What an amazing experience – 11 of us got to visit the biggest dog show in the world! Thanks to part sponsorship from the club, we set off to visit Crufts Dog Show in Birmingham in March of this year. We are all dog crazy but each of us has our own specific interest within the doggy world. Some went for the agility, some for the dog dancing, some for the obedience, some to discover new training methods and some to shop (and there’s plenty opportunity for that at the show)!
We arrived a few days before the show and met up with Susan and Stuart Gache, who used to be involved with CPDC and have now settled in the U.K. With them we visited some interesting places before the show started. We started off with a dose of culture and history at Winterbourne House, a stately home in the ground of the University of Birmingham.
Our next visit was to the National Guide Dog Breeding and Training Centre. There we enjoyed a tour of the facilities and heard all about how Guide Dogs are carefully bred and prepared for their working career. We were very interested to hear that the pups are removed from the litter at 6 week and brought to the centre for assessment so that they imprint on humans and not other dogs. Also interesting was that most of the guide dogs are Golden Retriever/Labrador crosses. They also use German Shepherds and Poodles in their breeding programme but also always as crosses.
We finished off the day with the opportunity to watch Laura Chudleigh, one of the best agility handlers and trainers in the UK take some of her handlers through their paces.
The following day we enjoyed a morning at Warwick Castle and then went off to visit Dogs Trust and got a guided tour of their kennels. They provide welfare and re-homing for dogs. As unwanted dogs are not as much as a problem in the UK as we are used to here, strays are imported from Ireland to meet the demand for rescue dogs. What a wonderful problem to have.