Mum of Crufts champ hails ‘fantastic bond’ with surprise spaniel

Toby and trainer Georgia
Toby and trainer Georgia
  • Springer spaniel Toby and Georgia won the 12-16 years handling competition
  • Georgia’s mum Liz explained Toby was not meant to compete with her
  • Liz taught a baby Georgia how to lead a dog from her pram

A Towcester schoolgirl who learned to lead train a dog when she was still in her pram has scooped her first top prize at Crufts.

And it was all due to an attack of nerves by another dog owner.

Georgia and Toby won the 12-16 years handling competition

Georgia and Toby won the 12-16 years handling competition

Georgia Brown, 14, fell in love with springer spaniel Toby when she met him and his owner Steve Wildsmith at a local dog training class.

The Sponne school pupil’s own dog Carmen was proving a real disappointment in the show ring.

“She just looks miserable. She doesn’t really like it,” said Georgia’s mum Liz.

Meanwhile eager spaniel Toby lapped up the attention - but owner Steve hated it!

“Steve got nervous in the ring. Unfortunately dogs can pick up on someone’s nerves and it affects their performance,” said Liz.

The obvious solution was for Georgia to compete with Toby on Steve’s behalf.

“It worked brilliantly. Georgia and Toby formed a real bond and work fantastically together,” said Liz.

“She spends hours with him. teaching him all kinds of tricks. He’ll even dance for her!”

A keen dog owner herself, Liz had taught Georgia how to hold a lead properly while she was still a tot in her pram.

She has also ben going with her mum to watch the performances at Crufts since she was a tiny baby.

By the age of 10 Georgia was competing in young handler events. Last year she and Toby were runners-up in the prestigious Junior Handling Association Finals at Earls Court.

This year was her fourth attempt at Crufts and she was “over the moon” to win the 12-16 years handling competition, said her mum.

The prize earned her a place in the finals, where she scooped the runner-up rosette.

“She was competing against other handlers up to the age of 24 in the final, so she was particularly pleased,” said Liz.

Georgia herself said: I didn’t expect to finish first. Just being able to compete is great but to win is amazing.

“Crufts is the biggest show of the year. I love coming here and I still can’t believe I’ve won.”

Meanwhile Steve and his wife Margaret, who live in nearby Ashton, are as proud as punch of Toby, said Liz.

They are hoping the Georgia and Toby partnership will go from success to success.

Luckily the pair missed the controversial dog poisoning has plagued this year’s Cruft’s event.

“We saw nothing - thank goodness. It was a happy event for us” said Liz.