Finland, and Carl-Johan Adlercreutz. To conclude the evening it was again time to gather at the podium to take some more photos with judges and officials.
When we got back to the hotel, it was not easy to sleep, but in the end I got a couple of hours sleep. Sunday morning it was time to take the train back to Sweden. Once there, we ended this amazing weekend by eating classic Danish pork which our good friend Ulla had prepared. Of course also Queen Berit joined in and enjoyed the party.

Stefan Harde

Photo, unless otherwise indicated Madeleine Persson.