Many of you will know that two weeks ago we left George with our friends for the first time and headed towards the NEC in Birmingham to set up for our 2nd year at Crufts. We were in a new Hall with a space twice that of last year. The van was huge and packed to the ceiling and high vis jackets were worn.
I have had mixed feelings about Crufts and I know that many people feel negative about it, but I came away this year feeling overall positive about the event that celebrates everything dog and thought I would share with you 5 Great Things about Crufts.
How did it all start?
Crufts was originally a dog show for Terriers founded by Charles Cruft in 1891 - a dog biscuit salesman who owned St Bernards. In 1896 it was renamed 'Cruft's Greatest Dog Show' and all dog breeds were welcomed. It passed to the Kennel Club in 1939 when both Charles and his wife Emma had passed away. The first dog awarded Best in Show was a Greyhound called Primley Sceptre who was a red fawn owned by a millionaire who later founded Paignton Zoo.
#1 Great Thing - It is Dog Mecca!
If you love dogs, it is the show to visit. You will see the most amazing selection of canine variety. The show is split into categories for each day. If you love a particular type of dog and visit on the right day you can sit and watch them as they are judged in each class. Hound day saw over 400 whippets entered and of course beautiful Tease won Best in Show! You can sit and look at whippets all day it is such a big group!
On Day 1 we had pastoral dogs in our hall and I couldn't resist having a chat with Lucy the rough coated collie's owner as they sat very contentedly waiting for his wife to finish shopping! They show Lucy, their pet, a lovely 7 year old, for the fun of it and achieved 2nd in her class, which had 'ruffled a few feathers' as her owner told me!
On terrier day we had the lovely little Bedlingtons in our hall. I found the owners to be a friendly lot and very happy to chat and let me stroke their dogs. We even had a few on the stand and discovered that our small whippet size fits a treat! You will never see so many different dogs under one roof, all breeds, the popular and less well known, they are all at Crufts.
Over the 4 days more than 21,000 dogs were entered from over 40 countries, it really is the Biggest Dog Show in the World. There are 5 halls, covering over 25 acres, so if you plan to go next year, wear your comfy shoes!
#2 - Great Thing - Its a place for Rescue Awareness
Crufts is not all about pedigree dogs. Within the halls you will find may rescue centres who are there to raise awareness, and talk to anyone who is thinking about rescuing a dog. We had The Greyhound Trust in our hall and they had a fantastic Hound Lounge area set up to illustrate how easy going these couch potatoes they are! Dogs are there to be stroked and I confess to popping over when we had a lull to get my hound fix! Dog charities are able to raise money too for their great causes by selling all manor of dog related items, from badges to coats. Other charities are there to raise awareness about puppy farms, educating the public about what to look out for when buying your puppy. With over 120.000 visitors it really is a great place for Rescue Awareness.
#3 - Great Thing - The Shopping!
With 25 acres of floor space, at least a third of it devoted to shopping it is the place to go for all your dog needs! From food/treats to bags to put the poo in when walking, it is all there!! It is a great place to talk to the owners of many small businesses about their products and services. I had been thinking about getting George some Dorwest Herbal supplements and on chatting to the owner - who also has whippets - I felt much better informed than if I had just purchased over the internet. I went for The Keepers Mix for everyday well being, and the Tree Bark Powder for if he has a slightly dicky tummy or if he eats something unsavory on a walk that might upset his tummy.
For us, it is a fantastic place to meet our customers face to face. Have a chat, advise on sizes, show off our colour range - I do admit that 21 colours of fleece jumper is getting a bit excessive, but which ones to take out??? I love them all! I often come up with new product ideas when at shows because I am having a conversation with a customer, something I might not otherwise of thought about. My advice for a successful shopping day is take cash, the internet connection is slow at busy times, and take a trolley with wheels for all your purchases! Plan your visit before and mark out who you want to see and stick to the plan. If you have time then browse the shops you might have missed.
# 4 - Great Things - Discover Dogs
I LOVE this section at Crufts. I linger far too long around the Hound area, going for a quick whippet fix and chat to owners of other more exotic breeds like the Saluki, a breed I adore. There is a real buzz in this area, and it's really lovely to see so many people researching the breeds they might be interested in sharing their lives with. The owners can tell you honestly about the breed - they are not trying to sell to you - and you will have a better idea if that particular dog is suitable for your lifestyle and household. It is also fascinating to see some dogs that you might never have seen before. It gets very busy on the weekend, so if you are planning to come next year I would suggest getting over there early or visit on the Thursday or Friday.
#5 - Great Thing - Flyball, Agility and Friends for Life Award
When you walk around the halls you realise it isn't all about the showing or the shopping. There are many other rings with activities such as Flyball and Agility going on. They are great fun to watch and always very popular. The dogs absolutely love what they are doing and the bonds between the dog and owner shines through. They will have trained for months and being at Crufts is prize enough, but the buzz and excitement makes up for the hard work and dedication. I heard a rumour that whippets are now getting involved in Flyball - so those collies might need to watch out!
The other amazing event is the Friends for Life Competition - organised by Crufts it is super popular and voted for by the public. It celebrates so many special dogs from Search and Rescue to assistance dogs. Dogs that help their blind, deaf, disabled or autistic owners really live a better life. It is heartwarming and comes with a massive mascara warning!
The icing on the cake this year for us was the whippet winner Tease, only the 3rd whippet to win this presitigious event in 128 years, the last time being Dee Dee in 2004. So, I hope I have given you a few reasons to visit Crufts 2019. We will be there in the same spot - we hope to welcome as many dog lovers as we can over the exhausting but fun 4 days of Dog Madness!
ps - we are aiming to get all orders placed at the show out by early next week, we are sewing as quick as we can!