Crufts success for Sussex spaniel Wilbur
A dog owner is ‘over the moon’ after her rare breed spaniel scooped two top prizes at Crufts – a feat made possible following a chance encounter several years ago.
Susan Evans’ Sussex spaniel Wilbur won the grand final of the Kennel Club Vulnerable British and Irish Breeds competition at the renowned show last week.
The five-year-old was also named best in breed in the Sussex Spaniel Breed contest.
Mrs Evans, 69, of Herringswell, said: “I’m actually quite dazed by it all. It’s been such an experience and to have a pet who we just bought as a pet to gain such high qualifications is amazing really.
“I’m absolutely over the moon. It is amazing for his breed to win a competition like this, I’m very proud. He makes me smile and laugh every day. He is a very laid-back and relaxed dog but he enjoys showing very much.”
Sussex is the rarest of the land spaniels and was the most vulnerable breed in the UK in 2018 when just 34 puppies were registered with the Kennel Club – although numbers have increased since then with 52 registered last year.
Wilbur’s success follows a chance meeting in February 2016 when Susan’s husband John was out walking him on Cavenham Heath with Wilbur’s younger half brother Bernard.
He was talent spotted by Becky Johnson, who is an experienced exhibitor with flat-coated retrievers, owns kennel Downstream and has judged at Crufts.
She encouraged them to enter Wilbur into shows, which they agreed to and following a couple of local shows and a championship show, he qualified for Crufts.
It is their fourth year at Crufts and Becky, of Kentford, is his handler at most shows.
She said: “I couldn’t be happier for them. It was absolutely brilliant.
“It has given Susan a fantastic hobby – she loves it.
“It just proves that it isn’t always the big people who win everything. You can get a dog and if it’s good enough, you can go all the way.”
More by this authorPaul Derrick