Friday, 30 March 2018


Whippet Tease with owner Yvette Short

Attending Crufts each year is one of our favourite jobs here at Words & Images. Both of us are big dog lovers and in our element  amongst so many happy dogs. 

The highlight of course, is the judging of Best in Show. Around 21,000 dogs had been judged over the four days, and the top dogs from each of the seven groups came into the arena to great applause. The judge was Jill Peak, and breaking tradition, the winner and runner-up were announced in reverse order.

Winner, Tease the Whippet and runner up, Gundog Pointer, Kanix Chilli.
Everyone waited with baited breath to see who Ms Peak would select, and finally the Gundog pointer champion Kanix Chilli was announced as the reserve Best in Show – and then Tease, a Whippet from Edinburgh owned by Yvette Short was announced as the Best in Show to rapturous applause.
However, Tease had only just set foot on the podium when protesters tried to disrupt proceedings. Yvette Short moved to keep her dog safe, while a Kennel Club official ensured the protesters didn’t get their hands on the coveted trophy. The chaos was over in seconds, and the protesters were led away, leaving Tease and Kanix Chilli to enjoy the limelight they so rightly deserved.

Protesters were swiftly removed.

Over the 4-day show, there were many displays such as agility, obedience, Heelwork to Music and displays showing how dogs are helping people. One such event which took place on the Sunday evening in the Genting Arena was the Friends for Life competition. This annual event was a celebration of dogs who have changed people’s lives in their own unique ways.

More than 300 people entered their dogs into the competition and the five finalists in the 2018 Crufts Hero Dog Awards were welcomed into the arena. Their stories were re-told over the large screens before the announcement of who the public had voted for as overall winner.

The award went to Vanessa Holbrow and her rescue dog Sir Jack Spratticus. Jack had also had a very bad start in life, but had changed Vanessa’s life by helping her deal with complex mental health illnesses. They won £5,000 to donate to their chosen charity, which was Border Terrier Welfare where Jack was rescued from in 2012. The prize was presented by former Spice Girl Geri Horner.

Read all the finalist’s stories here:

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.

Heroes PC Healy and Mojo

PC Healy and Mojo had to work around the deceased and seriously injured checking for other unexploded devices and making the area safe for emergency services and the public. They were later joined by other search dogs but continued working tirelessly in horrendous and traumatic conditions throughout the night, clearing the area until 7am. On their way home they responded to another call to investigate another suspicious device. Chief Constable Rod Hansen, head of the police dogs in England made the presentation to these true heroes.  

There was a very entertaining demonstration of agility, obedience and special training by the RAF Police Military Working Dog Display Team. The dogs showed off some excellent skills as they were put through their paces, including scaling a vertical seven-foot wall.

RAF Police dogs in action.

Everyone’s favourite event is Mary Ray and her amazing Heelwork to Music displays. A few years ago we were fortunate enough to interview Mary at her home, for Dogs Monthly magazine, where she talked about her lifelong love of dogs. Once again, for Crufts Mary put on a show-stopping performance - as she has done for the 25 years. However, this year was Mary’s final Crufts. She performed a fantastic routine with her dogs, Lyric and Frankie, and was joined by obedience and heelwork to music expert, Richard Curtis. There were clips shown on the big screen of Mary’s past routines, and at the end of her final performance she was joined by her husband Dave and sister Pauline for a final farewell.

Mary Ray's last Crufts performance.

Having also interviewed Richard Curtis in the past for Dogs Monthly, it was great to catch up with him at the show. Richard is one of the UK’s leading Heelwork to Music/Canine Freestyle handlers. He’s a renowned competition judge and dog handler. He told us that he's been busy doing three demonstrations per day with his dogs Betty an 8-year-old Chihuahua cross and Herbie a 3-year-old Border Collie. To the delight of the crowds, Richard demonstrated how to get started in Heelwork to Music Freestyle with your dog, doing simple tricks and moves. He put on a brilliant, fun performance that showed the wonderful rapport he has with his dogs. Betty and Herbie loved it, and the audience did too.

Richard Curtis with Betty and Herbie.

The Discover Dogs area at Crufts is the perfect place to learn more about the different breeds, especially if you're thinking of getting a dog or puppy. The Kennel Club currently recognise 218 breeds. Top of the popularity stakes are the Labrador, the Cocker Spaniel, the French Bulldog and the Pug. While at the other end of the scale there is a list of Vulnerable Native Breeds. These are the dogs whose status in the dog world has diminished over recent years, and whose numbers are declining. The Vulnerable Native Breeds list breeds which have achieved 300 or few registrations in a year.

Surprisingly, since 2015 the Bearded Collie has been on the list. In 2016 only 284 dogs were registered. Compare this to 33,856 Labrador Retriever puppies over the same period. However, for Bearded Collie lover, Gail from Chesterfield, there was only one breed for her. She happily gave 4-year-old Ember a hug before taking her into the show ring.

Gail and Ember.

Skye Terriers are also on the Vulnerable list, with only 28 pups registered with the Kennel Club in 2016. However, the Skye Terrier which takes its name from the Isle of Skye which lies on the northwest coast of Scotland is said to be the oldest terrier breed of Scotland, going back to the 14th century at least. We asked the very handsome Merlin aged 9 to pose for the camera and 20-month-old Pasha.

Skye Terrier Merlin.

Skye Terrier Pasha.

With so many gorgeous dogs to meet, one that caught my eye was Taz, a Lagotto Romagnolo, which is quite new to our shores. The breed originates from Italy, and the word ‘Lagotto’ is an Italian dialect word for ‘curly coated duck retriever’ and Romagne was the district in northern Italy where the breed developed. Environment changes in the 20th century diminished their duck retrieving days. However, their acute sense of smell means that they are now used in truffle hunting in their homeland.

Taz, a Lagotto Romagnolo.

Towards the end of the final day, it was lovely to meet some of the owners whose dogs may not have made Best in Show, but were champions in their eyes. Such as Roger and Maureen Millbank of Bath who were delighted with to be taking home another rosette won by their beautiful Flat Coated Retriever, 3-year-old Hamish, or to give him his pedigree name – Kvsans Eye of the Storm off Larksdown. 

Roger and Maureen with Hamish, a Flat Coated Retriever.

Sit back and enjoy some more pin-up pooches!

Canadian Eskimo Dog.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Buster.

Bert, a Papillon, love those ears!

Who says dogs can't smile?

Or frown!

Lakeland Terrier, also on the Vulnerable Native Breeds list.

Norwich Terrier.

Wilf, a Bullmastiff.

Ava, an American Spaniel.

And Best in Show once again.

Hope you enjoyed. 

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