A woman who was left partially paralysed by meningitis has gone on to achieve double success with two of her dogs at a Championship Dog Show and qualify for DFS Crufts 2010.
Virginia Dowty, 57 from Ballasalla on the Isle of Man, won Best of Breed and Reserve Best of Breed with two of her Bolognese, Dougie and Audrey at the Bournemouth Canine Association Championship Dog Show. This was the third time in 2009 that the pair had done the double of Best of Breed and Reserve Best of Breed, having already tasted success at the UK Toy Dog Show and Blackpool Championship Show.
Virginia suffered a serious injury to her spine in 1998 in a medical accident and contracted meningitis. As a result, she suffers from a condition called progressive chronic adhesive arachnoiditis which gives her constant pins and needles and reduced feeling in her limbs, but feels that breeding and showing dogs helps to improve her life significantly.
Living on the Isle of Man is a huge challenge for Virginia as she is unable to drive because of her condition and relies a great deal on her daughter, Tanya Mackrell and other friends who often drive and accompany her to help show her dogs. Virginia often travels by twin engine plane when taking her dogs to and from the many dog shows she attends each year.
Virginia said: “The dogs really love flying. To them it is like getting in and out of a car, and they fly to a lot of shows in the UK and Ireland and sometimes in Europe. Last year they flew several thousand miles to and from the Isle of Man to shows - probably around 3,500 miles! It sounds very glamorous but it is hard work and takes a lot of planning.”
Virginia is a Kennel Club Accredited Breeder, which means that she agrees to give her dogs the health tests that are required for their breed and to take other steps to give her the best chance of breeding happy, healthy puppies.
Virginia said “I started showing Cavalier King Charles Spaniels over 40 years ago as a hobby and have loved every minute of the dog world since then. When I had the accident in 1998, I had to stop work so I concentrated on my dogs. Many people don’t know about my accident and that I am in constant pain even with painkillers, but my dogs really help me to take my mind off the pain and discomfort I suffer.”
Bournemouth Canine Association Championship Dog Show is one of 37 General Championship Dog shows throughout the year that enable dogs to qualify for Crufts, in March 2010.
For further information on Crufts visit www.crufts.org.uk