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Random Thoughts of Crufts 2011

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Our roving reporter rides again...

Some people say that Crufts is not as special to the agility fraternity as Olympia but one has to admit that there is no other dog show like it. You either love it or loath it. It isn’t really a dog show any more. Some would call it a circus?  It’s a place to stock up on dog bedding, toys, ornaments, agility equipment, obedience equipments and what every catches your fancy! It’s a chance to see the best of the best whether it be in breed, obedience, Heel Work to Music or Agility. Jennie Fairweather cast her roving eye over the proceedings in this eclectic report.

Crufts has been at the NEC for 20 years now. I personally think it is a much better venue than Earls Court when we used to have to go by train as there was very limited parking for cars. And getting into London by car, well...

Dog show entries were down - 22,000 this year compared to 28,000 in 2010 - but the foreign dogs entered were up as was those from other countries. Dogs from 36 countries entered this year.

This year, Crufts celebrated it 120th anniversary. There was a very big cake with bubbly on the Thursday, courtesy of the Kennel Club Chairman Ronnie Irving. Show Manager, Gerald King and Vanessa McAlpine from the Kennel Club cut the cake in front of the assembled press. 

People in the Press Office at the right time were treated to double helpings of cake that day as there was a tea party in the afternoon to mark the launch of A Grand Day Out, a series of charity dog walks in aid of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust and the Wallace & Gromit Children’s Foundation. I missed out on this part as had to rush off to watch the agility in the arena – shame!

There was a much bigger emphasis placed on the health of show dogs by the Kennel Club. This year they introduced a Mate Select Service to help people choose a mate for their dog. All Breed judges were asked to ensure that they were judging to the each of the breed standards and to make sure that each Best of Breed (BOB) winner was, as they say, fit for purpose. They also notified all show dog owners that dogs from 2012. dogs from the 15 high profile breeds which win Best of Breed at Crufts and at General and Group Championship Shows will need to be given a clean bill of health by the show veterinary surgeon before their Best of Breed awards are confirmed at the show and before they are allowed to continue to compete at the show e.g. challenge for the Group or Best in Show. This requirement is designed to improve canine health and protect the sport of dog showing.

Rosemary Conley, the famous weight loss lady was there to introduce a get fit programme for both dogs and their owners, The Kennel Club's Get Fit with Fido Challenge, in association with Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Clubs, and supported by Olympic swimmer, Sharron Davies MBE. The Challenge aims to ensure that both dogs and their owners get the exercise they need. Rosemary was joined by Sarah Humphreys who lost half her body weight through walking her dog and changing her lifestyle. Sarah helped Rosemary kick off the campaign by taking part in dog agility in the Canine Activities ring. If you are interested in joining this programme, please logon to the Kennel Club website

Schmoozing with the stars
There was quite a bit of excitement in the Arena on Thursday afternoon as Ant and Dec filmed for their Push The Button show. The two family contestants were given 24 hours to learn how to run a dog around an agility course! Mary Ray was their trainer and she lent them two of her dogs – thank goodness because at least one of the team knew what to do!

As you might have expected, it was great fun to watch and credit should go to the two contestants as they did quite a good job although both had eliminated themselves before they were halfway round by taking the wrong course... several times! I am still not sure how the judge was able to judge this competition and wasn't able to see the show on the Saturday night so can’t tell you the results as they were kept from the audience. All I can say is that I counted two E's plus 10 faults for Dillon Simpson and two E's and 15 faults for the second contestant! Dillon had never had a dog before and was actually a little afraid of them before he started training so he did very well considering. The other chap had had dogs before so was used to them. It was entertaining to watch!

Amongst the celebrities attending Crufts this year was Pat from East Enders and Gill Raddings with her action stunt dogs. Gill and her team train and work with some of the most recognised canine characters from stage and screen. Some of the characters were Skyes, otherwise known as Harvey, from the Every home needs a Harvey advert. I just love this advert but have no idea what it is advertising?

Roly, the Labrador from Downton Abbey, Dodger from Doc Martin, Jive who appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean and Cracker who is a regular in the TV programme Sadie J were all there at some stage or another.

I watched The Tricky Tykes Terrier Racing Display Team in the Arena which was very amusing. Who said 'Don’t work with children and dogs?' It was fun to see the dogs enjoying themselves but even funnier watching the handlers trying to get the dogs off the lure or trying to catch them. As for the runs which included some hurdles, the collies were not interested in jumping them as they either ran around them or under them trying to get to the lure! It was a very funny bit of the entertainment.

