Overcoming Ad(der)versity

Sherman The story of a Basset Hound puppy's recovery from a snake bite and qualification for Crufts.

I have visited Crufts many times over the last decade. It was around 9 years ago, after watching the Basset Hound judging, that I decided I would like to add to my bucket list that one day I would have a Basset Hound that was suitable for showing and would go on to compete at Crufts.

In 2022 my chance came when our little Shermanator (aka Sherman Augustus) arrived home as a bouncy 8-week-old puppy. I might be a bit biased, but he really was a handsome little guy. Everyone commented on just how well constructed and attractive he was to the eye, so I thought to myself, you know what we could be on to something here, and I enrolled us both in Ringcraft Classes to start in January 2023.

Well, suffice to say, he was not a "natural" show dog! He was not even slightly interested in doing anything at all that I asked him to. Our first "match" night at Ringcraft was not exactly a highlight, but being a young puppy, they are given a certain amount of leeway for not doing as they are told.

Nevertheless, we carried on each Monday night attending Ringcraft sessions, and each week I had a battle on my hands to get him to even walk up and down the mat without trying to eat my shoelaces or trousers. I very quickly learnt not to wear any boots with tassels or extremely long laces because it was just too much of a temptation for him. I must admit at one point, after about 3 weeks, I did think maybe this just is not going to work. Perhaps he is just not meant to be a "show" dog.

However, our next Match Night at Ringcraft a month later was marginally better, in that at least he did actually walk in a straight line without trying to eat me! So, we continued.

I decided mid-March to enter our first "proper" show, a Premier Open show at Ardingly showground which was our most local event. So off we headed on the 18th of March in the pouring rain. When we arrived, I walked into the barn where the show was being held and it was a hive of activity, people everywhere with cages and cages of dogs, or dogs on top of grooming tables being combed to within an inch of their lives.

I walked in with my little Basset puppy in tow with just a rucksack containing both our lunches. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing! I did however remember to take a fold up chair (on advice from a friend) and found a spot beside one of the rings where Sherman and I took up camp. I had arrived at the show about 4 hours too early, so we had a lot of waiting and watching to do, but I had hoped I could at least pick up on what everyone else was doing.

Finally, it was our call to the ring where Sherman was in fact the only puppy in his class. We had a lovely patient male judge who I explained to that this was our first show and we were both very nervous and complete novices. Sherman amazingly actually stacked really well and let the judge go all over him nose to tail. He was awarded Best Puppy in Breed (yes, he was the only entry, but I was reliably informed the Judge does not have to award it if he does not think the entrant is worthy). So now we wait until the end of the group judging to wait for Best Puppy in Show.

Well by this time, Sherman (and me) are absolutely exhausted. Although when we were finally called into the ring, he did move pretty well and stacked as I asked him to, so for that I was truly grateful. Sadly, it was not his day, and we were not placed so we headed off home. A very long day but proud of him, nonetheless. 

We continue with our weekly Ringcraft classes, and I start to think, maybe, just maybe there is a possibility he could have something. Especially when I received the critique from our judge the week later and it was so complimentary about him.I decided to enter yet another open show at Ardingly the following month. However, there are no Basset classes, so I just enter him into AV Hound (Any Variety).

Fast forward to the 8th of April and again we pitch up at Ardingly but this time I am much more relaxed about it as I have the attitude this is just ring practice; he is not going to get anywhere against a load of other different Hound breeds. We arrive around 11am and are only waiting half an hour or so before going into the ring. Again, Sherman is the only puppy in his class, but we have a lovely lady judge who really seems to like him. He is awarded Best Puppy in Breed and again we wait for the group judging. I am still thinking at this point, this is just good ring practice and nothing more will come of it.

