At the Crufts dog show in Birmingham, England, last weekend, there were some touching moments and funny sights — and at least one very unexpected dance in the ring.
I was excited when my friend Sharon arrived with her two Great Danes on Sunday. One of her dogs, Bellamy, had taken a distinct liking to me last year at Pup Aid in London.
As excited as I was to see them again, I was also nervous. The day before, Sharon had asked if I would be interested in taking Bellamy in the ring for the Great Dane breed judging. I had never handled a dog in the ring before, yet she still thought I should give it a try. But at Crufts? Yikes!
I have watched breed judging so many times that I knew the routine — but going through the motions for real had to be much different.
After a few practices of standing and arranging Bellamy and a reminder from a neighboring owner/handler that “no one will be looking at you; they only look at your dog,” I was as ready as I would ever be. I clipped on Bellamy’s judging number sign, took a deep breath and walked onto the green carpet.
I fumbled Bellamy’s lead while also holding a drool rag and a small sausage to keep his attention. He must have had a few too many sausages in the benching area, because he wanted nothing to do with the one I was holding.
I wiped drool when I could see it and tried to keep a safe distance between him and the other dogs. A bump from a Great Dane behind him got him growling, so I did my best to keep him calm.
The waiting along the perimeter to reach the judge is long, slow and nerve-wracking. Besides trying to keep him calm (and he must have sensed my nervousness), I could not get him to stand in line as the other dogs were. His rear was pointing to the center of the ring, and I just accepted that this was how he was going to stand.
We made our way up to the judge, where I tried to keep Bellamy standing still and tall as the judge expected. A few runs with Bellamy around the ring and it was back in line.
Although Bellamy did not place in the breed judging, it was an experience I will never forget. But once was enough for me; I’ll leave it to the professionals from now on. To see a picture of Bellamy and me, check out this photo from the Dog Snapper photographer who happened to catch us in the benching area.
Other Observations From Crufts
Here are some observations from the final two days of this four-day event.
- An unexpected entry in the show or just a bored kid? As I walked through the benching area, I was surprised to find a boy — not a dog — in one of the stalls. Being surrounded by dogs is a dream come true for most kids (and let’s face it, adults too), but four days can take a toll on anyone. Let’s hope those batteries are fully charged now.
- All dogs passed their vet checks at Crufts this year and were allowed to advance to the group and Best in Show competitions. Notable in the approvals was a Clumber spaniel, the son of a dog that failed its vet check last year.
- Bernese Mountain Dogs fared extremely well at the show. One took first place in the Working Group competition, and the winner of the Breeder of the Year competition had showcased her four Bernese dogs to win that title.
- The jumpy Labrador known as Romeo (from Italy) took Best in Group for the gundogs, which came as something of a surprise. I couldn’t help smiling when the Weimaraner was chosen second.
- Becky, a 7-year-old mixed-breed dog from Northern Ireland, won the Scruffts Grand Final competition. Scruffts, the United Kingdom’s favorite cross-breed competition, holds trials throughout the previous year to determine the finalists. The event finale made its first appearance at Crufts this year.
- There was a “poop scoop” team on hand to pass out poop bags and educate owners about laws and how to help their communities clear the waste. Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club secretary, said, “The majority of exhibitors and visitors to Crufts are responsible dog owners and take their responsibilities very seriously; however, sometimes the call of nature still catches a few out.”
To give you an idea of how large Crufts truly is, here are some stats published by the Kennel Club:
- 149,500 people attended the show, which was held at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC).
- A total of 4.5 million people watched Crufts on TV.
- 145,000 hours of viewing were registered from the Kennel Club’s live internet stream.
- Well over 20,000 dogs were registered to compete.
- More than 200 breeds were showcased at the Discover Dogs exhibit within the show.
The Kennel Club staff members deserve a huge amount of respect and appreciation for organizing and executing what appeared to be a very large yet flawless event. The staff in the press room were extremely welcoming and helpful every day, and they made the show a wonderful experience. Thank you to James Skinner and the rest of the staff for your hospitality.
Here are the breeds that won their group judging to advance to the Best in Show finale:
- Terrier Group: Skye terrier “Lampard”
- Hound Group: Petit basset griffon vendeen “Jilly”
- Toy Group: King Charles Spaniel “Theo”
- Utility Group: Tibetan rerrier “Gabby”
- Gundog Group: Labrador Retriever “Romeo”
- Pastoral Group: Australian Shepherd “Tiffany”
- Working Group: Bernese Mountain Dog “Breeze”
The PBGV Jilly was chosen as the best in show winner, with the Lab Romeo taking Reserve Best in Show.
Photos From Crufts 2013
The amount of photographs (and videos) I took from the show took days to review and upload, but here are a few of my favorites. Click on each photo to enlarge it.
Videos From Crufts 2013
A Weimaraner begs — and gets — some strawberries:
A Hungarian vizsla and Italian spinone pass the time with some play:
Meeting dogs was a highlight for these little fans:
This Newfoundland defines drool:
Guide dogs Scooby and Lucy have some fun:
Two salukis get frisky in the benching area:
Photos: Kristine Lacoste/Petful