A dog which used to be such hard work that she made her owner cry has made it to Crufts. Australian Cattle Dog, Matilda, hasn’t always been the easiest to train and left owner Lucy Forrester in tears at a training class.
But now proud Lucy is hoping her beloved ‘sassy’ pooch will follow in her four-legged grandmother’s footprints when she makes her bow at Crufts.
After already proving she has the temperament for the spotlight ‘Mattie’ is now ready to strut her stuff at the renowned event. Lucy, of Stafford, had spent many years researching the Australian Cattle Dog breed.
The 34-year-old said: “Despite years of researching and visiting the breed stand at Discover Dogs at Crufts, many a time, nothing prepared me for having one myself
“Mattie is happy and friendly, but can be stubborn, sassy and above all, gobby – a typical cattle dog. We often found this while out on walks as she mouthed off at other dogs. I started taking her to ringcraft classes when she was about 12 weeks old, I didn’t expect anything to come of it but thought it would be good training for her if nothing else.”
Ringcraft involves teaching a dog how to behave in the ring, but Lucy initially despaired. She said: “I found about the breed at Discover Dogs. They were an energetic sort of breed and I liked that in a dog. I spent years researching them and waiting for the right time.
“Breeders vetted me as well to make sure I’d give one a good home. Then she arrived.”
Matilda’s grandmother won a Best of Breed gong at Crufts in 2018. However, Matilda, who is now 21 months old, wasn’t well-behaved at her classes to begin with. Lucy said: “Almost immediately we found ourselves having to mortifyingly make a quick exit as Mattie loudly expressed her feelings towards the other dogs in the class, I felt completely out of my depth. I ran out in tears with my puppy.
“I was followed by one of the trainers who calmed me down and reassured me not to leave. If she hadn’t, I don’t think I would have had the guts to continue the classes.”
Lucy persevered, initially standing at the side with Matilda to watch other dogs, and also leaving the class if the pooch became over-excited. She said: “When we were finally able to join in I can’t describe how amazing a feeling it was to finally start learning ringcraft and start our showing.
“I was very hesitant about entering Mattie into our first show, which happened to be a championship one. But with the support of my husband, our ringcraft instructors and Mattie’s breeder, we took the plunge.
“She was absolutely wonderful throughout on the day and I was shocked when we came first in Puppy Bitch and qualified for Crufts – at our very first show.”
Lucy is now working towards Crufts which takes place between March 9 and March 13. She said: “It still feels surreal.
“I’m very excited. I am not expecting her to win but I’m very happy and it’s really cool to qualify for it.”
Lucy also has guinea pigs, a tortoise, quails and an older dog. She added: “We have taken part in many more shows since, and I always feel like a winner no matter how well we do, as I always remember the loud, reactive pup who I first joined a class with.
“She is a happy and cheeky girl who I am blessed to have, and I cannot wait for our first ever Crufts, not only in the ring, but also representing at Discover Dogs, as she did in London in October 2022.
“We are also due to start agility training very soon and I am sure she will enjoy a sport that will embrace her gobby side a bit more.”