Thankfully we did not have to wait too long, only another hour or two and we were back in the ring with around 8 or 9 other breeds to wait for Best Puppy (Group 1) in AV Hound. Sherman is an absolute star, moves well, stands well and stacks like a pro. As we have the same lady judge as our class, he is a "seen" dog, so she does not have to go over him again. Well, we are standing in the line, and I am just thinking, this is all good practice and then I could not believe my ears when she calls out "Best Puppy in Group goes to………. the Basset Hound"! I look around thinking she must mean the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen that is in the ring with us but no she means Sherman! A friend from Ringcraft classes is cheering by the side of the ring "yay Sherman!". In utter disbelief I move towards the Judge and accept his big red rosette! The other competitors are busy congratulating me and I still cannot believe it. Has this just happened? Has he just won the group? I started to get a little emotional and explain to the judge, this was only his 2nd ever show……. he is only 8 months old! She puts her arm around me and says, "he is a beautiful Basset Hound, I could not not give it to him, now go and win Best Puppy in Show"!

So, we wait, again, what seems like an eternity, probably around 2-3 hours. Sherman is absolutely exhausted, a couple of lovely ladies who are sitting near us with Whippets who won the Veteran class are waiting for the final judging too explain to me that I really need to get him a travel crate to have by the side of the ring. Somewhere he can go and have a little sleep, his lunch etc. It is such a long, long day for him it is no wonder he is utterly exhausted.

Finally, our time comes to go in the ring for Best Puppy in Show judging. I am not sure what has got into him, whether its adrenaline or the sand under his feet but he is bouncing around the ring like a mad thing! That said, he does stack well and does not move too badly. In the final line-up as the judge is walking down, he starts to get really fidgety and is not holding his head up at all. We were not placed but as I move to shake the Judge's hand, he says "keep on with him, he is a beautiful boy". I walk off feeling really proud. Our group judge catches me on the way out of the ring and she tells me that I need to change the lead I am using because she said as the Judge walked past he dipped his head down and if I had managed to keep it up and him still, he would have been placed she was sure of it. 

Anyway, fast forward another couple of months' worth of weekly Ringcraft classes and another open show at Ardingly where he was placed 4th out of 6 in the Junior Class. I raise the stakes somewhat and decide to enter him into his first Championship Show at Bath for the end of May. He is just entered into the one class of puppy.

The day arrives, a warm one, 5.30am Sunday morning and we were already on the road. We are travelling in convoy with a couple of friends of mine who are showing their Petit Basset Griffon Vendeens. We arrive at the showground and collect our catalogue. By now, I have this show thing licked. I have got myself a little trolley which has a fold up chair, Sherman's travel crate, our lunches, drinks and his show lead and bits and pieces, everything! However, this show is not only our first Champ show, but it is also the first one we have attended which is benched. I was not sure what this meant, but basically it means behind each ring is a run of benches where your show numbers are. These benches are just like wooden compartments where you tie your dogs to. I decided to just put Sherman's crate in his bench and park my trolley up alongside it.

Suddenly as we are waiting to go in the ring, I get a real attack of nerves. My friend gives me some Rescue Remedy, so I spray a little onto my tongue and also gave Sherman a bit too.

We go into the ring and yet again, he is the only puppy dog in his class. The male judge is so kind and I explained it is our first Champ Show and we are both very nervous to which he says, "I think the dog is fine, it is the Handler who is nervous". He is not wrong there. He tells us to move around the ring in his words "at your normal walking pace". Off we set and do a lap of the ring. I can feel so many pairs of eyes in my back as we move around as there are a lot of people watching us not just the other exhibitors but lots of spectators. As we arrive back at the judge, he gesticulates for Sherman to walk up the ramp. This is his first experience of being stacked on a ramp and he wants to stop at the bottom to have a sniff of the previous puppy who was on it and decided to take a pee! I pull him up onto the ramp and the judge starts to go over him. He explains to me where I should be standing whilst he is going over him and what will happen after we have been judged. As I said, such a kind man. He tells me not to be nervous as every person behind me has been in my position before.

He awards Sherman Best Puppy which again, I am told he does not have to do especially as this now means as he has won his class he has qualified for next year's Crufts! Judges would not give out those awards as they do not want bad examples going through to the World's biggest dog show.

I cannot tell you how over the moon I was, this was everything I had wanted when this all started, and it was actually happening. I was taking my little puppy to Crufts! We had a special Rosette made with his pedigree name printed on it. This may well be the only ever time this happens, I was making the most of it. 

