Grimoldby boy Dylan Smith and his beloved Border Collie, Chase, have achieved a remarkable set of results at Crufts this year.
Despite his young age, Dylan is practically a Crufts veteran, having taken part in the prestigious international competition since he was just six years old.
Dylan has spent half of his life growing up alongside Chase, who was taken in by his family when he was just an 11-week-old puppy, and their partnership has seen them win countless awards and accolades at dog shows across the country.
But Dylan’s success is not without precedent: his family has a long history of dog training. His grandmother took up dog training 50 years ago, becoming only the second person in the UK to do heelwork to music.
Dylan’s sister Grace, who is three years younger than him, is also a successful young dog trainer - the siblings train at the Louth and District Dog Club, and both of them scooped a number of awards at last year’s Crufts competition.
This year, Dylan and Chase won the Young Kennel Club (YKC) intermediate heelwork class and they also came second in the Advanced Freestyle - no mean feat, as this was the first time that Dylan was in the 12-24 age group at Crufts.
To beat people double my age feels really good, as you feel like you’ve proved yourself.Dylan Smith
Dylan said: “To beat people double my age feels really good, as you feel like you’ve proved yourself.
“It’s still a bit of a surprise because you don’t expect to win a competition that big.”
He added: “There are five different halls, and each one has its own vibe.
“Hall Three is the YKC ring, and the atmosphere in there is really tense, but you’ve just got to keep your nerve.”
To take part in the contest Dylan had to choose the music, choreograph the routine and then spend a couple of months before the competition practicing with Chase to ensure that it all ran smoothly on the day.
This year, Dylan and Chase performed to ‘Footprints in the Sand’ by Leona Lewis.
Dylan’s grandmother, Carol Mortimer, said: “Dylan is going from strength to strength with his heelwork to music and freestyle with his Border Collie dog Chase.
“His next target is to win an Advanced Freestyle class in an open show and eventually get into the adult finals that take place in the main ring, and that gets the admiration from everyone.”