As a 12-year-old girl with a love of animals it seemed like the obvious hobby. Now, as an adult, my champion dogs have got me travelling the globe and competing at the highest level.
It’s an interest that may raise the eyebrows of some, but competitive dog showing is part of who I am and has played a big part of my life.
I think it’s the idea of pampered pooches that puts people off but it’s not like that. The atmosphere has been great at all of the events I’ve attended in my 25 years of showing dogs.
I’ve met some of my closest friends at shows and whilst I can’t quite say it is all fun and games, the mix of competition and friendliness at the events is what has got me hooked.
I’ve always been a ‘dog person’ and now I look after a variety of breeds that I own with my sister Liz. We’ve even set up our own website (alouann.com) to show how dedicated we are to our dogs and to showcase the breeds we own.
I find that there is a very rewarding element to dog showing. As a youngster it was this hobby that served as a confidence booster for me, and now, it’s doing the same for my daughter Mia.
She loves the dogs too and our mutual interest in the hobby has definitely forged a close bond between the two of us. I hope her passion continues as she grows, and that she goes on to create another generation of competitive dog showing in the family.
Mia is as proud of our dogs as I am, and the current jewel in our crown is Diego, our three-year-old greyhound. He’s an international champion and has won numerous events in Belgium, France and the UK.
Travelling the world doing something you have a genuine passion for is great. Just the other week I was in Helsinki judging an international dog show. I’ve been everywhere from Australia to the USA, but wherev er you go, there is always that strong sense of community among competitors.
At a two-day international show in France there was more than 6,000 entries. Once again, Diego did us proud and was named ‘Best in Show’.
I’ve been dog showing for so long now that friends, family and colleagues have accepted my passion.
To most of them I’ve always been Claire – the girl who loves dog shows.
Everyone at Blundells has been extremely supportive and some staff have even started to take an interest in the hobby themselves, which is fantastic to see.
I’ll never stop working with dogs – it’s one of the major loves of my life and it has given me so many wonderful experiences, taking me to places that I never imagined visiting. I can’t imagine life without it, but I guess that’s the thrill of the dog show – it just keeps you wanting more.