If you love dogs then Crufts really is like all your Christmases rolled into one. And much like Christmas, you can’t believe a year has passed since the last one and then it’s over before you know it. And working in the press office involves eating far more chocolate than is remotely healthy.
The biggest present on offer of course is the Best in Show title and just one dog can be bestowed with the honour of becoming Crufts champion. The last two competitors for the final came from the Working and Pastoral groups. Ferelith Somerfield judged the Working group and chose Ch Meadowpark Whispers Breeze, owned by Bernice Mair and her daughter Carole Hartley-Mair from Rochdale, Lancashire and handled by Gary Dybeall. The win capped a remarkable weekend for the mother and daughter duo, who last night won the Kennel Club Breeders’ Competition.
The final dog in the Best in Show line up was Ch Allmark Fifth Avenue JW, the Australian Shepherd owned by Neil Allan and Robert Harlow from Oakham, Rutland and handled by Angie Allan, who won the Pastoral group which was judged by Jeff Luscott.
All eyes then turned to the Best in Show and this year it fell to Geoff Corish to choose between the seven group winners from four days of wonderful competition. After a competition to savour, Geoff picked Ch Soletrader Peek A Boo, the Petit Basset Vendeen Griffon owned by Sara Robertson and Wendy Doherty and handled by Sara’s husband Gavin following its triumph in the Hound group all the way back on Thursday. It was always planned to be Jilly’s last appearance in the show ring so what greater high to go out on?
Of course, there was much, much more to enjoy on the last day of Crufts 2013, not least in the Arena. The always heart-warming and often tear-jerking Friends For Life competition winner was announced following the public vote over the past four days. This year’s worthy winners were three-legged dog, Haatchi and seven year old Owen Howkins.
Haatchi had to have a leg amputated after being tied to a railway line and hit by a train. Just a month later, he was found at a rescue centre by Owen’s dad, who gave him a new home to give a new lease of life to Owen, who is wheelchair bound due to a rare genetic condition called Schwartz Jampel Syndrome which causes his muscles to be permanently tense. Haatchi has turned Owen’s life around since and the pair truly are an inspiration to all.
With such great winners in the evening, there’s hardly time to mention the rest of the day but congratulations to Tayla Butler, the younger sister of Britain's Got Talent winner, Ashleigh Butler, and her dog Gucci who were chosen as the winners of the second ever Crufts Factor by Olympic swimmer Mark Foster, That Dog Can Dance winner, Lucy Heath and BBC London’s Jo Good.
And now, after a rather breathless but truly wonderful final day, it’s time to take down the proverbial tree and pack everything away for another year. A very happy Crufts-mas to you all – roll on next year!