I had wanted to visit Finland for a long time, as I had heard such good reports of both the country and the Borzois, so I was delighted when I received the invitation to judge at your show. I arrived in Tampere the day before and was met at the airport by Liisa Tuominen, accompanied by one of her Borzois. After an excellent lunch at a hotel we called in at Liisa’s flat and then she drove me out to the showground, which gave me ample opportunity to admire the beautiful countryside.

The showground really impressed me, so beautiful and with so much space. We have few venues like that in England for a Club show. After a quick reconnoitre it was on to the hotel. At the judges’ dinner that evening an official from the show gave us a very clear explanation of the judging system and was pleased to answer any questions. I wish this was always done for foreign judges, as slight differences in the judging systems in various countries can cause a lot of confusion unless they are clarified first. The only worry we were left with was the weather, as a very hot weekend was predicted and we were a little apprehensive that it might cause problems for both judges and dogs.

On arrival at the showground the next day I was most impressed with the setup, with huge rings and a tent that was big enough to permit each dog to be judged and critiqued in the shade. I was only sorry that I could not make better use of the ring and move the dogs as much as I would have liked due to the heat. The prizes on offer were fantastic and really amazed me, as we get nothing like that in England. I was also pleased to see that many of the handlers were young. Sadly this is not the case at home, where a number of older breeders and exhibitors are giving up and there seem to be few youngsters coming on to replace them, which does not augur well for the breed.

I cannot speak highly enough of my ring steward and secretary, both of whom were so helpful and efficient that judging was a real pleasure. I am very much in favour of the system of grading dogs when judging and wish that our Kennel Club would adopt it. However, it can be quite difficult initially when one is not accustomed to it and does not know what level of quality to expect. I will only give an excellent grade to a dog which I consider to be of top quality, so I tend not to give very many!

All the exhibits were well presented with excellent temperaments, and in all the classes I was pleased with the dogs I placed. There were only three puppies present. I was most impressed with my BIS puppy, Pomzoi Il Quattro, who should have a very bright future. The junior class was rather mixed in quality, but this is to be expected in this age group in a slow maturing breed. The intermediate class was a joy to judge, with seven out of nine receiving an excellent grade, which promises well for the future. After this the open class was perhaps a little disappointing, with only three dogs graded excellent, but my secretary reassured me that it was quite common for judges to find this. There were some impressive dogs in the champions class but again I was a little disappointed not to be able to award more excellents. The four veterans present were all in excellent condition and a credit to their owners.

I found it very difficult to decide on the final line-up. Eventually the nod had to go to Anna-Su Xenik Fetete, the young s/b winner of the open class. In this heat it was definitely not good to be black, but despite this this young dog never gave up showing. His movement was a joy to watch and later I also chose him as best mover. He is another who should have a bright future. Best dog 2 was another youngster, Betjanova Aram Hatshaturjan, winner of the strong intermediate class, coming ahead of the champion class winners.



It was a little disappointing not to see any of the bitch judging, as my co-judge finished just after me. I find the quality in bitches is usually higher, but I prefer to judge dogs as there is always the chance of finding a stud dog for future use! I am a great admirer of the best bitch, Ch. Staraja Russa Feodorovna, who I have judged before, but on the day maturity had to give way to youth, making the dog BIS while I gave best champion to the bitch.

We do not have competitions for best head etc. in England, so I found these challenging to judge, although most enjoyable. Hardest of all was the breeders class, where the standard was very high and all the groups were a credit to their breeders.

In the evening we enjoyed a wonderful buffet which I understand was prepared by one of the exhibitors. Next morning I finally managed to find the hotel pool and had a most welcome swim, then it was back to the showground to enjoy the lure coursing. It was still very hot and I was most impressed by the number of competitors and how well they ran. In England we struggle to get an attendance of 5 Borzois and they do not always run, although support and performance from other breeds is better. This was a really pleasant and relaxed day which gave me the chance to meet up with a number of people.

Once the coursing was over Liisa drove me back to Tampere, where I spent the night in a hotel. Next morning the weather was definitely English, quite cold and raining. Liisa drove me all the way to Kuopio, where we met up with Kristiina Voutilainen and her delightful bitch Hana, who I would love to have taken home. A lady with two other Staraja Russa bitches came over and we all went for a lovely long walk by the lake. We stayed the night at Kristiina’s flat and next day visited the Staraja Russa kennel. Two other Staraja Russa males were brought over for me to see, all of the same excellent type. After lunch back at the flat Liisa and I set off again, this time to visit Pirjo Hostikka-Vuokare of the Krilat kennel. I was most impressed by her three bitches, three generations of the most exquisite type, and also by her extensive knowledge of breeding and pedigrees.

After the long drive back to Tampere I returned to the hotel, but soon my old friend Paivi Heikkinen came to collect me and took me to see her flat, where we spent a very pleasant evening. Next day there was just time for a quick look around Tampere with Liisa, including a visit to the lovely ground where you hold shows and race meetings. I felt very envious as we have nothing like that in England.

All too soon it was time to return to the airport for my flight home. I enjoyed my time in your lovely country so much and would like to thank everyone for making me feel so welcome. Special thanks must go to the indefatigable Liisa who drove me so many miles without complaint, and was such a charming and interesting companion. I hope I will be able to visit Finland again before too long, and would love to see some of you supporting the next International Borzoi Conference in the USA in 2014 – you have plenty of time to save up!


Finnish Borzoi Club magazine 4-2011