The 120th annual ‘Greatest Dog Show In The World’ bounded its way into the NEC in Birmingham today for the opening day of DFS Crufts 2010. Rightfully back on television with More 4 and bigger and better than ever, the Kennel Club’s calendar cavalcade of canine critters sprang into action with the Working and Pastoral Groups first up, aiming to overcome 22,000 dogs across the four days and make it all the way to the glittering Best in Show finale on Sunday.
Guest of honour and Kennel Club President HRH Prince Michael of Kent was introduced to experts from the Animal Health Trust and those involved in the Kennel Club/British Veterinary Association canine health schemes at the Health Zone and guided through the various health initiatives in place to ensure that dogs have the best possible chance to live healthy, happy lives.
HRH also witnessed the judging in many of the breed rings across 5 halls in the UK’s biggest exhibition arena. 6,000 dogs were aiming to impress the judges on the opening day, but just two were chosen to go forward to Best in Show, with the day not short of drama and spectacle.
Mrs Zena Thorn-Andrews had the tough task of judging the Best of Breed winners in the Working Group. Mrs Thorn-Andrews selected Rottweiler Ch Olearia Blaze of Gold, owned by Mrs Marie Monk and Mr C Drabble of Rawmarsh in Rotherham.
No sooner had the Working Group winner been chosen, the task of deciding the Pastoral Group was the difficult decision facing Judge Mr Robin Searle. The winner was a Welsh Corgi (Cardigan) named Ch Bymil Picture This, owned and handled by Miss Sarah Taylor from Littlehampton in Sussex.
Away from the show ring, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People opened the day by launching their ‘Hearing Dogs Walkathon’. Throughout this year’s show scores of participants are strapping on pedometers to count how many steps they take around the giant NEC to raise money for the charity. Press office staff members strapped on pedometers throughout Thursday to see if they could surpass the 10,000 steps a day recommended for a healthy lifestyle. Despite being tied to their desks for long periods of the day, everyone easily exceeded the figure after frantically scuttling around DFS Crufts through a combination of frenetic hard work, tireless dedication and getting hopelessly lost in the maze of the NEC’s winding hallways.
DFS Crufts 2010 is also home to the world’s oldest sea dog, Hatch, in the Kennel Club’s Library and Collections area. Unveiled to the public for the first time today, an almost complete skeleton of a bitch aged approximately two years was discovered along with 19,000 preserved Tudor artefacts on board the Mary Rose, King Henry VIII’s favourite ship which sank off Portsmouth in 1545. So called after divers recovered her remains near the sliding hatch door, it was believed Hatch was kept as a rat catcher on the ship at a time when cats were viewed with much suspicion – a mindset that I’m sure many of the dogs and their owners visiting the show today can identify with! However she was obviously a natural at her job as there were few preserved rat-like remains found amongst the relics.
The Breed Rescue stand began a four-day exhibition of rescue dogs that is so often an overlooked element of the work of the breed clubs. A recent survey commissioned by the Kennel Club estimated that nearly 16,000 pedigrees and crossbreeds were rehomed by Breed Rescue last year, making the Breed Rescue one of the biggest canine rehoming operations in the whole of the UK.
The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of GB Rescue, Dobermann Rescue, Midland Old English Sheepdog Club Welfare, and Collie Rescue (Rough and Smooth) talked visitors through the services they offer and gave advice on how best to ensure that the UK’s growing number of dogs in rescue centres begins to drop. The aim is to educate prospective dog owners about how to select the right breed for their needs whilst highlighting the fantastic work so many rescue organisations do across the country.
On the Kennel Club’s campaign stand were the winners of the KC Dog Awards, Falkirk Council’s Green Dog Walkers. At a time when councils nationwide are introducing dog control orders, the awards recognised all responsible dog owners, campaigners and general good citizens who show that if authorities and responsible dog owners work together, sensible local laws can be introduced.
All the winners of the KC Dog Awards have campaigned for the best deal for dog walkers. Access to walking areas has also been in the national spotlight through the Marine and Coastal Access Act, and the Kennel Club is highlighting the deeds of all those who have worked tirelessly to make sure dogs and their owners have fair consideration.
An action packed first day at the NEC came to a close with TV viewers once again waiting in anticipation of a second day of the world’s greatest dog show back on television. The More 4 coverage brought a new dimension to DFS Crufts and congratulations go to Claire Balding, Dougie Anderson, Frank Kane, Marc Abraham and all those who brought the event to life.