Going to the dogs.
If ever any proof were needed that Britain is a nation of animal lovers, then Crufts 2015 the world’s biggest dog show has it in spades. First staged in London in 1891, it now sees some 160,000 dog devotees descend on Birmingham’s NEC over four days to watch nearly 21,500 dogs strut their stuff.
And what an extraordinary sight it is, as, away from the teeming trade stands selling everything from diamanté collars to £22,000 ‘dream doghouses’ row upon row of the best bred dogs sit patiently side by side in wooden stalls as they await their moment in the ring. There are sawdust areas for canine competitors to ‘do their business’ and much primping and preening, with expertly coiffed entrants sporting onesies, nighties and curlers.
Competition is fierce and, this year, one dog may have been the victim of foul play. Belgian police are investigating the death of an Irish setter, a day after returning from Crufts, amid suspicion it was poisoned at the show.
With nearly 3,000 overseas entrants, it’s perhaps no surprise that ‘best in show’ went to Knopa, a shiny black Scottie from Russia. But, for me, the highlight of the show was the BASC Gamekeepers’ final, won by a working English springer spaniel called Bob (Master Bojangles). Bob went beating and picking-up twice a week last season, which, in my eyes, makes him top dog.