Famous animal lovers, Pam St Clement, best known as Pat Butcher from EastEnders, and national columnist and Celebrity Big Brother contestant, Samantha Brick are heading to Crufts to judge the crossbreed dog competition, Scruffts.
For the first time in its twelve year history, the final of the prestigious Scruffts Family Crossbreed Dog of the Year competition, run by the Kennel Club and sponsored by James Wellbeloved, is taking place at Crufts at the NEC in Birmingham. Special celebrity judges Pam and Samantha will join the four finalists, Alfie, Barley, Becky and Rascal, in the Crufts main arena when the competition takes place on Friday March 8th.
The four finalists secured their place after winning their class finals at Discover Dogs in London last November, beating almost 100 other contenders who had qualified at local heats held around the country. The finalists were selected from their respective categories: Prettiest Bitch (Becky), Most Handsome Dog (Alfie), Golden Oldie (Rascal) and Child’s Best Friend (Barley).
Prettiest Bitch finalist Becky is a true mongrel - “the epitome of the competition” explains her owner Margaret McKnight from Bangor, County Down. Becky was rescued along with her litter mates from the River Lagan near Belfast seven years ago and now lives with retired teacher Margaret.
Most Handsome Dog finalist Alfie is a Labrador/Great Dane cross. His owners, Neil and Zoe Stow from Poole, Dorset took him in after seeing him being advertised by his previous owner who could not care for him properly. Neil said: “We were his fifth home. He was incredibly nervous when we got him and was so skinny you could see every one of his ribs. He is now however becoming a really happy, confident, affectionate and loving dog.”
Rascal, a 10 year old Jack Russell/Norfolk Terrier cross is the Golden Oldie finalist. Rascal was adopted by Anne Worthington from Dereham, Norfolk, at the age of 6 months, and has been a loyal, loving and constant companion of Anne, keeping her company whilst her husband is away with the RAF.
Barley is a Pyrenean Mountain Dog/Golden Retriever cross. His best friend is 14 year old Annabelle Shemming from Ipswich, Suffolk, and together they are the Child’s Best Friend finalists. “Barley is so special and different - he loves sleeping and eating, he is very intelligent and also stubborn.” Annabelle explained.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club secretary said: “Scruffts is a fantastic competition that recognises wonderful crossbreed dogs and introduces them to all of the fun of the showring. Scruffts has grown and grown since its beginnings in early 2000, we have held the final at our London event Discover Dogs for a number of years and this year felt it was time to showcase the country's favourite competition for crossbreeds at the world's greatest dog show, Crufts.
“Crossbreed dogs certainly aren’t new to Crufts - they have been taking part in the show for many years in activities such as agility and flyball and the Kennel Club has been registering crossbreed dogs since the 1940's. However, this is the first time a crossbreed only showing event will be taking place at the world's greatest dog show.“
Scruffts is run in support of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, which has donated over £6.7m worth of grants to benefit the canine world since its inception in 1987. Its mission is to promote the improvement of dogs through charitable donations and helping to fund research into canine health problems. The Kennel Club is hoping that more people will get involved with Scruffts throughout 2013, raising more money to make a difference for dogs and spending time with their own dogs in the process.
To find out more about Scruffts please visit www.scruffts.org.uk.
5th March 2013
Picture: Annabelle Shemming and Barley - Credit to Kennel Club Picture Library
Further images available upon request