Ripley's trip to the FCI World Dog Show in Sweden July 2008


We decided to enter the World Dog Show in 2008 already years in advance, as soon as we heard it would be held in Sweden. As Sweden is my home country (although I have lived in England since 1988) it seemed like something not to miss. The WDS is held in a different country each year, but only in countries whose kennel clubs are part of FCI. The UK of course is not, so we knew it would never be held here. As each country take it in turns to hold the show, to go through every country would take around 50 years, so there wasn't much chance of it being held in Sweden again during our lifetime. Hence we really wanted to go! It seemed so much easier to travel abroad when it was to a country I knew, where I speak the language, and, importantly, where we had somewhere to stay without relying on hotels. (Especially with a dog!)

(Clicking on the banner will take you to the official WDS 2008 website with photos, results etc.)


We had originally planned to enter two Malinois, but not only was the entry fee extremely high, we also realised that Rio, Ripley's daughter, was due to come into season very close to the show so we risked not being able to take her even if we did enter her. She was also due to be mated, and sure enough, came into season the day before we left! (The third adult Malinois we have, Z, did not have a pets passport as he was returned to us after we had started the process with the bitches.)


Getting to Sweden from England would appear easy, as by air it only takes just over 2 hours. However, we didn't really like the idea of flying with Ripley, we found out the cost would be astronomical for a dog as large as she, and we liked the idea of having the car available. However driving anywhere from England isn't easy as, of course, we are on an island here! Years ago, when I first started to visit England from Sweden, you used to be able to take a ferry direct from Sweden to England and vice versa. I looked into it and found those ferries no longer existed. They went as far as Denmark, which wasn't bad -but you were no longer allowed animals on them! Hence we had two options. We could either take the channel tunnel or ferry to France and drive from there, or we could take the ferry to Holland and drive through Holland, Germany and Denmark. As it would have taken even longer to go via France, we opted for Holland.


Monday the 30th of June we drove down to Harwich and boarded the ferry to Holland. The ferry left just before midnight and Ripley had to stay in the car for the crossing which took 8 hours. As she is used to the car and had water, chews etc she was fine. There were some "kennels" onboard but having seen them, I am very glad we didn't opt to use them!

Ripley in Harwich, the ferry can just about be seen in the background (it was very dark!)

Us humans had a lovely cabin to sleep in


We arrived in Holland 7.45 the next morning and it took quite a while to get off the ferry as a motor home had got stuck and could not leave -it was tall and had somehow managed to get ON the ferry but when trying to get off, got stuck like a cork! It was quite a sight when we finally got off the ferry. There was us, a few other cars, and a coach all stopping as fast as we could near to the first patch of grass we could find and suddenly over 20 dogs with owners ran to the grass, all dogs desperate for a wee after having been locked up all night! (The coach was a coach party going to the show from the UK, hence that many dogs.)


Ripley in Hoek van Holland

Just to prove she was there -this is the sign in the background enlarged!


We had printed out instructions from the RAC website on how to drive (we don't have SatNav), and very quickly got lost. Holland turned out to be a nightmare to drive in as the road signs were so confusing, and when the RAC told us to leave the motorway at junction 11, we got totally lost and spent 2 hours driving around Rotterdam, including in a very busy town centre. John finally managed to get directions from English speaking staff at a petrol station, and it turned out that there were TWO junctions numbered 11, and we had picked the wrong one to exit at! After that all was straight forward and we drove through Holland into Germany and Denmark, then across a huge bridge and into Sweden.


We stopped a few times, and I have to say, that stopping at the roadside in all the countries (including the UK) except Sweden which was clean, was not nice. Walk a little bit into the nearest wood or bushy area with a dog to toilet (complete with plastic bags to pick up after her) and you quickly noticed it was not DOGS that usually toileted there.

A roadside break in Germany. The weather was really hot.

Alfresco breakfast in Germany.

Okay you can eat now!


The bridges were stunning. There was one in between islands in Denmark, and then the one connecting Denmark to Sweden, and each were over a mile long. It was a strange feeling to travel so close to the water in a car, wherever you looked all you could see around you was water and boats! There were expensive tolls for crossing the bridges, and what with the petrol costs, it was a very expensive way to get to Sweden, but a least we got to see some of the countries we travelled through. Navigating in Germany and Denmark was easy, especially as there I could understand what the road signs said. We were grateful for the car's AC as it was very hot indeed, and in fact we almost did not want to step out of the car as it was just TOO hot outside.

