After eight months, when the first qualifiers took place, little did we know that our King would be the first Indie dog to ever represent India at Crufts!
Countless dresses and collars had been tried on, tested and returned; finally I chose red and gold for Tommy and pink and purple for me.
We also went on a diet and I enrolled Tommy at swimming school to get his muscles really toned.
We have come far, Tommy and me, and this day was the day to show the world that the sky is the limit for a free-ranging dog from Anjuna!
Perfectly groomed and with our entourage in tow, we entered in style followed by a TV crew.
Finally we met our competition: The other five finalists that we were going to battle it out with.
I was sure it was going to be between Tommy and Fleur, the best rescue winner, a beautiful rescue from Romania. Scruffts loves a good story and being an inspiration for the 'underdogs'.
We all met and got to know each other as we prepared to enter the arena for a test run in front of the audience. King Tommy with his usual cool loved going into the limelight and all the crowds cheering us on.
After that we got whisked away to the media stand of the sponsors, the dog food company James Wellbeloved. In front of cameras and journalists we answered questions and Tommy posed like a King. The media loved hearing about his stories and how he posed for the cameras.
Wherever we went we had staff from the Kennel Club following us and showing us the way - we really felt like the superstars of Crufts! Private suite for lunch and special areas for resting - not that quiet, mind you, but as the day went along we realized that it wasn't just about the finals, it was as much the experience of being there and having all those fans meet our dogs and smile for the cameras. It was all quite overwhelming and a huge deal. But the clock kept ticking and eventually we got to that moment when we got escorted to the green room for the finals. We had been there the whole day and Tommy was starting to get tired. At 6 p.m. in the evening we had been in the Crufts madness for seven hours and I was quite tired too. Another finalist was fast asleep in the green room!
Oh well, let's do our best. Lights on, presenter and an arena packed with 6000 people, live stream out to the world, and the camera crew from the documentary all there.
When our name got called it was amazing, I couldn't help but smile when Tommy entered the arena with his usual strut and proud posture. Wow! And then the judges came on and the tough part began. This year they had chosen a sports figure, some famous rower, and a Kennel Club judge.
I told them as quickly as I could Tommy's story and all of his achievements, hoping that we would nail it. It was really nerve-wracking for me, and for Tommy, as usual, nothing seemed to faze him.
Once the judges had spoken to everyone I made Tommy do his 'show pose' for that last chance to impress, but they were very quick to decide and when the name of the winner was called out, a young boy with his dog, I really tried to hide my disappointment! Not our day today, but as we did our walk around the arena, I thought, 'OK, you wanna see a winner, here he is!' and Tommy did a fun strut just to show off!
It's easy to forget, that just because you don't win the finals, that you haven't won to get there.
To me the finals are just the icing on the cake. To go from 1600 dogs and be one of the final 6, and on top of that be 'Most Handsome Crossbreed Dog of the UK' is quite an achievement.
Throughout this journey everyone has loved Tommy and along the way we have taught people about Indian dogs and what special beings they are.
KING TOMMY THE BOOK
...'Because it is in this moment of a definitive farewell that we know
what someone means to us.
The act of wishing someone a good life even if it means us not
being a part of it is the purest act of love. To know what is best
'King Tommy' is an adventure novel based on the true story of King Tommy, the first Indian dog to become a Therapy Dog in the USA.
It is also a story of hope and change and seeing change through.
Emotions run high in this whirlwind story where three characters will have their lives changed for the better by helping Tommy, a small Indian dog who is born in Goa.
Garati, a young Indian bride takes care of this small puppy and his mother during the first monsoon rains. Abused by her husband she dreams of a better life and to do something with herself. Lauren, on a journey across the world to escape the pain and guilt of not being able to save her family, lands in Goa with the intention of turning her life around. Jerome, a self-obsessed yoga teacher with outrageous doctrines, dreams of America and fame.
How will they make sure this little dog ends up where he needs to be?
For each book sold a donation will be made to the King Tommy Foundation, which sponsors small NGOs and private individuals who help free-ranging dogs in rural areas.
For Indian readers I have made a special price, INR 690, postage included from the UK.
Order your copy on www.kingtommy.org and choose the 'India Special Offer' payment option.
Story: Monique G Nerman
Photos: Tony Vickers, Deb Bridges
Please do not use images or content from this site without permission and acknowledgment