Crufts 2015: All About Our Pawsome Day.

JUST A LITTLE NOTE: Many of you by now will already know of the sadness and cloak of darkness surrounding Crufts this year. There are some important points that need to be, and that I want, to address. However, when my friend Susie and I attended we were blissfully unaware of the circumstances that were to come. It’s difficult, since I am writing retrospectively, to not think of all this when documenting our day but I feel it only fair to separate these topics. I do not think that the disgustingly deplorable actions of a few vile ‘humans’ should be allowed to completely overshadow the astonishingly good and amazing examples of the bond between dog and human, that most of us visit Crufts to enjoy.

Now on with the fun…

crufts agility pano

FRIDAY 6 MARCH | 2015
Hurray! The day finally arrived. It felt like it never would. We chose to attend Crufts on Friday this year, as I’m sure I have mentioned before there are so many ways to pick which day is best for you. Friday (and they do swap them around every year, just so you know) was ‘Working and Pastoral’ day, which meant that they were the dog ‘groups’ being judged that day, for entry into Best in Show on the Sunday. So why didn’t you go on ‘Terrier and Hound’ day or ‘Toy and Utility’ day? I hear you ask… well, because generally, for me, the actual ‘showing’ parts of Crufts are the bits I find least interesting. Oh, I love to see all of the different breeds and hear about who wins their ‘group’ or ‘Best in Show’ of course, but actually sitting and watching it happen? Nah, are you kidding me? There’s so many more exciting things to see and do… So I do those instead.
There was also a slight hope that going on a ‘school day’ would maybe, hopefully, mean fewer people too…

Around and about a

…just so you know, that’s a tiny strip of one of the FIVE halls, heading towards closing time ๐Ÿ˜‰

Not to worry, for a more professional look at what it actually look like out there, why not let Reamus show you:

SO WHAT DID WE DO?
Well, since the Birmingham NEC is a good three hour journey away by car, you might have thought that we pinned our itinerary down to minute detail on the way? Erm. We had a look at the agenda and decided the parts we definitely, absolutely, couldn’t miss, and pretty much agreed to play it by ear.
For Susie, the most important thing was to lay her hands on some fur and cuteness. Not a problem, heading on over to the ‘Discover Dogs’ area in Hall 3 it was then. And for me, I particularly wanted to see some doggies dancing, so the activities in the ‘Arena’ were also a must. So, that’s where we headed first, since getting a good seat is important and ‘Heelwork to Music’ (dancing doggies!!!) started quite early.

HEELWORK TO MUSIC

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I appreciate that the concept of Heelwork to Music, and in fact just seeing a random image of it in practice, seems pretty bonkers. Describing it to people, doesn’t make you sound any more sane either, to be honest. BUT this activity is fun with bells on! You just get sucked right in, or at least I do. The dogs LOVE it, you can see it in their little faces and with every wag of their tail… as well as the odd little bark (that they take marks off in scoring for… I still haven’t found out why, but I will).
*Sigh* Here’s a little link to exactly what we watched in the arena that day… if you can hear sobs of joy coming from the audience, it’s probably me…

Ok so… when the competition had ended (and I’d composed myself as the last one was particularly sad) there was a handy break. It was handy because otherwise you’ll just stay there all day. So we made ourselves move.

DISCOVER DOGS
Crufts is a dog-shoppers dream! But to be fair, although we like to have a little browse and hopefully pick a few bits up, it’s the least important thing for either of us. I mean, we’d be in serious trouble if we didn’t go back with ANYTHING but we tend to scour the halls on our way to do other bits and pieces. This works out fairly well, since The Arena is in Hall One and Discover Dogs is right at the back of Hall Three… You’ve covered half of it right there.

I’m sure I’ve explained before what exactly Discover Dogs is, but in case you’ve forgotten, it’s basically ALL the dog breeds, in group and alphabetical order with their owners/breeders. You can go up, have a stroke and a cuddle if you’re lucky, and find out all about the breed. Some stands even have print outs with information, which is so handy if you are actually researching. For Susie and I though, it’s basically all about the cuddles.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Don’t be alarmed, those pens/crates are actually a lot bigger than they look. It’s not very easy to get a lot of great photographs and it’s ALWAYS very busy, but this is the best place to get your hands on some puppies at Crufts!

