Sit­ting on the fence at Crufts

Let's Talk - - Contents -

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!

PHOTO: Joe Gid­dens/ PA Wire

Macy, the pomera­nian.

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