125 YEARS OF CRUFTS
By Ann Evans
Photos: Rob Tysall, Tysall’s Photography.
Doggies and their proud owners the world over will be preparing for some extra grooming and preening as the world’s largest dog show looms ever closer. Crufts takes place March 10th – 13th at the NEC Birmingham and this year marks its 125th anniversary.
Around 22,000 dogs of all shapes and sizes will be taking part, vying for the ultimate accolade of being judged Best In Show. Last year the coveted trophy was awarded to Knopa, a five year old Scottish Terrier. But originally in the very early days of Crufts, dogs would compete for the honour of being Best Champion at Crufts. In 1905 the first Best Champion was a Pomeranian called The Sable Mite. Later, in 1928 when this event became known as Best in Show, the winner was a Greyhound named Primeley Sceptre.
Crufts is named after its founder Charles Cruft (1852-1938) who began his working life with James Spratt who had started a new business in London selling ‘dog cakes’. Ambitious Charles became a travelling salesman for the company which brought him into contact with large estates and sporting kennels. In 1878 he travelled to Europe where French dog breeders invited him to organise the promotion of the canine section of the Paris Exhibition. Later, back in England in 1886 he took up the management of the Allied Terrier Club Show at the Royal Aquarium, Westminster. And in 1891 he organised the first ever Cruft’s show at the Royal Agricultural Hall in Islington. There were 2,437 entries and 36 breeds. From then on the show evolved and grew into the largest and most famous dog show in the world.
Crufts however is not just about winning rosettes, it’s a show that celebrates all dogs, not just show dogs, but working dogs, companion dogs, the wonderful dogs that help us humans in so many ways and our very own pet dogs.
Canine assistance charities and organisations are on hand to show the public the brilliant work these dogs are trained to do. Such as Guide Dogs for the Blind, Hearing Dogs, Dogs for Good (formerly Dogs for the Disabled), PAT Dogs, Assistance Dogs, and many many more. Many of the dog rescue centres are represented; there are demonstrations of activities you can enjoy with your own dog, such as agility, obedience, flyball and Heelwork to Music. For junior dog owners, they can learn all about the Young Kennel Club which is for young people aged between 6-24. For youngsters who love dogs, this is the ideal way of making new friends, develop their love of dogs and acquire new skills.
You can also learn about the Good Citizen Dog Scheme which is the UK’s largest dog training programme. And there are 400 trade stands for you to browse and perhaps take something home for you and your canine best friend. In the Discover Dogs area, you can see and learn about all the different breeds, including the unusual and the vulnerable breeds. In fact the show is packed full of fun, excitement and all the advice a dog lover needs.
But don’t panic if you can’t make it to the show as you’ll be able to follow it on Channel 4 and More4 television with Clare Balding at the helm throughout the four day show who will be joined by TV presenter and former Olympic athlete, Iwan Thomas and Channel 4’s very own ‘Supervet’, Noel Fitzpatrick.
Caroline Kisko, Secretary of the Kennel Club, which runs Crufts, said: “This year is the 125th anniversary of Crufts. The show holds such a special place in dog lovers’ hearts because it celebrates everything that we love most about dogs, and Channel 4 and More4 will reflect on how the show has grown over the years and the many different aspects of the event.
“The TV coverage not only brings exciting sports such as agility and flyball into people’s homes, but it enables people to see the diverse range of wonderful dog breeds, including the most vulnerable native breeds and unusual breeds that are not often seen in the streets and parks across the country, through the dog show aspect of Crufts. It also covers topics about choosing, caring for and enjoying life with dogs, as well as different issues affecting dog owners in the UK.”
Crufts also brings to our attention those very special stories of canine companionship in the face of adversity. And one of the highlights of the show will be the results of the annual Eukanuba Friends for Life competition, run by the Kennel Club. Four dogs have been shortlisted after being selected by a panel of judges, including dog-loving actor, Martin Clunes, for their outstanding loyalty to their owners and for the way that they have irrevocably changed their lives.
The public can read their heart warming stories on the Crufts website and see videos of the dogs and the people involved, and vote for the dog they think the most worthy. The dog that wins the most votes will win the competition, with the winner being announced on the Sunday in the main arena.
The finalists are: An autism assistance dog which stopped a seven year-old boy biting himself in frustration and shutting himself off in his own world; a Labrador which saved his teenage owner twice from going into a potentially fatal diabetic coma; a Lurcher giving his owner a reason to live again following complications in pregnancy that left her unable to have children; and a dog helping his owner who considered taking her own life following depression caused by bullying.
For the full stories of these finalists as well as full details of the Crufts 125th show, plus all the necessary information about booking tickets please visit: http://www.crufts.org.uk/
We hope to bring you more on Crufts next week.