• Helen McNutt

Victory at the Dog Show

Firstly we were late. We had invited some relatives over for the day and the final gaggle claimed they’d thought the dog show part of their visit was just a joke, and so were not here by 12.30 sharp.

Then no one believed me when I said it was just a coincidence that I was wearing a bright pink jumper with a picture of a massive dog in the middle, making me out to be some kind of dog show loser mom. Once we got to the show, disaster struck again as, despite being very short indeed, my godfather’s Yorkshire Terrier, Ted, did not even place in the shortest legs competition.

Things did not improve with the obstacle course. Scarlett and I began promisingly. My children have finally learned not to try to join in ‘for fun’ so I didn’t have to push them out the way, losing vital seconds, as I have the previous two years.

Scarlett and I flew round until we got to the stupid tunnel thing. Despite me crawling through it myself, Scarlett refused. My godfather claimed she sat outside smoking a fag and laughing at me instead. Although I think he only said it because he was resentful about his dog’s failure to have the shortest legs.

Dejected, we were about to go home when another uncle said he quite fancied a go at the 11 legged race.

Now, our family has form in the 11 legged race. Two years ago Andrew borrowed another teacher’s dog so he, Scarlett and Bear, who was five at the time, could enter the race. Both Bear and the borrowed cockapoo were a bit short to comfortably partner Andrew who is 6ft4, but that didn’t hold him back. In his rush to cross the finish line Andrew very nearly garrotted the dog and left Bear with a torso-length bruise down his right hand side that took a very long time to fade. They weren’t quite first, but Andrew says to say they were because no one will remember by now anyway.

Back to the 11 legged race of 2019. The heats were already coming to an end by the time we got to the start line, so we simply joined in the final. I took Scarlett, my uncle took Gigi, and we bandaged our ankles together, just in time for starters orders.

On your marks, get set, go! And away we sped. Despite a very precarious wobble at the start we recovered and thundered down the track. Around the midway point we began to pull away. ‘We can do this’ I yelled through gritted teeth as the competition fell away either side of us.

And do it we did, flinging ourselves to victory over the finish line. Other members of my family did point out that I needn’t have finished quite so dramatically, but they hadn’t seen me at Bear’s primary school mum’s race two years ago, when gold was only clinched by throwing myself over the finish line in similar style. And anyway, as the video so clearly shows, it was my uncle who pulled me down to the floor, not the other way round.

Amidst the emotional scenes and jubilation, there was some muttering about ‘that’s how legs get broken’ and, it must be said, more laughing ‘at’ than ‘with’. And a lady with a clipboard did come over and tell us we hadn’t really won as we hadn’t taken part in any of the stupid heats. Yet we were victorious anyway. Not only because we had actually, if not officially, won. But because we’d done so graciously, with great dignity. An inspiration not just to the spectators at yesterday’s dog show, but to sports enthusiasts everywhere.