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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Blind Cumbrian woman's Crufts joy

An inspirational mum has found the perfect way to show her daughter never to give up on her dreams – by bagging a place at Crufts with a dog she’s only shown for two months.

Crufts woman photo
Leah Todd-McCoid and daughter Ruby with chihuahua Bobby

Leah Todd-McCoid knows first hand how hard life can be as she was born blind. The 37-year-old from Cleator Moor wants to carve out a career for her eight-year-old daughter Ruby, who is also visually impaired and suffers from the genetic disorder Noonan syndrome.

And after just two months of professionally showing dogs, her seven-month-old chihuahua, Bobby, has secured a spot at next year’s Crufts.

“The dog shows are all about me and Ruby doing something together that we love,” said Leah. “I want to keep her focussed as it’s very important. Life is going to be hard enough for her when she’s older so I want to give her something and show her to never give up on what you want to do, or be defeated.”

But Leah, who also has a three-year-old son Logan with husband Nick who is also blind, said it has not been an easy challenge as it has been difficult to get accepted.

“I enjoy it so much and so do the dogs, but it is a very cut-throat sport,” she said. “The people can be nasty and you have got to learn to have thick skin, and that’s where I fall down.

“I have had some negative feedback from breeders about my sight, but I’m sorry, they’re my dogs and they will show best for me rather than another handler.

“But whatever I do, I’m not going to win with people because if I get first place they’ll say I probably got it because the judge was sympathetic to me. But it shouldn’t be about the handler – it should be the dog.”

When she’s in the ring with Bobby, who goes by the show name of Tinasjoy Bobbydozzle of Rubyanlo, she has a guide who helps her to walk around the ring and tells her what the dog is doing and when the judge is looking.

Her mum was the guide when they came second in the minor puppy dog category for long-haired chihuahuas at last Sunday’s Championships at Edinburgh.

“How the dog is standing is very important,” she said. “If the dog’s slouched, or does not have its tail up, my mum will tell me. She’s not allowed to interfere in positioning him because I’m the handler.”

The family, who live at Leconfield Street, are all dog lovers. In the past year they have acquired nine altogether – six chihuahuas, a bichon frise, lhasa apso and a maltese. However, Leah only shows two of these.

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