Now to get down to the agility
There were two judges over the four days. Joseph Boix from Spain and our own Nancy Hudson put up some very interesting and challenging courses. I watched the Large Team Final judged by Joseph Boix. This was between Beacon Red, Billingshurst DTC, East Lothian and Wye Valley. The table below shows the results. Lesley Osborne running for Billingshurst got 5 faults in the weaves and the dog got tangled up in the flat tunnel. Fortunately the judge immediately went to the dogs help. He stopped the clock and helped the dog to get out of the tunnel.

The dfs Crufts Championship class was interesting. All competitors had to have won at least a Challenge Certificate in the last 12 months to be eligible to compete. The winners of this competition would win the equivalent of 2 CC’s thus making them an Agility Champion on the day if not one already. Helen Anderson and her dog Dinky Demon of Downunder was made into an Agility Champion in this competition. Well done to them both.

Nicola Garrett with Ag.Ch. Obay Truly Driven have won the Small Agility Championship competition for the last three years running but this was not to be their year. They came in 3rd in the finals – still a very good result.

Small Circular Knockout  
Judges: Joseph Boix & Nancy Hudson

 This was a fast competition with lots of ahhhs and ohhs! There were 16 competitors

Round 1: took Martine Wates, Lu Candy, Miranda Frankham, Elizabeth Saggers, Claire Arend, Sharon Brewster, Ann Edwards and Sharon Sampson through to round 2.

Round 2 took Martine Wates, Elizabeth Saggers, Claire Arend and Ann Edwards to round 3.

Round 3 winners were: Elizabeth Saggers and Ann Edwards

Round 4 was the Finals between Elizabeth Saggers and Ann Edwards. Anne did enough to win through to first place and Elizabeth Saggers was 2nd.

The run off for 3rd and 4th place was between Claire Arend and Martine Wates with Claire winning into 3rd place and Martine 4th.

Team Large Final
Thursday, 10 March 2011


Billingshurst DTC
Sarah Osborne clear, Will Rolfe clear, Lesley Osborne 5 faults in the weaves and Sue Rolfe clear. Total score = 182.89 plus 5 faults


East Lothian
Gail McDonald was eliminated, the second to run knocked a pole down and picked up 5 faults, Gail running Nicole went clear and last to run was  Shaun Young with Quest who had a clear run. Total score = 171.11 +116.11 faults


Beacon Red
Only Jackie Gardner had a clear run, Christine wingate was Eliminated and the other two members of the team picked up 10 faults, 5 on seesaw and 5 in the weaves.
Total score = 172.36 + 122.26


Wye Valley
Roberta Powell and Alison Belcher both picked up 5 faults on the A frame and Dog walk. The other two members were both Eliminated. Total score = 196.9 + 266.90 faults

ABC Agility Overall Winners

Friday, 11 March 2011


Mark Douglas
Ag.Ch. Cories Ruby Tuesday


Neil Ellis
Pelham Tully

After the ABC Final, Nigel Stains told me that Ag.Ch. Dragonheart Dark Destroyer - even at nine years old - was still a dream dog to have. He thought Mark Douglas had a very good run and deserved his win.

I also spoke to Mark Douglas who was a very happy man. Ag.Ch. Cories Ruby Tuesday, also nearly nine years old, and had won Olympia ABC last year. 'She's a great dog,' he said and they would be back next year. Mark and his dog were also representing Wales in the International Challenge Agility and was placed 3rd overall in that event A very good result for Crufts.

This year as per normal there was just too much to see at Crufts. I had a great time and hope those of you that went, did too.

About the author...
Jennie Fairweather has been doing agility for fun with her cairn Terriers for over 20 years. In the early days of agility no one really thought of Minis as being agility dogs and I came across a lot of anti-mini sentiment. Now she is very pleased to see they now have their place in agility!

Jennie started competing about five years ago with her eight year old Cairn. While they've had limited success in th4e ring, they've had a lot of fun and made many new friends. Jennie had to retire her dog at 10 years of age as she just ‘went off’ agility at competitions and refused to run. Jennie is now working on a youngster - another cairn - so hopefully you'll see them in the ring.

Jennie's life seems to revolve around 'doggie things' these days. She judges Cairn Terriers at show Championship show level - beauty for the uninitiated - and has passed the Agility rules and regulations exams as well as being a Agility Club Approved Basic Agility Instructor and al Approved Instructor of Dog Training and Behaviour. Her first agility judging appointment was last year for H & J Agility in June. She has been running her own dog training business for seven years and trains dogs and handlers for Obedience, Agility and Flyball.

First published 7 April 2011


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