“Saturday night’s the night I like, Saturday night’s alright, alright, alright!” Good evening dog lovers and welcome to the report from day three of Crufts 2009. Yes, that’s three days down already and just one more opportunity for you to come down and be a part of the world’s greatest dog show.
I have no idea whether Elton John (the singer of the above line for you non-pop aficionados) is a fan of dogs but even he could probably learn a thing or two about flamboyant dress sense if he came to Crufts. As ever today has been a sensorial overload of sights, sounds and probably the odd smell too! Most of all though, it’s just been darn good fun.
Today saw the turn of the Gundogs to strut their stuff in the show rings around the NEC in a bid to impress the judges. The Gundogs are the only group to get sole billing on the Crufts schedule due to their outstanding popularity, given that they include in their number the top three Kennel Club registered breeds and an entry which is more than 2,000 dogs greater than the next largest group.
Once all of the Best of Breeds had been selected during the day, Chris Bexon had the difficult decision to make in selecting just one dog to progress to tomorrow’s showpiece Best in Show final. After casting a careful eye over his shortlist, Chris chose the Sh Ch/Aust Ch Hungargunn Bear It’n Mind, a Hungarian Vizsla owned by Mrs N Craggs and Mrs K Armstrong of Carlisle, Cumbria as his winner.
Among the many great events taking place in the Arena earlier in the day, there were two which underlined Crufts’ reputation as a truly international dog show. The International Agility Competition for Large dogs thrilled the packed crowds as competitors from 21 countries battled it out over some particularly testing courses. The event was won by David Munnings and his dog, Ag Ch Gunran Misteree, who were representing England.
There was more English success in the International Freestyle Heelwork to Music competition, in the shape of the unstoppable Tina Humphrey. Tina, along with her fabulously talented dog Bluecroft My Blue Heaven, made it a clean sweep of the three major Heelwork competitions which have taken place in the Arena at this year’s show when she wowed the judges with her broom-wielding routine. Press office hearts were won over however by the second placed Swedish entry, whose dog pretended to cry during the performance. Having been just pipped at the post by a whisker, one imagines that they might have had chance to do it for real afterwards.
Away from the roar of the competition ring, it has been a phenomenally busy day out on the trade stands, with copies of Your Dog magazine running out by mid-afternoon. Judging by this and the number of oversized stuffed dogs being proudly carried atop shoulders, the only crunch that dog loving shoppers are experiencing is coming from the masses of dry food being taken away from the show.
Our Dogs reported brisk business, with the authors of a couple of notable new books making an appearance on their stand. Peter Purves continued his one-man mission to be everywhere at once when he stopped by to sign copies of his autobiography ‘Here’s One I Wrote Earlier’. He was closely followed by another Crufts veteran in the shape of wonder-dog Endal and his devoted owner Allen Parton to promote a book written by the latter about the former.
As well as watching dogs pretending to cry and stopping to give Endal a friendly pat, it’s been another busy day in the press office, with journalists a plenty at this year’s show and lots of good positive coverage. It’s the lighter side of life that keeps us feeling chipper in here, and today’s best moments included one of the press rushing in to give me a hug and share the news that her dog had won its class. The fact that he had only beaten one other dog wasn’t going to dampen her enthusiasm and typifies perfectly just how much Crufts really does mean to dog lovers.
If you can’t be here tomorrow for the final day then make sure you watch all the action live on Crufts TV (insert link) and catch up on anything you’ve missed so far by using the video on demand service. And whilst you do so, please don’t forget to vote for the dog that you think should be crowned the winner of this year’s Friends For Life competition (insert link).
But, if you’re anywhere near Birmingham and love dogs, then you really should be coming along to witness the climax of this wonderful show. Seven dogs will enter the Arena for Best in Show but there can be only one winner so why not be a part of history? See you tomorrow dog lovers.