A few days later, he qualified yet again at Southern Counties Championship Show in Reading. The boy was on fire! He seemed to really enjoy getting to spend the day with me too. Admittedly at times, he was still a little resistant to doing anything I asked but we had been drawn in. We had had a couple of wins and were starting to like the idea of coming home with rosettes. So, we entered Windsor at the beginning of July. Not only another Champ show but 2 shows in one day as it was in conjunction with the South of England Basset Hound Club Show in the afternoon.

This time, it was a family affair as his Dad and 2 elderly Basset sisters also came along for the day out. We had yet another early start and almost a 2-hour drive. Pitched our spot with a picnic and we were set. We had to wait quite a while to be judged because we were in the ring after all the Poodles so that judging took a long time. However, at this show we saw Sherman's Doggy Dad Bradley. Definitely a family affair!

Sherman was 2nd in both classes I had entered him in which again meant qualification for Crufts. At the Basset Hound Club show in the afternoon, he won Best Puppy in the class, and I was so pleased with how he stood, stacked and moved. I literally could not ask anymore of him, he was still after all, only 10 months old. 

After Windsor, our next show was not until the 6th of August, and this was a special one. It was the Basset Hound Club Championship Show and it was also one where we were having a family reunion as not only was Sherman's dad Bradley going but his mum Greta and sister Blossom were also entered. We were planning on having a lovely family photo of the 4 of them.

Saturday 29th July, like any other Saturday really, we had taken the dogs for a walk over to our local field. Sherman had disappeared in the long grass; we called him, and he appeared but let out a big cry as he did so. I checked him over but mostly his paws as I thought he may have stepped on a bee or something but could not see anything. We carried on our walk, and he seemed fine. We got home, he had a treat and was his usual self.

2 hours later, he was violently sick. Cleaned him up, left him alone and he seemed fine and indeed an hour or so later, he ate his dinner, kept it all down and seemed back to his usual self.

That evening, we walked him down to the seafront as there was fireworks display at the end of the pier. He was enjoying mingling around the crowd, getting fuss from just about everyone and seemed his usual self. Put him to bed when we got home and thought no more of it.

The following morning, he refused to eat his breakfast. Now anyone who knows Bassets knows that this is cause for concern. They have to be really bad if they are refusing food! He was sick again and did not seem to be able to keep anything down. I was due to go out that morning but decided I would stay at home with him instead. It was a rainy day anyway and I just wanted to keep my eye on him.

Still, he was not eating and managing to keep anything down and I was growing concerned especially as he was even unable to keep water down. It just came straight back up again.

That afternoon, he did manage to eat a biscuit or two and was just really sleepy but seemed to be settling down. He ate a tiny bit of his evening meal and managed to keep that down. Then just as we were about to go to bed, he threw up violently. I felt too worried to just put him to bed, so we made the decision to call the emergency vet. They told us to bring him down but that we would be seen on a triage basis and would just have to wait our turn. So off we trundle putting him in the back of the car and setting off.

11pm and we are at the emergency vets. There is someone in with the vet and another person in the waiting room. We ask how long they have been waiting and they said around 2 hours! Sherman has perked up at this point and is behaving like nothing is wrong with him. The Receptionist takes our details and asks us to wait. Well Sherman is wanting to play with the other dog in the waiting room and is making us look like total neurotic frauds as it appears nothing wrong. We make the decision to not wait to see the emergency vet and take him home and make an appointment to see our own vet first thing on the Monday morning.

Monday arrives, still he is refusing to eat and being sick although he has not been sick overnight, he slept the whole night. We go to our normal vet and are seen by one of the juniors. He is given an anti-sickness injection, and we are sent home. The vet says it will take approximately 2 hours for the jab to kick in and for him to have an appetite! Not likely, within minutes of getting in the door, he is wolfing down his breakfast that he had earlier refused! Manages to keep it all down and he seems back to his usual self.

