Puppy love as Sheila’s Australian terrier Sammy wins Crufts title

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She’s been showing at Crufts for three decades but the successes keep coming for Berwickshire trainer Sheila Stoddard.

Her Australian Terriers have won numerous titles over the past 30 years, including Best in Breed, and it was one of her youngest dogs Sammy who did the business at Birmingham NEC last weekend, winning Best Puppy.

But the victory might never have happened had it not been for the terrier’s original owner’s desire to be at the championships, which are the red carpet event of the canine calendar.

“I imported Sammy, or Jumpers Highness of Mill Valley, to give her her kennel name, from Germany.

“I was thinking of having a year off from Crufts this year but her breeder was adamant she wanted to go so Sammy qualified at the very last minute at the Ladies Kennel Association at the end of last year.”

And Sammy’s owner had a very worthwhile journey as at only eight months old and at her first ever Crufts, she impressed the judge enough to beat the other pretenders to the puppy crown.

“She wasn’t overawed by the occasion at all,” Sheila continued.

“She took it all in her stride which is amazing considering it was the first time she’d been at Crufts and only her third ever show.

“She did better than I thought she would.”

Sammy has success in her bloodline. Her great grandmother, Sam, or Dinky Di Southern Cross, to be more formal, won 22 challenge certificates by the age of five - a bitch record.

“She was the first American terrier win the terrier group at as major championships.

“She became rather famous, so much so that her obituary appeared in Dog World.

“I was just looking at a picture of Sam as a puppy the other day and Sammy looks a lot like her. I’m not sure just yet if she’ll be as good as her though.

Sammy wasn’t the only Australian terrier Sheila had in the ring on competition day.

Former winner Diva also made the journey down from Berwickshire.

At ten and a half years old she is a Crufts veteran and was the most qualified bitch in the breed, with 14 challenge certificates to her name.

Sheila correctly predicted Diva would place third this year and she was joined in the ring by Sheila’s American import Derby.

With three dogs to take down to Birmingham and show at Crufts last weekend was a long and tiring one for Sheila and she said she was particularly struck by how many people were there.

“When I went into the arena at 9.30 in the morning it was heaving and even though its a dog event people don’t automatically move out of your way when they see you’ve got dogs with you - it can get a bit stressful.

“And you never really relax during competition day. I’m always a bit on edge and there’s a lot of waiting around.

“That said, competing in shows in Scotland and northern England I’ve made a lot of friends and it’s always nice to see them.

“One of my long time rivals was actually the judge for the Australian Terriers this year but I think she was fair on the day.”

Some different terriers, Border terriers to be precise, went down to Crufts with the Lothian family from Cranshaws but unfortunately they didn’t pick up any rosettes.

Nevertheless, Kath said a great time was had by all and the four terriers did her proud.