Introduction and photographs by Rob Tysall, additional words by Ann Evans.

Best in Show, Tease and owner Yvette Short. Photo courtesy of Rob Tysall

 

One of my favourite things to photograph has to be dogs. Having been a photographer for more years than I care to remember, I’ve taken countless photographs of dogs in all kinds of situations. From dogs working with the military and police forces, to dogs specially trained to help people with disabilities; from unwanted and abandoned dogs to pedigree pets; and from puppies to oldies.

 

 

American Spaniel, Ava

 

Not surprisingly, one of my favourite events of the year is Crufts. Not least because it highlights the many ways that dogs are helping mankind. If you’ve never been to Crufts, it’s not all about finding the best of breeds, for me it’s the hundreds of charity stands which show the work that these dogs are called on to do.

 

 

Taz, a Lagotto Romagnalo

 

For example, Dogs for Good, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Pets as Therapy, Medical Detection Dogs, Hounds for Heroes and many more.  And then there are the charity stands where people are helping lost, unwanted and abandoned dogs, such as Dogs Trust, the RSPCA, Dog Theft Action, the many animal sanctuaries who rely on the generosity of the public to keep going with their work.

 

 

Smartly does it. Photo courtesy of Rob Tysall

 

The show is full of amazing heart-warming stories that show the special bond between people and their dogs. Just take a look at the Friends for Life competition, and the Crufts Hero Dog Awards. In 2018 this award went o Vanessa Holbrow and her rescue dog, Sir Jack Sprattucus. Despite the little Border Terrier having a very bad start in life, he had changed Vanessa’s life by helping her deal with complex mental health illnesses. They won £5,000 to donate to their chosen charity, Border Terrier Welfare. The cheque was presented by former Spice Girl, Geri Horner.

 

 

Phil Healy and hero dog Mojo. Photo courtesy of Rob Tysall

Also, in 2018 a very special award was presented to PC Phil Healy and his police dog, Mojo. They were awarded the Crufts Humanitarian Action of the Year Award. PC Healy and Mojo were first on the scene at the terrorist attack on the Manchester Arena on 22nd May 2017 when 22 people lost their lives.

 

 

RAF Police dog scales a 7ft wall with easy. Photo courtesy of Rob Tysall

There are hundreds of trade stands selling everything for the dog – and its owner. Plus, there’s lots of entertainment with demonstrations of agility and obedience including special displays, such as one by the RAF Police Military Working Dog Display Team.

 

 

Mary Ray and Richard Curtis. Photo courtesy of Rob Tysall

 

The 2018 Crufts also saw the final performance of the very popular Mary Ray and her amazing Heelwork to Music displays, after 25 years of staging magical performances for Crufts. Mary was joined by obedience and heelwork to music expert, Richard Curtis.

 

 

. Richard Curtis acts the clown. Photo courtesy of Rob Tysall

The Discover Dogs area at Crufts is the perfect place to learn more about the different breeds. Such as where they originated from, and what their natural working role would have been – and in some cases, still is. Discover Dogs also offers the opportunity of talking to different breeders, which is particularly useful if you are thinking about getting a dog and wondering if a breed is right for you and your lifestyle.

 

 

Crufts Best in Show 2018 lineup. Photo courtesy of Rob Tysall

 

The highlight of the show is the judging of Best in Show. Around 21,000 dogs had been judged over the four-day event, with the top dogs from each of the seven groups take part in the final. The 2018 judge was Jill Peak who broke tradition, announcing the runner up – and then the winner.  Gundog Pointer champion Kanix Chilli was announced as the reserve Best in Show; and the Whippet Tease, from Edinburgh owned by Yvette Short was announced as the Best in Show.

Looking forward to the 2019 Crufts, organised by The Kennel Club runs from Thursday 7th March to Sunday 10th March 2019.  Details: www.crufts.org.uk