I spent a happy and exhausting Saturday at Crufts 2011, which proved to be a great opportunity for finding out about every aspect of dog-ownership.
|Whippets - they're great|
As an admirer of sight hounds, it was great to wander around the benches and show rings and surround myself with whippets and wolfhounds. But for me and many others, Crufts wasn’t all about show ring. I spent a lot of time saying ‘hello’ to different breeds, finding out about the crucial work of service dogs, talking to the many welfare organisations that help dogs in need, watching the agility events – and of course, doing some shopping (it couldn’t be helped).
It was great to see so many charities at the event and to know that so much is being done to help abandoned dogs and to provide canine help for people who need it. In addition to those with their own stands, charities also took guest spots with TV vet Marc Abraham, who was playing host to the Oldies Club while I was there. I really appreciate older dogs and I’m a big fan of this charity, so it was lovely to say hello to the volunteers and dogs. At the moment I’m in no position to take on another dog, whatever its age, but I had a chat with them about my own oldies, and I came away with some good advice based on their experiences.
Having kept dogs for more than 25 years, the one thing I’ve learned is that you never stop learning. I could have spent an entire day at Discover Dogs, where I chatted to breeders of every kind of dog. As responsible breeders, they were determined to make sure that any puppy of theirs went to a well-informed, responsible owner. They were keen to discuss the breed’s health and welfare issues, and to answer questions about the possibility of adopting a dog from a breed rescue organisation.
You may have seen the RSPCA’s open letter to the Kennel Club this week, in which it criticises the TV coverage of the show for suggesting that all the dogs were healthy and happy when some of them showed signs of exaggerated breeding. I share some of the RSPCA’s concerns, and its letter was a reminder that the problems identified in recent reports on dog breeding can’t have been eradicated in just two years. Clearly there is more work to be done, but I was encouraged to see that so many breeders are serious about producing healthy dogs.