An invitation to Judge the Heelwork To Music and Freestyle at the Nordic Championship Show to be held in Lillestrom, Norway arrived in September. Would I be willing to be Head Judge at this Show which was part of “Dogs 4 All”, held by the Norwegian Kennel Club? As well as HTM and Freestyle the show included the NKK’s International Championship Show, Norwegian Winner Show 2011, Norwegian Championship Show in Junior Handling, Agility and Obedience—over 5,700 dogs in total!
I accepted the invitation and set off for Norway on the 25th November accompanied by my sister, Kate.
A slight worry happened when we arrived at Manchester Airport and could not find our flight to Oslo on the departures board! We made enquiries at the information desk to be told that there were definitely no flights to Norway from Terminal 2, despite what it said on our e ticket!
We were told to try Terminals 1 or 3, a good job we had arrived early!
Fortunately we dragged our suitcases to Terminal 1 first and there was the flight clearly showing on the departures board—Phew!
Flying is often a real education isn’t it?
Safely on board we had a good flight to Oslo and a short train journey to Lillestrom.
We were welcomed at the hotel by the organisers of the show who had organised the hotel room for us.
In the evening we enjoyed a very good “informal” buffet where we met two of my co judges, Nina Haaland from Norway and Heidi Frederiksen from Denmark, as well as some of the other judges from other disciplines, agility and breed.
An early breakfast on Saturday and then we were escorted into the Arena where the show was being held. Our ring was in Hall B.
All 4 Nordic countries had sent teams to the competition, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway. We started with the Heelwork To Music Class. Routines which stood out for me, for various reasons, were Tanja Pekkalainen from Finland with her Golden Retriever, Daisy, dancing to “Musica Indigena”, Anja Christiansen from Denmark with Queeny, BC, dancing to the hauntingly lovely music “The Avatar Theme”, Helle Larssen and Littlethorn Avensis, BC welcoming everyone to the Cabaret and Emmy Simonsen with Whisper, BC who interpreted an interesting medley based around Apollo 13 in such a skilled way.
After lunch it was the turn of the Freestyle class. This class drew a large crowd of people to the ring, and often there were loud bursts of applause from the audience while the dogs were working, but they coped well with these demonstrations of appreciation! After all, this is a sport with spectator appeal and one of the criteria we judges were asked to note was “Show quality and audience appeal”.
Routines which stood out for me this time were Salla Haavisto from Finland with Loving You Lime, West Highland White Terrier and their routine to “Mission Impossible” a cheeky chap who ended up breaking into the safe to steal the sausages! Marianne Aas from Norway with her Australian shepherd complaining that “The Boy Does Nothing”, Emmy Simonsen and Biscuit, Shetland Sheepdog, asking that we “Don’t Tell Mama” to name but a few.
It was nice to see so many breeds taking part, in Heelwork there was 1 x Pug, 1 x Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, 1 x Golden Retriever, 2 x Australian Shepherds, 1 x Shih Tzu, 6 x Border Collies, 1 x Finnish Lapphund, 1 x Standard Poodle, 1 x Welsh Corgi, 1 x Doberman and 2 x Shetland Sheepdogs. Freestyle sported, 1 x Golden Retriever, 1 x Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, 4 x Australian Shepherds, 3 x Border Collies, 1 x Schnauzer, 2 x West Highland White Terriers, 1 x Boxer, 1 x Pumi, 1 x Dachshund, 2 x Shetland Sheepdogs, 1 x Border Terrier, and 1 x Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.
I will be cautious and say truly a sport for most breeds.
At the end of the competition the handlers of the top 50% in both HTM and FS were called back into the ring and a draw made for the running order for the finals which would take place on the following day.
Then the competitors were called into the ring for the presentation of the Team awards.
In HTM 1st was Denmark, 2nd was Finland, 3rd was Sweden and 4th was Norway.
In FS 1st was Finland, 2nd was Sweden, 3rd was Denmark and 4th was Norway.
Back to the hotel for a rest before donning our finery for the formal dinner for the Judges, Stewards and Helpers at the show. What a meal! Norwegian Smoked Salmon for starters and Norwegian Reindeer fillets for main course! So, full of Norwegian goodness it was soon time for bed.
Sunday was another early start, breakfast and then back to the Arena for the Individual Finals which were to be held in the beautifully draped and decorated ring in Hall E.
The Judges today were Heidi Frederiksen again, myself and a new judge, Carola Brusevold from Norway, and what a completion it was! The handlers really pulled out all the stops and performed brilliantly.
Heelwork To Music Nordic Champion was Anja Chrisiansen and Queeny, from Denmark.
Freestyle Nordic Champion was Sini Eriksson and Sonic from Finland.
With the competition over we took the opportunity to walk around the town before it got too dark. Lillestrom is a mixture of the traditional and the modern. A little history; The meaning of the name is “the little/lille (part of) Strøm” – and Strøm is the name of an old and large farm Straumr). The name is identical with the word straumr meaning “stream (in a river)”.
Lillestrøm’s history dates back to the times river powered sawmills came into use for the production of building materials. Later Lillestrøm got its own steam sawmill which laid the base for the development of the area which became the town. The area was, by and large, a moss covered swamp-like area, at the time considered almost uninhabitable. However, the almost non-existent property values were judged to be a fair exchange and so the workers started living and settling in the area around the sawmill, and Lillestrøm was born.
An amazing sight was at the side of the river which flows through the town. One of Jonathan Borofsky’s “Hammering Man” Sculptures rises up against the skyline. 21 metres tall, painted steel, a permanent installation. The Hammering Man is just one of Borofsky’s sculptures, other outdoor Hammering Men are in Seoul, Los Angeles, Dallas, Basel and Seattle.
The Hammering Man is a symbol for the worker in all of us. The motorized arm of the hammering man continuously swings its hammer back and forth – from the mind to the hand and back again.
Monday morning was time to fly home and look forward to seeing Roger and my dogs again, it did feel strange to be at a big dog show without a dog!
So, no snow, which was a little disappointing—that was due the following week—but a lovely experience. I hope I am invited to Judge the Nordic Champs again!
By Lesley Neville, England