Updated: Mar 18, 2019
A week behind schedule but thought I would write down some thoughts on my visit to Crufts 2019 at Birmingham NEC, before going back to our regularly scheduled blog posts!
I finally was able to go to Crufts this year, after watching it on TV my whole life! I have very distinct memories from childhood of sitting crossed legged in front of the TV watching Mary Ray dance with her collies, well-dressed women and men parading various dogs, and a lot of pointing and posing. I even watched on catch-up or YouTube while living in America for 5 years!
But, thanks to my friend Lora and her Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, Vulric, I was in attendance this year! They were the perfect pair to guide me around the show and introduced me to a lot of different people.
Crufts is the biggest dog show in the world and attracts pretty much every breed of dog, every type of person, and every sort of dog commodity invented.
Thursday was the first day of Crufts 2019 and it was the Gundog breeds being judged.
Irish Setters were everywhere. All were lounging in their various cubbyholes waiting for their turn in the judging ring.
I also spent quite a bit of time meeting other breeds in their designated discover dogs area. Every breed from Bergamasaco's to Shit-Zu's were on display for you to meet, learn about and talk to owners and breeders.
My favourite to meet was a Beauceron. They were used to create the Doberman and originate from France as a herding breed. They have a double dew claw, and their coats are black and tan, or a dapple harlequin. Absolutely stunning. The ones we met had beautiful coats, full of personality, and their owners couldn't stop raving about them!
I was NOT prepared for what seemed liked miles and miles of stalls selling everything from treats to food to beds to accessories to specially designed cars, all for dogs. I knew there would be plenty of shopping but not on this scale. I got to chat to some company owners about their products, say hi to our friends at Butternut Box at their stall, and basically nose around for anything unusual and fun!
I didn't go too crazy on the purchasing but I did pick up some training treats from Pet Munchies, a new harness, some toys and a specially designed retrieval toy.
The one thing I was most looking forward to watching in the main arena was the West Midlands Police Dog display. Training police dogs was top of my career wish list when I was younger, and watching them in action is just incredible. The way these Malinois' and Shepherds launch themselves, without fear, with such incredible power is amazing. What is the most impressive of all is how they were so responsive to their handlers. They were gripping on hard to the sleeves of the 'suspects', and a quick command from their handler made them release and run immediately back to them for their toy reward.
Sadly, Mary Ray retired last year from Crufts and the freestyle to music show. But I did watch the winner of this years competition Lucy Creek with her dog Skiffle, who had choreographed a dance to Lord of the Dance.
There is a lot of debate about breeding in the dog world. I have swung both ways in this argument and continue to challenge myself on my belief. Working with Assistance Dogs, we rely so heavily on dogs that are PURPOSE bred for this role. They have been carefully selected through generations of dogs for their specific temperaments to fulfill the need of a Guide Dog/Hearing Dog/Assistance Dog. Dogs bred for pets should be healthy, fit and sold to an owner who knows exactly what they are getting and how to care for the specific breed. Unfortunately this isn't always the case, and many dogs are bred to be sold for looks rather than ensure you have a healthy dog (bulldogs in particular have suffered in our hands) which is where my hesitance for breeding comes in. However, at Crufts I know that judges are looking for healthy individuals of the breed which is fantastic.
Another great thing at Crufts which I didn't realize was that in 2012, Crufts introduced a clause that stipulated that "Best of Breed winners and champions in the 15 high profile breeds, which may have a tendency to suffer from health problems due to exaggerated features, will need to be vet checked before their awards are confirmed", which is a great step in the right direction for breeding. If you scroll down here you can see where they say this on the Crufts website.
All in all, an absolutely fantastic introduction to Crufts and will definitely be going next year!