Crufts 2014: So Much Woof

On Saturday, 8th March I attended the biggest and best dog show in the world*. Crufts began it’s journey back in 1891, and that’s not a typo. All of those years of experience have shaped Crufts into what it is today, which is different to a lot of people’s perceptions of it and the Kennel Club itself. Crufts is modern, bright, and fun with a capital squeeee!

I’m not qualified to talk about breeding standards and issues, nor to pass much judgement either way. I have my opinions and concerns, I’ve watched the documentaries and read the articles, but on the back of that; I’ve seen change. I’ve seen change for the better, and I don’t think this is where it stops. Crufts gets bigger and bigger every single year, and with that; it’s arms stretch wider. It truly is a celebration of dogs, ALL dogs; pedigrees with exemplary lineage, rescues whose histories we’ll never know and good old mutts that are a mixture of (at least) those two things.

In fact most of the things that I went to see on Saturday (I’m getting to it, honest) included each of those examples. Pedigrees and mixed breeds both definitely qualify as being dogs. And if you are a dog then there are loads of events you can be part of at Crufts.

Arena crowd

When we arrived, we made our way straight to the Arena where all the large events happen. Saturdays, as you can imagine, are insanely busy so you need to save yourself a seat pretty early on if you want to catch the action.We made it just in time to see some large dog agility. I love watching agility. Seeing those happy, healthy pooches flying around, jumping about and in most cases yapping along in glee, makes my heart sing.

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Here is a link to some of the best from the rescue agility trials, that I didn’t see, but wish I had:

We stayed on for the International Freestyle competition, that’s basically doggy dancing for those of you who are unsure. When I went to Crufts last year, for the first time, I was lucky enough to see this too and it stayed with me. So it was one of the things I was desperate to see this visit, and it didn’t disappoint.
I know, it sounds crazy, and when you watch it on the television; it looks pretty crazy sometimes, too. But there’s something about being there, watching it in that environment that takes your breath away. I’m among friends here, so I don’t mind saying, I teared up on a few occasions. Yes, really.
It’s not the beauty of the dancing. Bless them, these dogs can cut some serious shapes but I don’t think any of them pull off beauty and grace. It’s not even the emotional interpretation of sad music, which some do choose, but I can say with certainty that When I’m Cleaning Windows by George Formby or Poker Face from Lady Gaga have never, ever made me well up before! I think it’s because it really is all about the dog, in fact, that’s part of the judging criteria; that the dog remains the centre of attention at all times. Yet, through that you see an absolute bond between the handler and the pooch that (in my opinion) is more apparent than in any of the other activities. The dogs genuinely seem to love it, probably a bit more than their nervous handlers. Although, there was one dog; Denmark’s competitor, whose nerves got a bit too much for him on the day. He didn’t want to come out and dance, so you know what? They didn’t. I imagine it was sad and really disappointing for the handler, but the feeling around us was admiration. It was further proof, if needed, that these dogs are not forced into anything. She made absolutely the right call. Ms. Denmark, we salute you.

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Highlights of the winning routing from Richard Curtis and Syka for England:

The next activity on the agenda, was a rather solemn but awe-inspiring one. A demonstration from the RAF Display Team. They reenacted some situations that these brave dogs tackle in the field. An arena full of thousands of people didn’t faze these brave pups. And they were the only living things in the place that didn’t jump a mile every time a gun was fired. Just incredible.

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The final thing we saw in the Arena was the Flyball Teams semi-final. I’d never even heard of flyball before watching last years Crufts coverage, so if you have never seen it either, do look it up. The teams of dogs and their handlers are polar opposites to the show dogs, it’s quite amusing, They are a right rowdy bunch. The noise levels in the place skyrocketed on their arrival. All were dressed in bright team colours, some of the dogs were even sporting dyed fur leg warmers to match. The handlers shout, bellow and call the dogs and the pups shout right back. The crowd are encouraged to get noisy too, cheer on the dogs. It’s bedlam, basically, but it’s fast and so much fun.