Tuesday, he is fine, eating and drinking but does now have understandably a touch of diarrhoea. We go for a walk Tuesday lunchtime as we always do, and he is running around with the other dogs as if nothing has happened. We get home and he refuses a treat…………. this is not like him, so I just keep an eye on him. Wednesday he is seemingly ok, but I am growing concerned about his diarrhoea. I warn his Breeder that we are unlikely to be able to make the show on Sunday unless he drastically improves. We are both gutted and just hope, this bug whatever it is passes.

On Thursday, my concerns are heightened even more as now not only is he still being sick, but he is literally pooping liquid blood. I decide to take him back to the vets.

We see another junior vet who floats the idea that he could have Giardia. I had never heard of it before but apparently it is a parasite, and it is extremely hard to get rid of. She says they would normally give Panacure granules for that, but they have not got enough in stock for a dog his size. She advises just to keep an eye on it but the fact his temperature is OK, he has not got a fever or any other symptoms she is not overly concerned.

The following day I decide to go and buy some Panacure Granules from the local pet shop and give these to Sherman with his evening meal. However, that lunchtime I had taken him and his 2 Basset sisters for their walk. Today, I had decided to go for a walk along the Ferring Rife. It is a beautiful day, and it is such a lovely walk along the river, one that we have done many many times before. Sherman was having a whale of a time running around with other dogs. Running in and out of the long grass on the side of the riverbank. He even went in the river for a little dip which was very unlike him, he is not really a fan of water!

All that afternoon, he seemed absolutely fine, his usual self. His sickness had stopped, his diarrhoea was less, and I started to think, he may be OK to go to the show on Sunday.

That Friday evening, I was just about to go out as Sherman's Dad came in and he said, "how has he been today?". I shout down from upstairs "fine, he has actually had almost a solid poo!". "That is good" he says then I hear "oh but that is not good!......have you seen this?".I rush downstairs and he points at his testicles "what on earth is that about?" he says. Oh my god I have literally seen nothing like it, they were like 3 times the size they should be and had merged into one and looked like a grapefruit! "Right, I had better get him straight down the Vet again" says his dad. So off they go.

He sees our usual Vet and the owner of our local practice………he is absolutely stumped as to what it is. Sherman has to have an ultrasound but there is no sign of an infection, and the blood is flowing freely through his testicles. Our Vet explains he will have to treat it as an allergic reaction to something and gives him a Piriton antihistamine. We are told that if it worsens, he will need to be referred to a specialist at Anderson Moores in Winchester. So, our trip to St. Albans to the Basset show is definitely not happening now.

The following morning, they seem to have gone down a little, not much, but a little and we continue on the Vet's advice to give him paracetamol for the pain and Piriton for the allergy but at this point, we still do not know if it is an allergic reaction and to what.

Sunday morning comes around, Sherman has a lump appear on his side underneath his front leg, it's like a fluid lump, then another appears on his head, and it is almost like they are appearing before our eyes. We call the vets and rush him down as an emergency. We see the Junior Vet on duty, and he is given a steroid injection as she suspects it is a severe allergic reaction to something. She takes blood tests and explains he will need to come back on Monday morning so they can do a lungworm test.

Monday morning, lungworm test is done, and it is negative. We are told to just keep an eye on him and hope the testicles continue to shrink back and if not by the end of the week he will need to be referred.

Sherman is fine Tuesday, he is running around again, playing, eating, his pooping is back to normal, and my old puppy seems to have returned. Apart from the fact his testicles are still large they are nowhere near as bad as they were at the weekend.

Wednesday morning is a different story. He has been licking at himself while I was working and when I have taken him on his lunchtime walk, he is really not himself. We bump into my Aunty who we usually see, and she says, "what is wrong with Sherman, he does not seem right?" I explain I think he has got an infection because he has been licking himself. He is looking really sorry for himself. I call the vets (my usual Vet is by this time on holiday). I said, "I think Sherman needs some antibiotics he has licked himself and made it sore, I am worried he has an infection". The Vets say come down to see the nurse where he will be fitted for a buster collar. We go to the vets and the nurse comes out with a buster collar. I ask if he can have some antibiotics because he had clearly got an infection. We go in to see the Vet on duty. It is the same vet we had seen on Sunday morning. She takes a look at him and agrees, he has a skin infection and prescribes him some antibiotics that must start tonight (Wednesday), and it is a 7-day course, but she asks for him to come back on Friday evening for a check before the weekend.

