Having triumphed as winner of the 2014 Kennel Union of Southern Africa’s National Junior Handler Competition it was off to the UK for 16 year old Amy Kiefer to wave the South African flag at the biggest dog show in the world, Crufts 2015, where she competed in the International Junior Handler’s competition judged by Mrs. Haapaniemi from Finland. Here she tells readers about the experience:

Amy & “Snoopy” at Crufts

Rowena Wonfor had travelled from Cape Town for the Supa 7 competition in Johannesburg in early 2014 with her English Setter (Int. FCI & SA Ch. Reidwood African Dawn).  My Mom and I had been talking about a Setter as a possible breed choice to exhibit at Crufts.  I approached Rowena and asked if I could try handling “Autumn” and she said “yes”. We practiced in an empty ring and although she was tired after competing, “Autumn” was awesome!

After speaking to many Gundog people about the different Setters I decided to handle an Irish at Crufts, because they have the energy to last in the ring for two hours, they have elegance and grace, unlike Gordons and I thought that they were slightly prettier than the Irish Red and White Setters.  My first proper practice was a couple of weeks before the Crufts trip thanks to Douglas Robinson who brought his Setters so I could practice.

On arrival on the first day of Crufts it was nerve racking for me as I watched the Irish Setters and realised how little practice I had actually had with an Irish and so my Mom and I set out to find some help from her friend Michael Gadsby.  After asking him to introduce us to a Setter person, he set off to find Suzy Roffey.

 Suzy was just awesome, we waited till the end of the Setter judging, which took a while as there was about 400 Irish entered.  Suzy was extremely helpful, she took me into an empty ring with her Irish and showed me the tricks of the trade.  After that I felt so much better, having handled a dog and also having a run in a ring.

On Saturday morning I was nervous beyond belief.  I was so afraid that my Setter would end up being a loopy crazy dog.  When I met 4 year old “Snoopy” (Togipoto Ghiaccio) I was so stressed and he could tell, but after about ten minutes Snoops had melted my heart and calmed me down.  He was such a sweet, sweet person and totally knew his job, he also loved the South African biltong we took with us.

When we went in the ring it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, I had lots of time to get used to the ring being from South Africa and competing in alphabetical order.  Snoop Dog just stayed cool the whole time and really came through for me doing more than expected, like a true professional.

                                       Over 40 International Junior handlers await their turn to be judged                                                

Bottom right : Amy & Snoopy

After round one it was much easier to just enjoy his company and I felt that Snoopy and I already had a bond.  He was just the sweetest, softest person.

When Snoops and I went back in for the finals it was pretty nerve racking.  By this stage the main arena was full and as the sound of the crowd hit us, I thought I was going to fall apart, but although Snoops wasn’t happy about the noise, he held me together and we made it to the TOP TEN ! I was so proud and Snoops knew that we had done good !

Snoopy’s parents, Poppie and Tonie Jaconelli were amazing people and so encouraging that it felt like nothing was too much trouble for them.

After having this experience with Snoopy I think I would really like to own an Irish Setter one day.  I really love the Gundogs as a group, but I have never really considered the Setters, Snoopy has changed my perspective completely.

Amy Kiefer

Thank you for your contribution Amy and CONGRATULATIONS from all South Africa’s Setter folk, we are very proud of your achievement with Snoopy !!!!!!  Further CONGRATULATIONS on winning the KUSA National Junior Handler Competition on 3lst May 2015

I am also very proud to claim a link here! Snoopy is the litter brother of the sire of my boy, Glenvarna Fire And Ice At Hooley, so Snoopy is his uncle.