Showsight April 2023


B ad weather with lots of snow announced this year’s edition of Crufts, the biggest dog festival on earth. Dog lovers from all over the UK and from all over Europe faced lots of difficulties to get to the show on time. Planes and trains were delayed, and traffic was stuck in many places, but this could not stop the dog lovers who entered their Crufts Qualified Champions hoping to win one of the prestigious titles. This year, 19,026 dogs were entered for the show, and about 5,000 others participated in one of the numerous other competi- tions; a big part of them crossbreeds. This year is the 150th anni- versary of the British Kennel Club, and a huge cake was offered to the VIPs and press people for this occasion. The British Kennel Club was founded in 1873 by Mr. Sewallys Evelyn Chirley, along with 12 other founding members, and the very same year their first show was held in the Crystal Palace in London. But it was only in 1880 that the registration of dogs became a necessity to find a way in the chaos. It has always been weird to me that Mr. Charles Cruft “owned” his prestigious show until he died in 1942, and until his wife “sold” his show to the British Kennel Club. From then on, the Kennel Club show and Mr. Cruft’s show has continued under the name of “Crufts.” The British Kennel Club is probably the oldest Kennel Club in the world and has evolved into the largest organization in the UK devoted to dog health, welfare, and training. In the last decade, the KC has focused on crossbreeds too and has allowed them to participate in the different KC-recognized canine sports. Agility, Flyball, and Heelwork to Music, especially, have lots of crossbreeds in their competition, and it can only be called positive that the KC is involved in “all dogs” and not only the purebreds. But, of course, the emphasis is still on the recognized breeds. And while the FCI has recognized almost 400 different breeds, the KC recognizes only 222. This year, the Bavarian Mountain Hound will have its own class for the first time. It is a breed that even in Europe is not very common at shows, but is has a legendary nose for track- ing wounded game, even after many days. The regular number of visitors to Crufts is around 130,000. I wonder if they are “real visitors” or if this also includes the exhibi- tors and participants in other competitions. Anyway, it is very

impressive. A daily ticket for the three first days is 23£ for adults and 17£ for children of 9 and over, including the evening program in the Arena. But on Sunday, a ticket for the Arena needs to be ordered separately. This, plus eating, plus hotel, makes Crufts a very expensive happening, and although tickets for children are much cheaper, it still ends with several hundred pounds apart from travel expenses. For a family, it is a very expensive trip depending on how many members and how long the stay. Notwithstanding this, it is always moving to see people being extremely excited when they visit Crufts for the very first time. On the plane to Birming- ham, I was sitting next to a girl who would visit Crufts for the first time ever. She was very excited, and when I accidentally met her again on the third day she seemed to love it even more, and hurried on as if she feared missing something. The National Exhibition Centre, better known as the NEC, is huge. Crufts uses only five halls (plus the Arena) of the 20 halls available, but the show still covers 25 acres to host more than 450 trade stands, going from food stands to anything you can buy for a dog. Any self-respecting company will present its novelties here in première, which makes Crufts also the biggest market for dog items in the world. What drew my attention this time, in particu- lar, were the gravestones for pets. Traveling to Crufts is something that needs to be thought about and planned for long in advance. It is very difficult to find cheap accommodations around the NEC during Crufts. Prices rise around that time and even booking long in advance will hardly help. Only if you take the risk to wait long enough and look for something a week or so before the show might you be lucky to find a room for a cheap price. But you might well end up very disap- pointed. More and more people book something in Birmingham or Coventry and take the train to the NEC every day or rent a car. Others only come in the morning on the day of their breed and return home again in the evening. The NEC is only at walking distance from Birmingham Airport and the train stops even closer


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