HAVING a dog’s life started in Castle Hill 20 years ago for Cooranbong pet boarders Les and Chris Speerin.
‘‘That was when I entered my first dog grooming contest which also happened to be the first international grooming contest in Australia,’’ Chris said.
Two decades later and Chris and Les will be returning to Castle Hill this weekend for another international contest, only this time it won’t be organised by the Americans – it will be organised by themselves.
And this time Chris won’t be a novice. In fact, she won’t even be competing.
She is now an international judge in her own right and is the only Australian member of the prestigious International Judges Association.
‘‘I’ve judged contests in the USA, Europe and New Zealand,’’ said Chris, who has coached her own grooming team to challenge a team from New Zealand in August.
‘‘Our grooming school has created our five-strong Groom Team Australia, the only team anywhere that is fully sponsored. Our sponsor is Purina, a global pet food company,’’ Chris explained.
‘‘It’s hard to believe that our self-funded local pet grooming contest in 2010 attended by just 40 people has turned into an international show featuring top judges from six countries around the world and $40,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs,’’ she said.
The two-day event (August 18 and 19), will feature the first Les Poochs Poodle Challenge which by itself will have $27,000 in prizes.
‘‘Our Groom Team members will go through a qualifying contest at Purina groomQuest 2012 for selection to represent Australia at the world titles (the canine grooming equivalent of the Olympics) in Barcelona.
But Chris’s Groom Team Australia has its jaw firmly set on winning the Trans Tasman Cup.
‘‘New Zealand has it and we intended to take it away from them,’’ Chris said.