“We’re in this together, but still it’s farewell.” As any good air guitarist of a certain age can tell you, this is the opening line to ‘The Final Countdown’ by Europe. And, it is indeed the final countdown and then farewell from DFS Crufts 2010 as the show reaches its traditional thrilling climax. And never mind Europe, this is the biggest and best dog show in the whole wide world.
When the weather gods kindly put the sun in Sunday this morning there were already six dogs qualified for the evening’s grand finale, Best in Show. All that remained was for one last dog to claim their place in front of a packed Main Arena, eager More4 TV audience and hordes of dog devotees all over the globe watching via the live internet feed.
Over 5,000 dogs were competing for that one place, each hoping to be chosen as the ultimate representative of the Gundog group. The job of choosing from the Best of Breed winners fell to Colin MacKay and he selected the massively successful Hungarian Vizsla, Sh Ch/Aust Ch Hungargunn Bear It’n Mind, aka Yogi, owned by Naomi Cragg and Kathryn Armstrong from Carlisle, Cumbria and handled by John Thirlwell.
This was the second consecutive year that Yogi had won the Gundog group, and he was back in the Main Ring less than an hour later, alongside the other six group winners from the three previous nights for the chance to become the DFS Crufts Best in Show winner for 2010.
The lady with the unenviable task of choosing between the five English-based dogs, plus competitors from Sweden and Russia was Valerie Foss, who has over 40 years of judging experience. After a compelling competition and careful consideration, Valerie made Yogi’s night complete by making him her winner.
Best in Show may be the ultimate prize in the world of dogs but there was no shortage of other fascinating finals taking place in the Main Arena this evening. As ever, the most heart-warming and tear-jerking was the announcement of the final voting in this year’s Friends for Life contest. On paper it was almost impossible to pick between the five incredible stories of canine companionship and heroism nominated for the award but the voting public selected nine year old Sam Daly and his Dogs for Disabled assistance dog Josie as their winner. Sam has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy but has seen his confidence and passion for life return with Josie by his side, and there was hardly a dry eye in the house when his name was read out.
For those who prefer a good dose of sweat to tears, there was some high-paced action earlier on in the evening, with the finals of the Agility Championships. Unlike Best in Show, where there can only be one winner, the Championships offer a glittering prize to three dogs, one in each size category. This year’s winners were Nicola Garrett with Obay Truly Driven in the Small dogs, Toni Dawkins and Tenita Magic Minx in the Medium category and Mark Laker with Bekkis Carbon Copy in the Large final.
As with DFS Crufts as a whole, there was so much more to enjoy in the Arena this evening than just competition. The huge crowd was also royally entertained by displays from two of the most popular perennial performers in the shape of the Southern Golden Retriever Display Team and Mary Ray. The latter put on a fabulous western-themed display with an ending that would have drawn an ‘ahhh’ from even the hardest of hearts.
Elsewhere around the show, the Kennel Club again celebrated a major anniversary, this time with the Young Kennel Club marking its Silver Jubilee. After 25 years of encouraging young people aged 6-24 years old to develop and share their love of dogs and involvement in a host of canine disciplines, members and staff old and new gathered as Lady Kirkham, the wife of the Chairman of DFS cut a huge celebratory cake in their honour.
Another magnificent milestone marked today, was the announcement of the 5,000th member of the Kennel Club’s Accredited Breeder Scheme on the Kennel Club stand in Hall 3. Arwyn and Sian Ellis, along with their daughter Einir Matulla became the latest breeders to sign up to the stringent requirements put in place by the scheme to help ensure that they produce healthy, happy puppies.
And on that note, it is time to bring DFS Crufts 2010 to a healthy, happy ending. It’s been another truly wonderful year, boosted by the return to the TV limelight with the quality coverage provided by More4. And no matter what you might have made of the event having a new sponsor this year, in the end it really stood for Damn Fine Show! See you all next year.