The owner of a best breed in show at Crufts last week has described as “heart-wrenching” the flurry of controversy which enveloped her victory.
Susan Cuthbert said complaints and criticism about her German shepherd Cruaghaire Catoria’s condition had turned the triumph into the worst show experience of her life.
The three-year-old dog, known as Tori, was judged best of her breed at the world-famous show in Birmingham.
However, biting criticism soon engulfed Susan, of the Cruaghaire Kennels in Cardenden, over claims the dog had a sloping back and a wobbly walk, as well as seeming pained and unsettled.
Channel 4 TV viewers took to social media to voice their opinions, while the judges were criticised over their verdict, amid claims that Tori should never have qualified for the show, let alone been declared a winner.
The RSPCA and the Kennel Club also expressed concern over her apparent condition.
Susan said it was still “horribly fresh”, as she was still receiving “awful” emails and phone calls.
In a statement, she said: “I am both deeply shocked and terribly upset by all the horrendous comments directed towards my beautiful Tori.
“Words cannot express the heart-wrenching experience I have suffered.
“The comments made on television about my lovely Shepherd were unbelievable, especially when one considers the brevity of the images.
“How can you judge a dog on such a brief observation? There is a clear lack of tolerance and knowledge of our German shepherd breed.”
Susan said the vet examined her bitch before she received her Best of Breed certificate and deemed her to have no visible condition which adversely affected her health and welfare. This was the second Kennel Club-ordered check she had passed in six months.
“As if it was not upsetting enough that my bitch faltered under the heavy media coverage in the arena – on what should have been the happiest day of my show life – to then be tried and convicted on social media and the press has now made this the worst nightmare of my show life.”
Susan said UK owners of German shepherds – Tori’s breed – were increasingly following German standards, which were the most comprehensive in the world. They required, for showing and breeding, DNA parentage, microchip identification, hip and elbow grades and assessment of the spine along with formal character assessment, tests of endurance, courage, tracking and obedience, and more. “Soundness in mind and body is a crucial part of the German Shepherd breed,” she added.