Thursday, he is miserable, it is blisteringly hot weather, he is wearing a buster collar, and he is on antibiotics.

Friday evening, we go to the vets as planned. I should say it is actually his first birthday today………. not exactly the way to spend your first birthday, is it?I am really not liking the look of his skin; it looks really sore, and the antibiotics do not seem to be working. We see the same vet, she says she will take him out the back, clean up the wound and book him in to see Iain the main Vet, when he is back on Monday. We are waiting in reception for quite a long time. She comes out to find us without Sherman and calls us in for "a word". She tells us that the infection is very severe and that they will have to take him in tomorrow (Saturday) where the Vet on duty will castrate him. Well as you can imagine, I am absolutely beside myself, I do not want him castrated, he cannot go to Crufts as a castrated dog. To which she says, "well you may not have a choice, he will die if you leave it". In my extremely emotional state, I walk out and call another local independent vet and ask if I can take Sherman for a second opinion. By this time, it is getting on for 7pm on a Friday evening but we drive him around 15 miles away to see an alternative vet.

On looking at him and taking bloods, this Vet suspects he could have what is known as Brucella. Something I'd never heard of but on looking this up, it is absolutely horrendous. A disease that has come across with all the Romanian and Greek Rescue dogs. There is no recovery from it, it is euthanasia for that dog and any other dog it has come into contact with. So, I am in danger here of not only losing my puppy but, my other 2 elderly dogs too. No Vet will even see a dog with suspected Brucella, let alone operate on it and we have to follow DEFRA protocols as it is such a highly contagious disease and it is zoonotic too which means me and my husband would need to be tested and treated for it if this was in fact what Sherman had. One of the symptoms of Brucella was swollen testicles.

So, he has the blood test, and, in the meantime, we are told to carry on with the antibiotics from our vet and keep the wound clean until such time as the blood results come back from the DEFRA government lab (this can take up to 21 days). I am absolutely beside myself with worry, do not get a wink of sleep that night at all.

Saturday morning and it is the day of some good friends of ours wedding anniversary party. There is absolutely no way that either of us are in a "party" mood so we reluctantly explain to them, we will not be able to make it.

That evening, I call the Vet we saw last night in a desperate attempt to try and get something stronger for Sherman. I am worrying myself sick now about what happens if this infection that I am so meticulously trying to keep clean with iodine and manuka honey works its way up into his organs. He could be dead before we get the results from the Brucella test. Rightly so, they push back to my regular vet and on Sunday morning, I call them to ask if we can have a stronger antibiotic that is more skin specific to try and kill the infection. By this time, the skin on Sherman's scrotum is absolutely black, it is splitting, and it stinks to high heaven. I am cleaning it 3 times a day with an iodine solution and manuka honey. He must be in absolute agony, but he is so good at letting me keep it clean. We start him on some stronger antibiotics and make an appointment to see Iain our regular vet the following evening as he is now returned from holiday. We have to make the appointment at the end of the day, and we must all wear PPE because there is still the risk of this Brucella hanging over us.

We walk into the surgery all masked up and Iain takes a look at the wound and says he suspects it is an Adder bite. He has seen something similar before where the skin has gone necrotic and has effectively died. He explains he must take Sherman into surgery tomorrow. He knows he is a show dog and how I really did not want him castrated. He will try and save his testicles if he has got enough good skin left to make a new bag after cutting away the dead skin and infection. He already knows the testicles themselves are OK because they were scanned last week.

Tuesday lunchtime and Sherman is taken in for surgery. Iain will call us once it is done and let us know whether he has managed to save his manhood or not. Obviously at this point, I just want my puppy back with or without testicles.

We get a call Tuesday afternoon he has managed to save them! He has had to have a much smaller bag but there was good skin underneath so my rigorous cleaning routine, obviously did some good.

