As an avid dog lover I hope the sight that greets me after I have climbed the stairway to heaven is similar even by a small degree to the one I was greeted with at the World’s Greatest Dog Show.
By Published on 12 Mar 2019
Naturally, at Crufts you will see oodles of dogs. But that is not a statement of hyperbole: dogs rule the event and they are everywhere. The small ones with irrefutably precise haircuts, the medium-sized ones rarely heard of, and the giant shaggy ones parting the crowds as they meander through the arena’s numerous stands.
A day in the life of a Bedlington
Saturday is an early start for the Yorkshire-based ‘husband and wife’ Bedlington Terriers Harold and Sheena. They travelled with their owner for the majority of the previous day and are now up at 6am getting ready to leave their hotel. Of the competitors, time-keeping is everything: all dogs are expected to arrive at the NEC arena for 7am sharp.
‘Crufts is hard work,’ their owner (who didn’t want to be named) tells me. ‘Once we register we can’t go anywhere until 4pm, which is when the last paying customer leaves. It’s a long day.’
Dogs and their handlers are expected to man their ‘bench’ for 90% of the day they are exhibiting. If they don’t win a group, which was the case with the lady I spoke to, a day can seem like an eternity.
With no prize money even for the Best in Show I ask the handler what it is that tempts her to return to the show year after year. ‘The social aspect, the love of dogs and the passion to compete,’ she tells me; reasons that seem to be shared by many others.
Let’s make no bones about it, for sponsors such as Eukanuba Crufts is about the money (and lots of it) from advertising and product sales. But for those that take part, Crufts clearly means something more.
Like it or hate it…
Crufts isn’t for everyone. The weeks that follow the exhibition are invariably peppered with grave debates about its worthiness as a dog show and how it impacts on the health and wellbeing of the canine competitors. Predictably, this year a PETA demonstrator disrupted the Best in Show competition.
That being said, I saw no sign of cruelty and in fact I have never seen dogs so well-cared for. Remember, at least the dogs of Crufts are protected and looked after. On the streets of the UK it is estimated that there are at least 100,000 stray dogs: living beings left abandoned by irresponsible owners. It is in the hands of these people that true cruelty lies.
Visit Crufts 2019 to learn more about the four day event.