The webpage for the Öresund bridge from Denmark to Sweden


During all of this travel, which involved several country borders, nobody ever checked Ripley's pets passport. When we drove into Sweden I decided to play safe so we stopped and ASKED for it to be checked, and the customs official who did opened it on the WRONG page, glanced quickly and handed it back to me. So much for all the expensive blood tests, worming etc we had done! (Especially the extra blood test we had to do to cover Sweden's rules as well as the UK's.)


After about 15 hours drive we arrived in Southern Sweden very late in the evening, staying the night with a friend of mine, Tina and her family, that I hadn't seen for 18 years. It was great to catch up after so long. Tina has a male German Shepherd Dog, and Sammy and Ripley made friends and went for walks together. But I totally forgot to take photos!


The next morning we drove up to Stockholm which took another 8 hours almost.

A lovely break in Sweden by a lake in Jönköping. We took lots of photos here.


Finally we arrived at my mum's flat which was a big relief.

Ripley resting in my mum's flat

The view from my mum's flat in Ör, Sundbyberg


The day after we had set aside to rest and walk Ripley, and we were very glad we had -it would have been too much to go straight to the show.

Ripley in Ursvik

Some grooming in preparation for the show



The show was on Friday the 4th of July. (Or rather FCI Group 1 was, the entire show was on for 4 days.) We got to the show at about 7 am. To park was a nightmare as there weren't enough parking spaces (despite all visitors having been told to come via public transport, to enable the exhibitors to park), and many foreign exhibitors with vans had parked haphazardly and taken up several spaces each. Finally we found a space and then had to join the queue for vetting in, which was several hundred yards long, it stretched round 3 sides of the building.


I'm used to vetting in for cat shows but not for dog of course, and this exercise seemed a bit pointless. Whilst we were queuing we had Ripley's vaccination certificate checked as no dogs are allowed into Swedish shows without being vaccinated. Then when we finally got in, I had to walk Ripley up a ramp onto a table. I expected a careful examination like they do at cat shows here in the UK, but no, all they did was look at her face and look under her tail, that was it. Took all of 5 seconds.


The exhibition halls (Älvsjömässan) are kind of Sweden's equivalent to the NEC, but slightly smaller.There were roughly the same number of dogs as for Crufts, but there were no benches like we are used to here, and only a fraction of the number of trade stands. The smaller number of stands made it all a lot easier to move around, but it would have been difficult to bring more than one dog. There were areas set aside for cages, but I would not have been happy caging a dog in a corner and leaving it there as there were no seating close to the cage areas. The whole place looked a bit cheap compared to Crufts as the floors were bare and not carpeted, but I guess when all is told, it was more practical. We just wished we'd brought some chairs, we had expected to walk around all day and look at trade stands so didn't bring any. In the end looking at the trade stands only took about half an hour. Eventually my feet hurt so much I sat down on some stairs.

John, Ripley and me waiting for Ripley's class



The Laekenois were second in the ring and we watched most of that judging. There was an unbelievable entry of 34. What a sight it was! I don't know an awful lot about Laekenois but they all seemed fairly even to me, more so than the Malinois.


More waiting



When the Laekenois judging finished the Malinois judging started (31 entries with a couple of absentees).

Malinois judging


The judge , Horst Kliebenstein from Germany who also had judged Laekenois, was very fast. He got through 88 dogs (3 breeds, there was a different breed in the ring before Laekenois) in about 5 hours, including grading them all and writing critiques. It was all done very well for the audience to follow. Before each class, a steward walked around the ring holding up a board showing what class was about to be judged, and what numbers. That way we didn't have to rely on announcements.



As each dog was judged, a coloured ribbon was given out for the grading, which you then tie to the lead. Red is Very Good and Pink is Excellent, and the steward held each ribbon up in the air so that everyone could see what grading the dogs got.


You had to really keep your eyes on things as judging is done so differently to here. First each dog in the class is graded, then all leave the ring again and the next class is called "Competition class". There those graded Excellent in the previous class compete for the placings. If less than 4 were Excellent then the Very Goods come back in as well. There are also competitions for best junior, best veteran, CAC (the normal CC) CACIB (the international CC) etc. At the end I wasn't even sure who got BOB until I looked up the results later! I still don't understand how the working class is judged, and how come there are separate tickets for that.



There were 3 UK bred Malinois entered, all Sabrefields, and that of course included Ripley (Sabrefield Zimply Zuper but also Sabrefield Swift Action owned by Cecilie Haug from Norway and Sarefield Secret Weapon owned by Katja Lindberg from Sweden -the owner of Nighthawk Andromeda who was BOB at Crufts in 2006.