We are to collect him at 6pm. So off we go. Out comes my little puppy, so dopey after all the drugs and anaesthetic. Iain shows us a photo he had taken on his phone after surgery and frankly it looks awful. My poor baby still has his manhood, but they are tucked right up inside now, and he has got a huge wound and stitches, looking like a zipper. Still, I am thankful he is still here and at this point, we still do not know if all of this is in vain because if the Brucella test comes back positive, we will have to have him, and the girls put to sleep.

Trying not to think about that too much and getting on with Sherman's operation recovery. I am now at the point where I think his showing career is at an end. He will never be the same and will never be accepted in the show ring as a good example of the breed.

Let's move on to the following Thursday (9 days after his operation) and just before the Bank Holiday weekend. A call from Iain to confirm that the Brucella test is in fact negative. The relief from that was somewhat overwhelming although if I am honest, it was a long shot that it was ever that. Iain also explains that he has had the results back from the laboratory where he had sent away the necrotic skin for analysis. There were several bacteria contained within it but one specifically that can only be found in the mouth of a reptile! There you have it, as he suspected a snake bite!

I have been walking down The Rife for the last 15 years or more, I have walked mine and numerous client dogs down there and never have I ever heard of snakes there. However, since this has come to light, I have now heard of at least 2 or 3 incidents of dogs being bitten by Adders down there and sadly not surviving. Which only reiterates my utter relief that Sherman is still with us today.

That Bank Holiday weekend, Sherman was entered in another show at Ardingly (I had entered before all this tragedy). I was not going to take him but some friends of ours were showing and they said to bring him along, it was a lovely day, just have a picnic with them. So, we decided to go. I went up to our Judge for the class Sherman should have been in and explained what had happened. I pointed him out (with the cone on) and said obviously I would withdraw him. The lovely judge told me to just let him have a go around the ring. She said if I thought he was up to it, let him have a go, she would not penalise him for trauma and obviously would not go anywhere near his wounds when going over him. So, he did, he went in the ring for the first time in over a month and he was a superstar! I mean do not get me wrong he did not move great but then that is no surprise considering he still had a lot of stitches! The Judge's critique afterwards though was just so kind and caring, it restored all my faith in the dog showing world and I am glad I decided to take him along. 

Tuesday evening after the Bank Holiday and we go back to see Iain for a check-up. He is given all clear and can now be free from the cone! The Vet is very happy with how it is healing and thinks the skin may stretch a little and in turn the testicles will drop slightly. That Thursday luncthime, we are taking our usual walk in the park and Sherman is enjoying his freedom from the cone of shame and busy running around as usual. It is a very rainy day, and our normally packed dog park is deserted. I can see the other side of the field just one other mad dog walker out in the rain with a Collie dog. We do our usual walk, and our paths cross in the bottom field. All seems fine, the dog's owner is walking ahead while his dog stops in amongst my pack with Sherman in the middle. All of a sudden, it attacks Sherman, and I can see him pinning him on the floor. Sherman gets up and I can see he has blood in his eye. I shout to the owner and explain his dog has injured Sherman's eye. I insist he gives me his details as I will need to take Sherman to the Vet yet again. I call the Vets immediately and have to take Sherman straight down to be admitted. He needs to have surgery to have his eyelid stitched as unfortunately the other dog has ripped it open. Can you believe this poor little dog's luck?

The following week we were due to be at the Hound Show at Hickstead. There were loads of our show friends there and we decided to go along for the picnic and socialness of it without stepping in the ring. Again, I approached the judge and explained Sherman would be withdrawing as he had not only had surgery following the snake bite, but he was now back in a cone and on antibiotics with the eye injury from the dog attack. She says, she would not penalise him for trauma injuries and that I should still let him go in the ring. I decide to go for it. He is so good, he lets her touch him all over, even his most sensitive area. To which she says, "I can still feel 2, he is OK". He does not win the class, but the Judge says to me, she really really likes him. She said she did not not award him first because of his trauma but only that he did not move overly well and under the circumstances that is no surprise but that she could not award him first because of that. Again, I am feeling so encouraged and faith restored in humanity once more.

