Today we salute our special friend Tomas, whom I have mentioned before when considering the heights to which dogs can soar in the world of top-class competition (a world, I should add, unknown to a small spaniel like me but of which dear old Barnaby has had some experience in his youth). Life in the show ring requires training, patience and the ability to show off one’s best attributes when others want and you may not especially feel like it. Success depends on many imponderables, like the taste and goodwill of the judge on the day and which of your adversaries turns up to be judged alongside you. Eventually, however, quality will out and the Challenge Certificate is yours: you are the best of your breed in the show. For dear Tomas this occurred for the first time a few weeks ago at the North of England Dalmatian Club Championship Show in Stafford, where he took pride of place as Best In Show, thus gaining the first of the three CCs he will need to become a champion. He is a magnificent dalmatian and one day we all hope he will find the right dam with whom he can bring healthy happy pups into the world. In this lovely picture, he is standing so well and amply demonstrating his fine features. Alongside him are what medieval warriors would call his achievements, to which an impressive silver cup will be soon added once his Kennel Club name – Dalleaf Devil’s Disciple – is engraved upon it. Well done, dear boy, we are so proud of you! I suppose this is a kind of Personal Announcement, the second over which I have pondered; the first being the death of Tomas’s grandmother, Abby, some weeks ago. She knew what it was to win and Tomas carries on the tradition of a winning line.