I had a nice chat with their owners.

The two Sabrefield bitches who have the same dad as Rio and Z and whose mother is Ripley's littersister


The judge was very strict and for instance immediately dismissed any dog that backed away from him -they did not get a second chance to be gone over. He allowed them to be moved but none were awarded Excellent. The quality of the Malinois varied a lot, some were very obviously working bred, some were very nice. At times we could not quite understand why the judge placed the dogs as he did. My heart sank when "Esther" (S. Secret Weapon) and "Milley" (S. Swift Action) both received red ribbons. The judge didn't seem to like the UK type of dog, so we assumed his view of Ripley would be the same as that of her nieces.

Esther and Milley in the ring

Watching the judging


However, when John finally got into the ring, with Ripley as the very last dog to be judged by that judge, my mum and I almost jumped in the air when the steward held up the PINK ribbon. Ripley was then placed 3rd in the veteran bitch class -veteran being from 8 years of age in Sweden. Not the best of placings of course, but the fact that she got an Excellent (and was the only UK bred Malinois to do so) meant a lot. The veteran winner was indeed Nighthawk Andromeda.

John and Ripley in the ring

Graded excellent



The judging was all finished at about 2.30 pm and by then more visitors had arrived and as it was a really hot day the halls started to get hot and uncomfortable (no air conditioning), so we decided to leave and go home rather than to look around more, it was just too hot to cope with more and it wasn't fair on Ripley. We were all so hot we just longed for a shower. We managed to miss all the Papillon judging as well which I would have liked to see (it being my second breed) and most rare breeds we had looked forward to spotting. We were far away from the Tervueren and Groenendael rings so didn't see any of them either.

The 3 Sabrefield bitches



The last thing we did was collect the rosettes.

You queue up and hand over your critique and they hand you the rosettes you are entitled to -a nice pink one for Excellent, a yellow one for the 3rd, and a blue one which I think was just for taking part. Then you have to pay for them! Each dog also received a nice diploma saying they had taken part in the WDS 2008, it was specially printed with the dog's name and registration number etc. Each dog also received a bag for carrying treats in.


All in all we really enjoyed the show.

John, Ripley and my mum Sol-Britt about to leave the show



The following day was another day of rest and walks.

John having a rare rest

OF COURSE I won't chase the geese!

IceCream man

My aunt lives in this house

My idea of a joke -the sign says"No dogs allowed in the playground"

(Ripley wasn't actually inside it)


We also went to a large petshop. We brought Ripley with us, and they had a special lift for dogs to enter the shop as it was upstairs! Ripley was in heaven looking at all the treats, and the lady at the check out gave her lots of free treats and a chew.

Outside the block of flats my mum lives in

My mum taking a photo of me taking a photo of Ripley!




Sunday we left again for southern Sweden for another stop over with Tina but first we had to see the vet to get Ripley wormed and Frontlined for the pets passport. The vet I used to work for in the 1980's opened up her surgery especially for us in the morning! She also made sure to give Ripley treats to make it a nice experience -I wish all vets would do that.


Ripley and the vet Gunvor Lydin ("Lydia")

This newspaper frontpage hangs framed in the vet's waiting room. It's from my first wedding! John said she better make sure to put up a photo of him as well!


Arrived in southern Sweden that evening, and by then it had started to rain. We went for a dog walk and all of us arrived back totally soaked.



We then set off again Monday morning 6 am. The ferry would leave Holland at 10 pm and we had to be there for 9, so we figured that if we allowed ourselves 15 hours we should be fine -hoping we would not get lost again. According to the RAC the drive should only take 10-12 hours. Well we stopped 3 times and got lost once (in Holland, again), but all that only took an hour in total. Yet we arrived to the ferry with just 5 minutes to spare and were the last to board! We had been really worried -imagine if we'd missed the ferry, not only did we not have anywhere to stay or enough money left for a hotel, but the worming etc would be out of date by the next morning. And this time Ripley's papers and her microchip WERE checked before we boarded. So we were really lucky there, but the last bit was rather stressful as we had to rush so much.

Ripley in Denmark

Ripley in Germany



The crossing was rough as the weather had turned bad, a gale force 7 they said. It was impossible to stay upright so we went to bed and slept through it all.


Finally arrived back in the UK Tuesday morning the 8th of July and came back home in the afternoon -just in time to get Rio off to Jan Ralph for mating with "Cougar" the following day.

It was a lovely trip, but good to be home again.