No more shows now as we take our annual holiday and enjoy a lovely week in West Wales. On returning I decide that I am going to ask our Vet to give me a letter explaining what surgery Sherman has had and that he still is entire with two healthy testicles. I want this so that I can show to a judge before a dog show without the need for me to keep repeating myself. I also apply for a "permission to show" authority letter from the Kennel Club.

Beginning of October, during a very warm spell of weather we are off to Ardingly again where Sherman is now of the age to be entered in the "junior" classes not puppy. He is in the ring with one other competitor, a 6-month-old bitch puppy. Sherman is again a good boy, stacks well in front of the judge and moves fairly well around the sandy ring. When she calls him up to go over him, I explain to her about his trauma and subsequent surgery and she gets a bit snotty with me and says"have you got the letter?" to which I reply and go to get it out of my pocket and she just waves and says "no I do not need it as long as you have it" and she goes over him but does not even attempt to feel for his testicles. She gives him second place. I am a little miffed as I felt he moved and stood much better than the puppy he was up against but clearly, she took Umbridge to me telling her about his injury? The following week when I receive her critique I am absolutely fuming because she says, "I could not find this boys' testicles"! She did not even try!!

Anyway, onwards we go, and our next show is in Maidstone at the beginning of November. Again, just an open show where Sherman is in the Junior Class up against 4 other competitors. He is an absolute star today, he is moving really well, standing like a statue and actually lets the Judge go all over him while up the ramp. Again, I explain to her that I have 2 letters from my Vet and the Kennel Club, and I explain to her what has happened. She feels his testicles and says she can feel one, I explained there are two they are just not in the usual place. She asks us to move around the ring, which he does very well, and we re-join the line-up. Again, he is stacking beautifully she takes a while to make her decision and awards her first and second which I feel are fair then she moves away from us and surprise, surprise he comes 5th out of 5! As we come out of the ring, some of the spectators pull me to one side and say they think that Sherman was robbed, he deserved at least 3rd place out of that group. Ah well, that is the way it goes with dog showing, I guess.

On the way home from Maidstone, I am feeling really dejected and feeling that I am wasting my time. Also, it is not a cheap hobby to keep driving to all these dog shows all over the place plus the entry fees alone are of great expense in some cases. I have a very strong feeling that we should just call it a day after Crufts, get him there that is all I wanted in the first place whatever the results are but after that, we quit.

The following evening, we attend another Match Night at our local Ringcraft Group. Sherman is in the Yearling class up against 4 other dogs of differing breeds and ages. Again, he is a good boy, stacks well, moves well and as the Judge starts to go over him, I explain what has happened to him and that he still has two testicles. She is horrified that he has been through such an awful experience and says she will not go anywhere near him. I ask if she could because I want him to be used to being handled and so she says she can feel one and that he might still be OK to be used for breeding but says what a poor boy he is. Off we go around the ring and he moves really well.

Well, blow me down, she gives him 1st place in his group! I was absolutely blown away and after yesterday's palaver, needed that! 

At the end of the evening, we are in the line-up for Best in Match and again Sherman moves very well and stands like a good boy. The Judge is eyeing him up along with the Standard Wirehaired Dachshund who won the Open group. She awards 1st place to the Dachshund but Sherman gets Reserve Best in Match. As she is handing me his rosette, she says it was an extremely close call between 1st and 2nd and that if she could have given both 1st she would have!

As you can imagine, my faith has been somewhat restored and after chatting to a few other people at Ringcraft, they tell us not to quit, keep going with it. You cannot always win and that if Sherman and I enjoy it, just carry on.

So here we are, Crufts entries are now open, we have got a hotel in Birmingham booked for March and we are going. Come what may, we will be there, strutting on the hallowed green carpet at the World's biggest dog show. No matter what any of the results are, I want to experience it with Sherman. I want him to have an absolute blast. My first time showing at Crufts with my boy, the breed I have been so passionate about for such a very long time. 

Watch this space for what happens next in Sherman's Road to Crufts.

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