The amazing Maisie makes history for Dachshunds
The incredible story of a young married couple who inherited, through friendship and a mutual love of Dachshunds, a world-famous kennel and set it on the path towards even greater success resulting in the ultimate prize at Crufts.
At Crufts 2020, Ch Silvae Trademark became the first Dachshund of any variety to win the show’s coveted Best in Show award. Here Crufts poses a number of questions to Kim McCalmont who, along with husband Duncan, bred and owns ‘Maisie’ the Wire Haired history maker.
What was the reaction of fellow dog breeders and exhibitors to this historic win?
The response was one of delight. So many people contacted us with reams of cards and flowers, people of all descriptions, people we knew and people we had never met, so delighted that a Dachshund had won, all recounting tales of what they were doing when the decision was made. However, one of Maisie’s brothers was photographed asleep on the chair at the very moment she ascended the winner’s podium. It was a win for everyone who owns a Wire.
A Dachshund has never won Best in Show at Crufts before. How does that feel?
A great sense of pride that we have been able to carry the flag for the breed and for the Silvae kennel. It acknowledges the role of the Starbarrack and Treis Pinheiros dogs in Maisie’s pedigree who have contributed towards this. There have been many wonderful dogs and breeders that have gone before us; we have been able to represent them in this achievement.
Silvae is one of the longest-established and most prestigious kennel names in the UK. Tell us a little bit about how you became involved with the kennel.
Our association with the Silvae kennel and its owner Mrs Jill Johnstone started when we used a Silvae stud dog. This unfortunately resulted in four cryptorchid dogs and our only bitch having to be spayed. It just so happened at the same time that Jill, who was in her 70s, was tripped in the ring by a dog she was handling, injuring her knee. Looking around the ring, she noticed my face and asked me to show the dog.
I must have done a reasonable job as a few days before the next show I received a phone call asking if I would handle again. As we no longer had anything to show I started to handle full time and to help with coat preparation etc. We both became fully involved with Jill and the dogs, spending all our weekend at Drakes Broughton and most of our school holidays. We learnt so much just helping out and talking about dogs. We took Jill to the shows as she could no longer do the drives. I spent many hours preparing dogs for the ring and learning how different each dog was and how to show dogs that had never been trained for the ring. We talked for hours long into the winter evenings over a sundowner about breeding and plans for the future.
Jill was keen to attend the big Dachshund Club of America competitions as we began our search further afield for a new stud dog. After a number of years we were asked by ‘Mum’ (her mother Mrs Grosvenor Workman) if, when the time came, I would like to take on the Silvae kennel name with the hope that we would take it to a hundred years and a hundred champions. What an amazing accolade for us. We regard it as our duty to the breed, Jill and ‘Mum’ to breed carefully and present the best of them to the highest standard. (Which is a real challenge to juggle with my responsibilities as a head teacher).
Did you always feel Maisie was special? At what point did you start to feel confident that she could be successful in the ring?
Maisie had always shown signs of uniqueness from an early age. As a tiny puppy, she caught the eye; she was always the pushy one demanding your attention in such a delightful way. She seemed to be the complete dog, excellent construction and type, a super coat and movement and finally a confident and exuberant personality that we had had before but never to the same degree in the one dog. She loves life and is up for anything but, like most Dachshunds, she adds her own twist and does it her way. People passing our house often stop to look as she sits on the windowsill expecting to be noticed.
Was Maisie a winner right from the start? Please tell us a bit about her early show record
As soon as she came out, she made an impression, moving rapidly to her title and catching the attention of experienced judges, whose opinions we valued. At her second big show, Paignton, she won the puppy group. From then on she appeared regularly in the group and whatever the competition she was always there or thereabouts, overtaking her sister Trade Secret and brother Trader who was top male.
Were you very hopeful in the lead-up to Crufts that Maisie would do well?
As with all shows you can never really tell, but we were hopeful that after winning the group at LKA and that she was in peak condition she would contend up to group level but as I’ve said I never considered she would go all the way to Best In Show. Going to Crufts is our window to the world – it’s our chance to exhibit our dogs to all the world. Every year, my main goal is to prepare a number of dogs to the best of my ability and present them in the best condition that I can as well as I can, then all the rest is in the hand of the judges. The pressure is on well before the show in the preparation – not at the show; at the end of the day being in the ring and showing is no pressure, it’s the time to enjoy my time with my dog.
Did Maisie receive a special treat after her win?
She slept on the bed that night and she’s not missed a night since.
Do you think Maisie realised that something special was happening at Crufts?
She loves shows and the attention that she seems to attract. She is a very exuberant dog that loves the excitement and applause – she got plenty of that. She raises her game then.
What is Maisie like to live with? Does she have any little unique traits or characteristics?
She’s an absolute dream, she always makes me smile. She approaches life with the same exuberance she does when showing. That and her willingness to please makes her a pleasure. She does get herself to trouble at feeding time – she barks like crazy and has to be fed first – and she will steal anyone else’s food if she can. She loves going out walking with her kennel mates – she is always at the front and is determined to lead the way – keeping up with her is the problem. Her easy-going, confident temperament together with her downright cheekiness makes her a perfect dog to live with. But then again I would say that, wouldn’t I?