My Two Days at Crufts 2015

Now that I’ve written about my outlook on Crufts this year I thought I’d give you an idea on how I spent my weekend there.

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On Saturday I travelled with and spent the day with a few friends. We started by watching the Good Citizen Pre-Beginner Obedience Stakes Final. Two of our friends, Michelle and Dianne, were entered, one with two dogs, so it was really exciting to cheer and support each of them. There ended up being a run off between the two of them for 4th place! Everyone was in good spirit and Dianne took the 4th place, but the Judge gave a special award to Michelle for her great work with her young dog so it was a happy ending for everyone!

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We mooched around the stalls and shops and I briefly bumped into Dave Hibbert from West Midlands Police Dogs. You may remember him from my post about Bark in the Park last year! I haven’t seen him since (I tend not to venture into Birmingham too often) so it was great to see him again, if only fleetingly.

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We headed for the Main Arena at lunch time to catch some agility and were surprised to have to queue! But luckily not for too long, plus Frank Kane and Claire Balding walked past as we were stood there! Once inside we settled down to watch the International Invite class and the Small Team Final. Wow these international competitors have some AMAZING running contacts. I like running contacts but I’d not yet completely made up my mind about them… well I am now converted! They are definitely the way to go! It was clear to see from the dogs that have been trained “properly” that they would hit the contact 90+% of the time and the dogs absolutely power along the down plank and off at speed! It just becomes tricky when the Judge sets a running-contact-trap (not the technical term) such as round the back of the jump straight after the dog walk. That’s when your super advanced handlers come in that train a dog to have running and stopped!

We stayed to watch an exciting flyball qualifier (always great to watch in the main arena with the crowd atmosphere) then headed out to get around the rest of the shops. As we came out the queue for the main arena was enormous! Right up to the stairs and onto the next level, phaw. As we wandered past the Border Collie Trust GB stand I stopped to have a flick through the greeting cards they had on sale and to my surprise there was one of my images! Then another!! Woo! After photographing some of rehoming dogs last year they had asked if I would donate a few images for them to use on Christmas Cards. I’m a big supporter of Border Collie Trust, plus I wasnt making any money from the photographs, so I was happy to donate a few images. I felt so proud to know that my contribution was helping the charity, plus Guinness is famous!

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A final mooch around, which involved my buying a lovely wax leather country jacket, we caught the Flyball final on the main screen and then headed home around 7pm! A full on day!

On Sunday I travelled down alone. I decided to have a bit of a lie-in and arrived at 10am. I headed for the main arena nice and early to make sure I saw my friends and fellow Dig It Instructors running in the Agility Champs. I saw Becky Sargent and Lou Cadman outside and gave them a quick good luck. In the main arena there were a few displays to come before the Agility. I caught the end of the Activities display, showing off Rally and Working Trials then next a display of the Kennel Club Safe and Sound Scheme, all about educating children how to behave around dogs to prevent bites. I was excited to see another friend, Stacey, in the display! It was good fun with lots of activity filling the arena. The children went on an adventure starting outside of their house to the park and then inside their home. The dogs in the demonstration were really impressive, a great display of training and obedience.

Next up it was agility time! Large height first and there were lots of different handling choices made on a little section consisting of a 180 degree turn to the backside of the jump and into the weaves. It was really interesting to see how different handlers and different heights handled it and which was the fastest. Something to set up in training I think! Lou’s turn came and she went clear! Hurrah! Then Becky had a great run but an unfortunately pole and a refusal left her with 10 faults, but still enough to get both of them into the Final!! Wooo.

After agility I watched the Golden Retriever Display, really entertaining and impressive display of calm, responsive dogs, and then came the big boys, West Midlands Police Dog Team! It was nice to see Dave and Carl in action again after seeing them at Bark in the Park. It’s lovely to see the journey from puppy to adult working police dog, plus Mr. Angry is always a funny character, although it did make me jump when they shot the (fake) gun.

Out of the arena I had a wander around the shops that I’d missed on Saturday and bought two cage ball toys and a dog coat. I spoke to a lovely lady about hydrotherapy and another person about human trained physiotherapists that provide dog treatment.

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Then it was time for my KCAI lecture! This year to get free entry tickets from the KCAI you needed to book onto a lecture. The only one still available that I was interested in was “Clinical Behaviour” by Dr Jacqueline Boyd. I went into the KCAI tent and the screen was displaying “Canine Science”. Okay I thought, maybe they just haven’t changed it from the last lecture. Nope, this lecture was about Canine Science. What the hell?! Not a million miles away from Clinical Behaviour but definitely not the same topic. However I really enjoyed it! Dr Boyd talked about the importance of scientific investigation and how to tell if a fact is real or not. I learnt how to implement a mental checklist when reading a so-called scientific claim. I thought the whole lecture was a great way of sticking the middle-finger up to those dog trainers who scoff at science and claim “scientific trainers know nothing”. Dr Boyd talked about a paper that had literally been published last week on dog agility. The paper has been published in a journal that you must pay for in order to read it, but Dr Boyd kindly had a number of printed copies and gave me one for free! Definitely worth sitting in the lecture for.

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An hour later I wandered my way back through the halls and spent some time catching up with Mark Doggett (Enviro-Dogs) and Sarah Hanson (Wiggly Dogs) who I had known previously on social media and then met at Bark in the Park last year. It was great to see people who I speak to quite regularly online and actually talk to them in the flesh.

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I grabbed a spot in front of the big screen by the Main Arena to watch the Champ Final! Small dogs started off and the first few dogs all picked up faults or were eliminated. Then it was Lou’s turn, she went clear!!! Ah the only clear so far!! I couldn’t believe how nervous I was watching the next dogs run. I’ve never wanted someone to get a fault so much before, I felt a little mean. Another dog went clear but slower. Then a lady with a cocker spaniel that was bigger than Lou’s Twiggy was running clear on a good time. She took the lead! Ahhh. But as the smalls finished Lou took the Reserve Champ place! WOOHOO! So so good.

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Finally it was the medium’s turn and Becky Sargent went first! After a deep breath and an inspiring start line wait, off she went. Clear round! In a good time! A few more ran, picking up faults or not quite touching Becky’s time, then Natasha Wise was up! She set down a storming run, going into the lead by nearly 2 seconds! Wow. But then came Sian Illingworth with some cracking handling moves that really worked for her and her dog. She scraped into the lead by 0.2 seconds which left Becky as 3rd overall! 3rd in a Champion Final, behind 2 handler and dog combinations who have won many awards in the World Competitions! Absolutely amazing! Well done Becky.

I waited around and saw Becky and then Lou as they finally came out of the main arena, then it was time to go home! What a cracking two days. I really enjoy Crufts. I take exactly what I want from it. I love the shopping, I love the displays and competitions in the main arena, I love the chance to speak to different people and especially so this year, getting to see new friends again.  I really enjoyed the KCAI lecture! I wish I’d attended more in the past. However I would only do them if I was coming for two days or more, 1 day is definitely not enough time to fit everything in as well as a lecture.

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