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Photographs (especially rubbish ones because the dogs are traveling at the speed of light) do NOT do this event justice, clicky down here:

After that we reluctantly decided to leave the arena. You really have to pick your poison where Crufts is concerned, you literally can’t see EVERYTHING in one day. There just isn’t enough time. And since we were at Crufts, it would be extremely rude not to go and have some cuddles with some actual dogs! So we headed off to the Discover Dogs area in hall three. There are over 200 different breeds of dog on show in this place, all categorised by group i.e. Toy, Working, Pastoral etc. and then alphabetically. They are with their breeders/owners and you can go over and have a chat with them, but more importantly have loves from the dogs themselves and take loads of photos.

It’s worth mentioning if the idea of Discover Dogs doesn’t appeal, but you want to stroke some dogs; that there are plenty all around and at all times. Most of the owners are happy to stop and talk to you about their precious pooch and let you fall in love. Unless, they are being primped and preened. Then I would recommend admiring from afar. The dogs aren’t taken off somewhere out of sight to be prepared, they are right there in the stalls all throughout the venue.

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Crufts is held at the National Exhibition Centre (N.E.C) in Birmingham. It is an enormous place, with the big arena where concerts take place and FIVE ‘halls’ aside from that. Discover Dogs, with its 200+ dogs in their own stalls with the owners, takes up a little under half of Hall 3. As mentioned there are stations throughout where you will find the owners with their competing dogs, but the rest of the space is cram packed full with stalls for SHOPPING!

This photo shows just one section of Hall 5 with its stalls, I think it’s fair to say that if there is anything remotely related to dogs or owning dogs; you can buy it at Crufts. Finding where the stall is though is another matter entirely and getting to where you want to go through the crowds, is a definite challenge at peak times. Though, these photos were taken right at the end of the day.

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Sadly, we didn’t leave much time for shopping. We left it till last to make sure that we got the bits we really wanted to see in, and as we were milling around the stalls were closing around us. But I did manage to pick up some lovely treats for Myfie, Ellie and Millie as an apology for leaving them all day. I was also inspired to keep trudging on with my own plans, in the hope that one day I can take my little business to Crufts as a stallholder myself. Preferably taking people along so I can skip out here and there to see everything that the four-day, annual spectacular offers.

*Crufts calls itself the ‘Biggest Dog Show in the World’… yours might be just as good, though. Take it up with them, I say!

 

 

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29 thoughts on “Crufts 2014: So Much Woof

    • Oh Will and Eko, wouldn’t that be great? I guarantee you wouldn’t be disappointed! We need to swap places. You visit Crufts and I’ll visit one of your amazing parades!
      Hugs, Carrie (Myfie, Ellie and Millie) x

    • Thanks for reading Melissa. It is absolutely amazing, in a perfect world I would want to go every day of the four days and maybe then I would get to see it all! x

    • Thanks so much for sitting through that looong post. People do come from the world over and all are pleased they did, we’ll keep our paws crossed maybe you will get to visit one day!
      Hugs, Carrie (Myfie, Ellie and Millie) x

  1. Many thanks for sharing your crufts-adventure with me. It was a pleasure to watch the videos and to see the photos. I would like to visit crufts, maybe we really do it next year :o)

    • Thanks so much for stopping by. I’m so pleased you enjoyed it. Oh it would be brilliant if you did, there is just something about the atmosphere that photo’s and videos can’t capture. We’ll keep our paws crossed for you making it soon!
      Hugs, Carrie (Myfie, Ellie and Millie) x

  2. I am so jealous! I would love to watch all of those things in person, and the shopping was probably fantastic. I love dog show shopping. The Crufts videos of freestyle and agility every year are some of my favorites to watch.

