Getting Out Of The Ring – Crufts 2016 Part Two
Crufts is all about dogs, not just the ones pimped and preened for the show ring. Little ones, big ones, old ones, young ones, rescued ones, working ones, life saving ones and totally normal, ordinary ones, like the one you have snoring on the sofa at home.
It is a show but it is not all about showing.
It is about shopping.
There are stalls here selling everything you could ever think of for your dog, and plenty that you wouldn’t. Does your pooch have his own dressing gown? Personalised wardrobe? Wormery for his poo? No? Then clearly you are neglecting them and you need to get the credit card out!
How about you? Do you own tea towels, tea cosies, pictures, cushions, figurines, blankets, and loo roll holders with your favoured breed on? Is your wardrobe lacking comedy t-shirts about your dog or a bag covered in a tasteful, yet colourful montage of canines? Yes? Then you need to get down there and kit out your house and wardrobe.
It is about the Kennel Club.
They don’t just do showing. Did you know they run an extensive rescue network? Provide advice on how to buy a good quality puppy and avoid the puppy farmers? Have created a program to help both breeders and new owners socialise their new dogs to ensure they are able to cope with modern life. Run the agility, fly ball competitions, working trials and the Young Kennel Club scheme to encourage children into the dog world? Obviously there are other ways of getting into activities with your dog but the KC have got pretty much all the bases covered and are somewhere to start!
It is about rescues.
There was a huge rescue presence at the show. All the big centres were there (even the Cats Protection had a stand – but, sensibly, no actual cats!), talking to the public, educating them on responsible dog ownership and encouraging them to consider rescue. Remember that not everyone at Crufts will have a dog, many people use it as a way of finding out more about them. Most Kennel Club breed clubs run rehoming services for their breed and many of them were on Discover Dogs and even by the actual ringside. Proving that ‘showing people’ aren’t just in it for their dogs, but for all of them. (Mostly!).
It is about charities.
Every dog charity you have ever heard of, and plenty you hadn’t, were there. Ones that help dogs in this country, plenty that help dogs abroad and many more that get the dogs to help us, not the other way around! We have all heard of the Guide Dogs but what about Hearing Dogs, Support Dogs and Medical Detection Dogs. Not to mention the Fire and Police dogs that were there. Some of these charities breed their own dogs but many take them from rescue and train them up. A real win-win.
It is about people.
And all the ways we can have fun with and build up great relationships with our dogs. You can watch agility with everything from the ubiquitous Collies to tiny Pomeranians and cross-breeds of all shapes and sizes. You can watch working dog demonstrations, support dogs helping their owners, police dogs catching the bad guys and, of course, the dancing dogs at all stages of expertise.
There is so much more to Crufts than the headline grabbing pedigree controversy and I would urge any dog lover to go at least once to experience it.
We need regular, normal non-showing obsessed people to go, to keep the focus of the show on dogs in all their guises and to ensure the glare of public opinion is shone on the show rings, which is the only way to keep the excesses and extremes of the breeders and judges under control.
But bring your credit card and sensible shoes!