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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

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Cumbrian dog owner narrowly misses Crufts crown

A dog named Merlin had judges spellbound at Crufts but narrowly missed out on the top prize last night.

Crufts winner photo
Judith Caruthers with Merlin. Photo: onEdition

The Irish water spaniel, owned by Judith Carruthers, of Thursby, claimed top spot in the gun dog category at Britain’s most prestigious canine contest – the first of his breed to win the section.

The two-year-old pooch went on to represent Cumbria in yesterday’s Best in Show final, at te NEC in Birmingham, but was pipped by a Lhasa Apso named Elizabeth.

Speaking after Merlin’s win, Mrs Carruthers, 56, said: “I’m in complete shock.

“He’s been showing in the ring since he was very young so he is used to it but this is the first time he has done it in a show as big as Crufts.

“He was thrashing around all over the place at first and I was a bit worried but we got it together in the end and I am absolutely thrilled.”

The Irish water spaniel is a registered vulnerable breed, renowned for its shaggy mane of curls.

Originally bred as waterfowling dogs, they are excellent swimmers and are used in a variety of different work.

Mrs Carruthers, of Shaw Wood Road, has won prizes at Crufts every year for the past decade.

Caroline Kisko, of the Kennel Club, said: “We were delighted to see Merlin chosen as the Best in Group winner. He is such a lovely dog that clearly loves being in the show ring and has a great relationship with his handler. Reaching the Best in Show final at Crufts is a fabulous achievement for any dog.”

Last night’s final at the NEC was watched by an 8,000-strong crowd and a live television audience.

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