River, an eight-month-old black Russian terrier, will travel to Crufts in 2022 with her handler, 14-year-old Katya Lynnyk-Ali.
Katya, a student at Jersey College for Girls, will be one of the younger exhibitors at the prestigious event after qualifying with River at the Kennel Club of Jersey’s championship show.
River, whose full name is Holodnaya Zhara Vivat! Poltava, arrived in Jersey in June after being bought by Katya’s mother, Oksana Lynnyk, from her native Ukraine.
Ms Lynnyk, a nurse who has lived in Jersey since 2019, explained that the family had looked for a different breed of dog after losing a beloved family pet, a giant schnauzer named Maya, in June last year.
She said: ‘We knew it would be hard to get the same breed of dog, as we could never replace Maya. We liked the black Russian terrier but they are a rare breed and eventually I found a breeder who was able to help bring her to the UK, where we could collect her.’
Upset following the loss of Maya, with whom she had grown up, Katya had started watching sessions organised by the Jersey Dog Training Association in fields near the family home in St Saviour.
Before too long she was asked to help with the sessions and received training from the association. Her mother paid tribute to the encouragement given by the group and the kennel club in supporting River.
‘We were reluctant to enter at first, and then were just going to enter a handling class, and certainly we didn’t expect this,’ she said.
The end result was River winning rosettes for best of breed, best in her group, best puppy and best junior, as well as qualification for Crufts, a first for her Ukrainian breeder, who burst into tears when the good news was relayed.
Although River is within an inch or two of her full height, she is likely to fill out from her current weight of 40kg and could eventually reach up to 55kg.
Her growth prompted a change in the family car, with a diminutive Suzuki being traded in for something more spacious to ease the thrice-weekly trips to training sessions.
Katya affectionately described her partner-in-crime as ‘an absolute nuisance’, prone to putting her face in every molehill she passed and with a liking for grabbing the nearest piece of cardboard or plastic for a good chew.
Even without the molehill mud-mask treatment, getting River ready for show involves up to eight hours of washing and grooming, and the family are already making plans for the journey to Birmingham’s NEC in March, where they will be flying the flag for both Jersey and Ukraine.