    • It is amazing to see the activities right before your eyes, I felt so lucky to be there. Yes, some people literally attend the event for the shopping only and it’s easy to see why. Must plan more carefully next year!
      Thanks so much for stopping by,
      Hugs, Carrie (Myfie, Ellie and Millie) x

  3. How exciting! Sounds like a fantastic event — or multiple events, really — all in one huge place over the course of several days. Very interesting to read about the different types of performance and athletic events: Agility, International Freestyle competition, RAF Display Team, Flyball Tournament, etc. Westminster included an agility competition this year for the first time, but has mostly been about breed judging and conformation. Including other types of competition and events seems like a very positive trend and hopefully we’ll see more of this at traditional dogs shows here, rather than being separate events. The RAF Display Team was very interesting, particularly with a simulated small group of demonstrators and the sound of gunfire. Not sure if Westminster would ever have something exactly like that, but could envision a display of working dogs along the lines of a search and rescue demonstration to locate someone in a collapsed structure, or a dog using a piece of clothing to track someone missing, or perhaps to identity an object hidden in one suitcase among many suitcases, etc.

    The Discover Dogs area sounds terrific — Westminster does have a similar aspect in the “benching area,” where people can go and see the dogs up close as an educational effort. But the “Discover Dogs” name is much better and it sounds like more of an effort is made to promote this part of the show at Crufts. Would be great if Westminster were to make more of this opportunity for the public to learn about the different breeds. (AKC has a “Meet the Breeds” event here in NY as a separate event, but would be nice to see a bigger push at Westminster since this has such huge name recognition here.)

    Really enjoyed reading your report of the show — very thorough and informative — and the photos give a great sense of what was happening and what it was like to be there. So much woof, indeed!

    • Thanks so much Bill and Charley! Yes it really is like multiple events, you can stumble over different activities with every step you take, or that is how it seems. Ah it was actually agility that happened for the first time this year at Westminster? I must have read it wrong, I thought that it was that they always had it, but this was the first year they allowed mixed breeds as competitors. Wow! That’s massive, and you’re so right they really should trade on their name more and include all of the seperate events. By doing this, Crufts has a large international following so it would be bound to attract lots of visitors too!

      Yeah, I think Discover Dogs is a fairly new addition (don’t quote me though) but they also have their own separate event now, which is like a mini-Crufts, in November each year. It too, is an educational drive and families are encouraged to go along and find out which breed of dog is best for them etc. The Kennel Club have managed to save some breeds from ‘extinction’ through these type of events.

      I’d love to go to Westminster once day, just to see how the atmosphere compares etc…well, who am I trying to kid? I just want to be with ALL THE DOGS, EVERYWHERE! haha.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your comments with us, it means such a lot!
      Hugs, Carrie (Myfie, Ellie and Millie) x

    • Thank you so much, it means the world to me that you read and found it interesting. Pawesome is definitely the right word to describe this event. My photos and the vids really don’t do it much justice.
      Mahoosive Hugs, Carrie (Myfie, Ellie and Millie) x

    • The atmosphere is something else. oh and I had a cuddle with a Misaki look-a-like, I wanted to tell you. Have you ever been? No, the TV coverage isn’t the same but it does a really good, job! I love watching and think it’s great it’s on for so long. Big fan of Clare Balding too 🙂
      Hugs, Carrie (Myfie, Ellie and Millie) x

  4. You are so lucky to be there, we were able to catch a bit of the live stream on youtube, but the timing was quite challenging for us. Thanks for sharing the highlights! 🙂

    • Of course. It really would have been, hurray for them uploading the highlights though so hopefully you didn’t miss out on everything. Thanks for reading through my wall of text too, and I am not sure what a pingback is, but when I click it goes to you… so thank you so much.
      Hugs, Carrie (Myfie, Ellie and Millie) x

  5. Pingback: Friendly Friday |

    • Hey Mollie and Alfie! Thanks so much for popping by, I have just been drooling over some of your makes (do you make them with your own paws? or do Mum and Dad make then and you take all the credit? because that’s genius and definitely something my three little rascals would do).
      Crufts is brilliant and imagine all the treats they could get for you if they ever went? 😉
      Hugs, Carrie (Myfie, Ellie and Millie) x

  6. Pingback: Crufts 2015: Win Some Tickets, Yay! | pawedblog

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