Sitting on the fence at Crufts
As I write, Crufts has completed the highlight of the canine world for the 126th time at the NEC.
Now whether you frequent the event or simply watch, you cannot fail to be impressed by the sheer spectacle of those dogs and owners.
The event began in 1886 when Charles Cruft, a Spratt’s dog biscuit salesman, was asked to stage a terrier only dog show, patronised by 570 entries.
This year Crufts had more than 24,000 entries. Down the years the human element has graced the event with a streaker in 2010; the murder of an entrant’s husband and the bizarre name of the 2007 best in show of ‘Araki Fabulous Willy’.
So whether you support this magnificent display of human and animal interaction or despise what it represents, it is here to stay.
Now I sit on the fence inasmuch as there is good and bad in this issue.
My view on owning a dog has nothing to do with the purity of breeding. I will explain by the way I would respond to the frequently asked question from the owner of a newly-acquired purebred puppy: ‘Do you know much about this breed?’
My response, honed by years of experience and a confidence that I could get away with such levity, is: “Well apart from the potential inherited defects of A, B or C, isn’t this the breed with a nose, two eyes, two ears, a leg at each corner and a waggy tail?”
There is to my mind a real issue which makes a gentle dig at and that is what Crufts seeks to engender at worst.
Yet, on the other hand, it promotes joy and pleasure, publicity regarding care for health and welfare, tremendous retail potential and a spotlight upon the magnificent bond between man and the most important domesticated animal.
I would never be the one to shout loud enough to change anything about Crufts (minus the apostrophe since 1974) but I am minded that to choose the best in show is a minefield, as I experienced when asked to judge at a local charity event.
I determined to find the owner who knew most about the welfare and care of their dog. I kept feeling drawn away from the obvious ‘winner’ to a little, reticent Pomeranian to whom I awarded first prize.
The crowd mumbled their appreciation and I went to congratulate my winner who proceeded to wrap herself in knots with her lead and, as I bent down, bit me on the hand!
Macy, the pomeranian.