AROUND AND ABOUT
There are always plenty of dogs around and about here though, you often see people walking one by, and as dog owners they sense your eagerness and will usually stop and let you meet and greet. After we had our fill of paw shakes and cuddles we (read: the dogs went home) we moved on again, throughout the halls and stalls and stands. By this point, I think we were both really tired and when we turned a corner I thought I was hallucinating. Everywhere I looked there was a Labrador or a Retriever, I decided to follow the trail just in case and this is what I spotted…

medical detection dogs

This photograph does not do the situation any justice, I swear, beautiful yellow coats were all over the place. It turns out these dogs aren’t just pretty faces though, they are life savers! Heroes. Official name being; ‘Medical Detection Dogs’ and their charity was receiving an award so they all decided to grace the photo-op, isn’t that lovely?

We didn’t get much further along before I thought my mind was playing tricks on me, again.

MDH 1aI thought Myfie and Ellie had donned their disguises and followed us to Birmingham!
These two cuties, actually are from Manchester and Cheshire Dogs Home, though. After the tragic events in 2014 which I am sure you all remember so well MCDH were invited along to represent at Crufts. They decided it would be a great idea, so they could thank personally so many of us who donated. The gentleman I spoke to was lovely, and the emotion in his voice as he spoke revealed just how much, each and every bit of help had meant to them all. It was so lovely to see these beautiful, happy pups, having so much fun.

Manchester Dogs' Home 1a

Manchester Dogs' Home 2a

Well, and much-needed rest ๐Ÿ˜‰

MDH 3aWhich is exactly what we needed too, more specifically our feet needed a rest!

AGILITY
We headed back to the Arena to watch some talented pooches using up their energy in a much more productive way then we could manage. I love watching the sporting events, agility and flyball both get your adrenaline pumping, and again, the dogs just seem to be having SO much fun! Unlike with the very serious :p Heelwork to Music competition, these pups get NO points deducted for shouting their heads off along the way… and so they do! And it’s great.

Agility 1a

SCRUFFTS 2015
Scruffts, sponsored by James Wellbeloved, is the nationโ€™s favourite crossbreed competition. Scruffts was launched back in 2000 at the Discover Dogs Show and is now celebrated with the grand final at Crufts. We were lucky enough to see the finalists and hear their stories, all so beautiful and deserving, and then watch the winner take their trophy.

The lovely, Gracie in the Golden Oldie Category took this years Crossbreed of the Year title.

Stuart-Winter-with-Alison-and-Gracie-562560

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

AND THEN WE WENT HOME.
Our day had just about come to a close, but on the way out we remembered a few things we had seen while we ‘weren’t shopping’ and thought we’d end the day on a high note; with presents to take back to Dinx, Myfie, Ellie and Millie our very own ‘Best(s) in Show’ no matter what any judge thinks. So there!

I realise this post is ridiculously long and full of links and pictures etc. but believe me, I cut SO much out! If you can stand to see any more I’ll be uploading the rest of the photos to our Facebook page where you can peruse at your leisure! Have any questions for us? Pop them in the comments, and let us know which event you would have made a bee-line for!

Thanks, as always, for reading,
Carrie and Pups x

What? you want a reward for reaching the end? Oh go on then… this will make you laugh. Here are some dogs, being dogs, ay Crufts:

Advertisements

Black & White Sunday: Sorry to ‘buggy’ you

Crowd Maltese Buggy

This lovely little lady is a Maltese, called Tinkerbell. We met her as she was being pushed around the crowds in her very own doggy chariot at Crufts. You can’t see her buggy here because personally I thought that she was more beautiful than the her transport.
I am aware that my last few posts (and they have been sparse this week too, sorry) have been Crufts related, but I wanted to post this last (probably) image to let you know that if you are interested, you can see all of my favourite shots from the day:

Here on our Facebook Page and also on Flickr. Thanks for letting me ‘buggy’ you with all of my Crufts ‘tails’ ๐Ÿ™‚ … I know, I know that was hideous, sorry!

 

 

THIS IS A BLOG HOP! Black and White Sunday is lovingly hosted by Sugar and Nola

nolasugar_bwbadge_pm

<!– start LinkyTools script –>

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!